Confession: I’d never seen a made-for-TV-type Christmas movie until last week.
Partly, probably, because I’m Jewish, but also because they just never really appealed to me. Especially when I had all 10 seasons of Friends at my fingertips.
But last week I found myself streaming The Princess Switch, and it slowly turned into a week dedicated to my watching every Christmas movie I could find on Netflix. It’s cool. Everything is fine.
I actually learned a few things from these films:
Christmas wishes do come true.
People have a weird habit of confessing their inner-most thoughts and desires to strangers dressed as Santa.
Do NOT model your love life after these films, because most of the love lessons they espouse are generally awful.
So if you’re going to watch Christmas movies this year—and you should! All at once even!—here’s a rundown of the holiday love advice that you should ignore, and the rare gems of advices that you might want to take to heart:
THE PRINCESS SWITCH
In this already-iconic Netflix original, Vanessa Hudgens does the whole swapping-places-with-an-identical-lookalike-family-member thing but the twist here is that one is a baker, the other—wait for it—a duchess engaged to a prince. Oh, and it’s Christmas time! Also, they’re not twin sisters. Sure!
So an actually good piece of love advice from this movie is that there is no need to rush into an engagement, no matter how swept off your feet you are or how big his kingdom is. When the Belgravian (which is, of course, a fictional European country) prince proposes to baker Vanessa at the end of the film, she’s all, “but I literally don’t know you!”—which is a GREAT point. They decide to wait a year before doing anything drastic, to which I say, “Long live Queen V!”
Don’t follow baker Vanessa’s example of making rash business decisions just because you want to one-up your ex. At first baker Vanessa is reluctant to go to the imaginary land of Belgravia because she doesn’t want to have to close her bakery during one of the most profitable times of the year—pretty logical, no? But then she runs into her ex, and wanting to impress him with her Christmas plans, Vanessa makes a snap decision to take the trip. And while I get that now she is theoretically a princess, I can’t stop thinking about all that ca$h she missed out on.
Here’s the deal: A young woman engaged to a famous director finds herself falling out of love with said director and into the arms of her engagement party’s caterer. And yes, it’s Christmas.
While I understand that the title of this movie involves the word “Kissmas,” never everjust go up to a stranger and kiss them, like people in this film did. I don’t care if there’s mistletoe! It’s not a good move, and while this movie might suggest that kissing a rando could lead you to your soulmate, it will more likely lead you to a restraining order. Plus, do you really want a stranger’s saliva in your mouth? Didn’t think so.
CHRISTMAS WITH A VIEW
In this movie, a restaurant manager falls for her restaurant’s new chef, who also happens to be a reality TV star known for being a playboy. There are a few speed bumps and food porn shots along the way, but they fall in love and eventually open their own restaurant together—but I bet you saw that one coming. Oh, but is it Christmas? You can bet it is!
Here’s one I guess I can get behind: Don’t always judge a person by their reputation when you first meet them—especially if they’re a reality TV personality! In the real world, if someone has a player reputation, you can absolutely still give him or her a chance, but just keep that in the back of your mind, ummtay? (That said, Great British Baking Show contestants, please get at me.)
A CHRISTMAS PRINCE
In this popular Netflix original, a journalist goes to Aldovia (another made up European country, obvs) to cover the royal family, and eventually ends up pretending to be the young princess’ tutor in order to get closer to/write a story about her brother, the prince. And here is the CRAZIEST (read: most predicable) part—the journalist, Amber, and the prince fall in love.
Something you probably shouldn’t take to heart: If you start a relationship with someone under false pretenses (like say, a fake identity for instance), it will work out in the end, even once you reveal your lie, because love conquers all. Um, no. If you lie about your identity to someone, they will probably break up with you once the truth comes out, unless you’re in witness protection or something.
Also, side note: If you ever meet a prince of a small, made-up country, it’s vey unlikely that you two will fall for each other, no matter what Netflix says. Especially if you’ve been lying to him, Amber!!
THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
The plot: Ambitious lawyer Kate has to help sell an inn before the end of December. The catch? It’s haunted! The twist? Kate and the ghost of the inn fall in love, leaving Kate to choose between her job and her new ghost lover. What will she do?!? And did I mention that it’s Christmas?
There isn’t one. Sorry, Kate: Falling in love with a ghost isn’t possible, and I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home (or at any spirit-infested hotels).
