Christmas Inheritance Is Part Rom-Com, Part Work Fanfiction

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

This article contains spoilers for Christmas Inheritance.

In the wise words of Refinery29's Sarah Midkiff, Netflix's Hallmark-dupe Christmas Inheritance is great "holiday ASMR." As long you avoid trying to sniff out many details (of which there are few), the movie will wash over you.

The way life will shake out for protagonist Ellen Langford (Eliza Taylor) is easily predicted by any viewer in the first 20 minutes of the film. Although she is heralded as "the Party Heiress" in the daily papers, Ellen is only a shit show socialite as far as a four-year-old might envision one. She's perpetually late, she's a klutz, and she flashes her underwear (red, but definitely full-coverage and demure) in public at charity events in between taking shots of brown liquor. In all other respects, though, she's pretty vanilla.

Ellen's father, Jim Langford (Neil Crone), intends to retire and leave her in charge of Home & Hearth, the company he started with his best friend, her "Uncle" Zeke Daniels (Anthony Sherwood), many years before — as long as she proves her mettle in one final gauntlet. Not by closing Home & Hearth's fourth quarter of the year with record sales, or pulling off a major turnaround, but by traveling to Snow Falls, the imagined locale of his origins. (Which we are fervently assured, through many big city vs. small town comparisons, is the capital of Bumblefuck, Nowhere.) Once there, Ellen is to deliver the handwritten letters Jim and Zeke exchange each year and learn something from the locals.

That something is about the importance of community, charity, and honesty, and it comes by way of Jake Collins (Jake Lacy), who is the manager of the inn Zeke owns and a pseudo-broody dude who had his heart broken years before, while he was an NYU student in the Big Apple-Eats-Your-Heart-Out. The conflict is obvious, and resolved with the most elementary of plot layups — which is totally fine.

What's interesting about a Christmas Inheritance, though, is how simply the characters' personal, professional, and financial aspirations are attained. Ellen doesn't party ("hard") because she has a case of affluenza, and feels like being blonde, rich, and white empowers her to do whatever she likes. Rather, she behaves the way she does — the way she did, before going to Snow Falls — because nothing seemed to matter after her mother died.

The most effort we see Ellen putting into the purportedly multi-million business endeavor with dozens, if not a few hundred, employees is when she gets ready for a presentation about the company's branding. But, apparently, she's prepared to take over everything after a dose of small-town perspective. She even learns how to convince a Fiscally Conservative entrepreneur in disguise that he should donate to charity; not with politicking, just by saying it's the right thing to do. It's heartwarming fantasy, and Ellen's father's life is #goals, too.

We don't learn Ellen's age because it isn't central to the plot. Traditionally, you usually only learn how old a rom-com heroine is when she's approaching the age of majority and is about to inherit a kingdom, or when she is approaching 40 and freaking out. Still, it takes a little bit of magical thinking to believe that Jim is Ellen's father. He's just so young! If we're imagining that the characters are roughly the age of the actors, that would make Ellen only 28, and Jim a youthful 57 — nearly a decade younger than the current age of retirement.

To get in the weeds a little, earlier this year, GOBankingRates released a survey showing that Americans' top fear is never being able to retire. And last week, The Washington Post published a bleak portrait of a group of Tulsa workers, all of whom are over 70 years old, have lost corporate pension benefits, and may have several more years of low-wage work ahead of them to make ends meet. For most people, retiring before age 66 (and change) is impractical, if not impossible, as full Social Security benefits don't kick in until then. So, retiring before age 60 as Jim Langford does? Being rich and successful before 30 (slash, at all) as Ellen becomes? That's a kind of porn I didn't know I could get from Netflix.

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