Deck the Halls with Holiday Programming

By Gilbert Galvan  | 

Thanksgiving is over, and the holiday rush is in full swing. That means a slew of holiday programming is now available on cable networks and streaming platforms, running the gamut from classic favorites to original creations. Lifetime and Hallmark are once again playing feel-good movies every day until December 25. While AMC and Freeform are focusing on fan-favorite flicks like Fred Claus and Scrooged or The Santa Clause and Home Alone, respectively. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and HBO Max are providing lineups comprising both old and new offerings. Paramount Plus (Rugrats Chanukah, SpongeBob’s Winter Wonderland) and Disney Plus (Duck the Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christmas Special, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas) are the places to be for kid-friendly content. Linear TV channels including ABC, CBS and NBC will offer a variety of festive live events. Here’s what else you can watch to help make this season bright and merry.

All New in 2021

For some, Christmas isn’t complete without old classics like It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) or Miracle on 34th Street (1947), but others prefer new additions to their holiday lineup. Enter A Castle for Christmas, a Netflix offering that hit the streaming service on November 26. Brooke Shields stars as Sophie, a bestselling romance author who alienates her fans by killing off the heroine in her novels, following her own messy divorce. To escape the ensuing public outrage, she flees to Scotland searching for solace—and instead finds Myles, played by Cary Elwes, a castle-residing duke in dire financial straits.

From ancient castles to suburban houses, Home Sweet Home Alone is a reboot of the 1990 Home Alone blockbuster hit that broke records as the highest-grossing live-action comedy film. The new Disney Plus version offers plenty of tongue-in-cheek references to the beloved original, including actor Devin Ratray reprising his role as a now middle-aged Buzz McCallister. This time around, 10-year-old Max (Archie Yates) gets accidently left behind while his family goes to Japan, and he must defend his home against a married couple trying to reclaim a family heirloom they believe Max stole.

LGBTQ Offerings

Hallmark featured its first gay couple in last year’s The Christmas House, which garnered over 13 million views during the 2020 holiday season. This year’s sequel, The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls focuses on two brothers and their festive sibling rivalry. Though originally excited for a calm Christmas, Mike Mitchell finds himself roped into a reality TV show competing against his brother, Brandon, and Brandon’s husband, Jake. The goal? See who can fashion the most festively festooned holiday home.

Under the Christmas Tree is Lifetime’s second seasonally themed LGBTQ offering, following last year’s The Christmas Setup, which earned praise for casting a real-life married gay couple. This time, sparks fly between two women who initially seem like a mismatched pair. “Christmas tree whisperer” Charlie Freemont is in search of the perfect tree for the Maine Governor’s Holiday Celebration, which she finds in Alma Beltran’s backyard. Ricki Lake costars as the town’s pastry chef who helps make the blossoming romance a little sweeter.

Films Starring Latinos

While most holiday films have traditionally featured predominantly white casts, Hollywood is working to shift the representation needle by telling new stories about Latinx characters. Case in point: Feliz NaviDAD, starring actor Mario Lopez of Saved by the Bell fame. The holidays are hard for single dad David Morales (Lopez), since the Arizona high school principal lost his wife at Christmas a few years earlier. But when this romantic tale kicks off, David’s 14-year-old daughter (Paulina Chavez) and his sister (Marycarmen Lopez) are determined to change his dating luck and infuse some magic in his life.

El Camino Christmas stars, among other famous faces, Jessica Alba—whose paternal great-grandparents immigrated to the US from Mexico—and Emilio Rivera, a fellow actor of Mexican descent. It tells a black comedy story of a man who comes to the fictional town of El Camino, Nevada, searching for the father he never met. Hijinks ensue when he ends up getting trapped in a liquor store with five other strangers on Christmas Eve.

With countless entertainment options to choose from, curating a holiday watch list may be this year’s toughest but most rewarding task. Happy holidays and here’s to many hours of merry viewing!

Gilbert Galvan
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