It's been a tough year. So as you flip through Netflix with your family and friends this holiday season enjoying some much deserved R&R, treat yourself to the deliciously awful holiday staple: the made-for-TV holiday movie.
Why? While there are more, shall we say, critically-acclaimed holiday films and beloved Christmas classics available on Netflix, nothing passes the time between political arguments and unsought relationship advice quite like a Hallmark/Lifetime/ION/Freeform (previously: ABC Family) original.
These three can't-miss movies are available on Netflix:
1. 12 Dates of Christmas
This film, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Amy Smart (who also stars in the slightly higher quality and Netflix available Just Friends) is pure made-for-TV gold. You'll be astounded so many romance movie tropes can fit into 90 minutes.
At one point, Smart's character Kate, while eating ice cream in her bed after she finds out her ex is proposing to his new girlfriend, says "I can't end up alone" to her dog. She and Gosselaar's character Miles bond over mozzarella sticks. Later, she and fellow size two friend Leigh dance around her apartment while spraying whipped cream onto donuts. Kate really likes junk food!
12 Dates of Christmas manages to pack an animal with a sixth sense, a love interest with a dead wife, underprivileged kids living in a group home, and time travel into a single coherent storyline. And Smart and Gosselaar are charming enough to make it work.
Kate: "That's my neighbor...she's so alone. I don't want that to be me. Alone on Christmas Eve."
Miles: "You're not alone tonight." (Their first blind date is on Christmas Eve.)
2. Merry Kissmas
Two movies on this list involve chance meetings on malfunctioning elevators, complete with spontaneous kissing. Merry Kissmas is the less traditional of the two, and to be honest, a bit morally questionable. While we are to believe leads Kayla and Dustin are wholesome do-gooders, Kayla cheats on her fiancé Carlton, lies to him, and then continues to hangout with Dustin everyday while her fiancé is at work. I get that Carlton is a rude Brit who's only staying with Kayla for good PR, but I kind of felt for the guy.
Don't worry though, it still incorporates many of the best MFTV movie tropes: two strangers who kiss and don't exchange names or numbers somehow end up working together five minutes later. A wise stranger (Santa in this case, natch) offers up advice to our befuddled heroine every time they run into each other on the street, which is often. An elderly neighbor (Doris Roberts!) is used basically as the punchline to an unnecessary mean joke.
It's also incredibly funny: The Kay Jewelers product placement at the end of the movie, as the two leads inexplicably ride a ferris wheel, made me quite literally laugh out loud.
Kayla: I need a wish about true love.
Wise Santa: Ah, the original wish we spoke of. Are you now wishing for that romantic spark to be reignited?
Kayla: I'm not quite sure.
Wise Santa: Well I'm sure you'll figure it out. Merry Christmas!
3. A Christmas Kiss
A Christmas Kiss goes from 0 to 100 real quick. Less than seven minutes in, lead lady Wendy's boss, Miss Hall, demonstrates repeatedly what a terrible monster she is, Wendy cries to her roommates about not reaching her true potential as the second coming of Shakespeare (or something), and Wendy meets the man of her dreams in an elevator where they fall into each other and end up kissing. Wendy quickly discovers that her mystery kisser is her boss's boyfriend, Adam, and he doesn't recognize her. Phew. Poor Wendy.
"There were all these carolers, and it was just really crazy, and I had to get out of there" is Wendy's explanation for why she runs away from Adam after kissing him in the elevator. Been there.
Though we're supposed to hate Miss Hall, a la Carlton in Merry Kissmas, she has several amazing burns for both Wendy and Adam throughout the film. "You smell like cheap takeout" is one of the most deserved.
Miss Hall: This is a society party not a kindergarten art class.
Wendy: Kids are the future!
Miss Hall: They are not my future.
(In case you're wondering why we're supposed to hate Miss Hall.)