Long story short: In order for NYC socialite Ellen to become CEO of her family’s company (which doesn’t really make sense since the movie paints her as a party girl, but OK, sure), she has to fit in at Snow Falls, the small town where her dad started the business. Ellen accepts the challenge and hands in her AmEx for small-town life. In the process she ends up learning a thing or two about what Christmas is really about, and dumps her fiancé for Jake, the town taxi driver/hotel manager.
QQ: Why do so many women in these movies stay with clearly horrible fiancés/boyfriends until a new guy comes along? I get that the original partner is meant to be a foil and no one is spending a ton on these scripts, but come on! Newsflash! It’s okay to leave a shitty partner even if you have no other prospects.
A love lesson in this film that is best ignored: Your fiancé can be a dick to everyone around him, but it’s only when he’s a dick to you that you need to break up. Absolutely not! If your S.O. is rude and belittling to everyone around them, it’s only a matter of time before that’s turned on you. Run, girl!
CHRISTMAS WEDDING PLANNER
So this lil’ number was, as the title suggests, all about a holiday wedding. Though: It does not star J.Lo as the title also suggests. Kelsey is busy planning her cousin’s Christmas wedding when her cousin’s mysterious ex shows up and asks Kelsey for help in investigating the cousin’s fiancé. Twist: Kelsey and the ex fall in love, and yes, the wedding she plans is spectacular. But bigger/more important twist: Joey Fatone is also in this.
I was literally screaming at my laptop screen when after they HADN’T EVEN BEEN DATING, the bride’s ex Connor makes a big, dramatic apology to Kelsey that ends with a proposal. She says yes (what?? why??) and then they get married MINUTES later because it turns out that the wedding that Kelsey planned no longer has a bride or groom (spoiler: it was a good thing that Connor was investigating him). What is this nonsense?
Ignore this love propaganda at all costs! Hot tip: It’s probably a good idea to date someone for at least, I don’t know, a week before marrying them. Yeesh. The sequel to this would 100% be called “Christmas Divorce Lawyer.”
In this movie, journalist Hillary’s fiancé breaks up RIGHT before she’s due to introduce him to her family for the holidays, which includes her very exacting mother. Rather than show up without a man, Hillary opts to get an actor to play her fiancé, and I bet you can guess what happens next.
Ugh, this is another case of the clearly-a-dick fiancé, who in the first eight minutes of this movie tells Hillary that she doesn’t need a job because she gets to be his full-time wife, and her because he needs a wife who will “go where I need to go and do what I need to do.” Wut?? Hillary, girl, you should have dumped him before this movie even started and avoided this whole paid-actor-for-Christmas situation in the first place.
THE HOLIDAY CALENDAR
Kat Graham’s grandpa gives her a magical advent calendar before Christmas. Each day, the calendar predicts the future, and by the end of these festive 95 minutes, Kat’s dreams of being in love and owning a photography studio are fulfilled.
Ho-ho-horrible (see what I did there?) love advice: Kat’s best friend Ryan happens to be a guy who also happens to be in love with her—and by the end of the movie, she decides that she’s in love with him too. Basically, if you are straight and friends with someone of the opposite gender, you WILL fall in love, and you’re friendship has probably been a lie because the relationship was always meant to be romantic, you poor, naïve thing!
The calendar ~magic~ initially brings Kat to another love prospect, a handsome single dad who she meets at her niece’s elementary school play. TBH, I have no professional advice about whether or not elementary school events are a place where you can meet men, but it doesn’t seem great? I would generally avoid mixing sexual attraction and young children’s school functions, but that’s just me!
CHRISTMAS IN THE SMOKIES
Shelby and her family are about to lose their Smokey Mountain-based farm, so they turn to a last resort: Asking Shelby’s now-famous and recently back in town country star ex Mason to put on a charity concert. The catch: Those two do NOT get along! Oh, and it’s Christmas time.
Holding a grudge against an ex just isn’t a productive use of your time or energy. Shelby and her ex Mason broke up after he didn’t show up for Christmas one year when she was 17, and ever since she’s kinda resented him (even though she’s now like 30). She finally sees that harboring so much resentment has gotten her nowhere, and in the words of her wise daddy, “It ain’t baggage if you don’t carry it around.” Amen.