Warning: This article contains Christmas Inheritance spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Netflix is bringing the made-for-TV, Christmas movie genre back. The schmaltzy baton has been passed and Netflix is clearly up for the challenge. Like A Christmas Prince, the streaming service’s first foray into the genre, Christmas Inheritance is unapologetically cliché and winsomely well worn in its character development and plot devices. It tells the story of socialite Ellen Langford, who, in order to inherit her father's multimillion-dollar company, must first visit his small hometown of Snow Falls, where she learns the value of hard work and helping others. Sounds like the perfect setting for some great word play and a predictable story arc.
This film has it all. A young woman who is both devoted to her career and directionless at the same time? Check. A clumsy meet-cute stunt to introduce the male lead, with whom she will have an argumentative, love-hate relationship at first? Check. A fiancé who isn’t good for her but she can’t see it until she gets to know the aforementioned nice guy? Check. Netflix clearly understands what goes into creating a Christmas romantic comedy, and it has ticked all the boxes.
As I watched this film, I had so many questions. For starters, why is every female protagonist clumsy? Incorporating physical comedy in the form of the cute, clumsy girl trope seems to have been an indispensable plot device since the dawn of romantic comedies. A runway suitcase, poorly timed gymnastics, the foolish decision to vacuum in high heels... when will our heroine learn?
Like its early romantic comedy predecessors, the film loves the divide between the city and country living. How many movies have thrived on pairing a fast-paced, city person with a quieter, small-town type who can show them what life is really about? So many. Unsurprisingly, Ellen discovers that her fated love interest Jake Collins has a sensitive side. She also learns the true meaning of Christmas, community, generosity, blah, blah, blah.
Like most cheesy film, this one ends on a heartwarming note (unless you're Ellen's fiancé, whom we are conditioned to not like from the start of the film). But one question persists: Why do the leading men in both A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance have the same bad haircut? I want to know. Netflix, can we talk?
On a more overarching note, what attracts us to these predictable films to begin with? The breakout Christmas hit and films like it are nothing we haven’t seen before. They aren’t cinematically stunning, they don’t wrestle with complex relationships, or contain unexpected backstories. So why do we like them? Personally, there is something satisfying about seeing a plot unfold that I don’t have to overthink. They’re almost soothing in a way, like holiday ASMR. Uncomplicated plots set to soothing Christmas music. The repetitive storylines are strangely gratifying to watch. Fittingly, both A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance address unlikely love, which is definitely what I’m feeling for these films right now.
Maybe, just maybe, my love-hate relationship with Christmas rom-coms is like the love-hate relationship between Ellen and Jake. I could only love them once I appreciated them for what they are on the inside — uncomplicated, feel-good movies best enjoyed with friends and family, and a grain of salt.
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