Netflix’s Home For Christmas manages to tackle all the clichés about being single over the festive season in a very clever and funny way. Beware: the writer watched all six episodes in one sitting, so there are plenty of spoilers ahead.
Netflix has delivered the goods yet again this Christmas. The Knight Before Christmas showed off Vanessa Hudgens at her purest (with a covetable coat collection), and A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby completes one of the most unexpectedly beloved trilogies of a generation.
So, of course I pressed play on Home For Christmas without thinking twice. I hadn’t heard anything about it, but a Netflix Christmas series about being single during December instantly spoke to me.
However, I was a little bit sceptical. Was this show just going to roll out the same old “single woman at Christmas” clichés? Was it going to make me angry and maybe even a little bit sad?
Because, here’s the thing: thanks to pressures from society, some of those clichés are true. Of course it can feel a bit lonely attending Christmas parties alone when everyone else is coupled up. And yeah, it is frustrating having to answer constant questions from friends and family about your love life at family dinners.
But the thing that films and TV series so often get wrong is the trope that finding a partner to kiss by Christmas Day is the only happy ending. I’m sorry to say that you only need to look at the aforementioned Netflix films to confirm this – both women “get a man” at the end (although they’re also accomplished in their careers and have excellent friends and family).
We – single women – are allowed to feel a bit low about our relationship status around the festive season, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not generally very happy with our lives until the right partner comes along when we want one.
So, the way that Home For Christmas tackles singledom at Christmas is refreshing. The script fully acknowledges the pitfalls of being single at Christmas, but it also pokes fun at them and highlights the perks. Most importantly, it offers an alternative happy ending.
So, what is Home For Christmas actually about?
Johanne is a 30-year-old successful nurse in Norway who, once again, finds herself sitting with her young nephews at the end of the family table in the run up to Christmas, because she is the only single adult there. After being quizzed by family members about her ex-boyfriend from three years ago, and assured by them that she’ll “find someone” soon – Johanne finally cracks and tells her startled family a lie that she has a boyfriend.
What follows is a six-part series about Johanne’s mission to find a boyfriend who will join her for the family’s Christmas Day meal. (Oh and, just a head’s up: you’ll have to watch with subtitles or get over the slightly out-of-synch dubbing.)
Watch the trailer for Netflix’s Home For Christmas
Along the way, Johanne goes through the motions that a lot of single women will relate to.
She takes on Christmas shifts at work because she’s the only one who doesn’t have a spouse or kids. Then there’s the friend who takes over her dating profile because “behind each dick pic is a heart of gold”, apparently (this is really annoying and partronising IRL by the way). Her sister-in-law swears she has a male colleague who’s single – but also totally unsuitable. And an open-minded stab at speed dating ends in meeting men who are obsessed with musicals, computer games and the size of their penis.
But Johanne has plenty of fun as a single woman too. She has amazing sex again, again and again with a guy 10 years younger than her. She befriends an elderly female patient at work who inspires her with no-nonsense talk about not fitting into society’s expectations. She has the best time living with her best friend. And she nurtures relationships with her siblings and parents on lovely family outings and get-togethers.
And what about tackling those clichés? Well, Johanne goes on a manic dating spree, including a truly inexplicable date at a spinning class. She finds herself falling for the literature-loving man of her dreams only to find out he’s a total hipster who insists on ripping her favourite films apart. And she becomes attached to the 19-year-old who tells her it wouldn’t work because he’s jetting off to study in Bali. Basically: these are thought to be the actions of a “desperate, lonely woman”.
But this is all turned on its head with the surprising ending. Johanne ends up inviting her inspiring patient to her parents’ Christmas dinner, along with her best friend and her new boyfriend. Everyone has a great time, including the parents who are obsessed with Johanne getting a boyfriend.
The real zinger comes in the final scene, when the doorbell rings. We’re led to believe that it’s one of the men she’s dated, who has come to declare his love at the family meal. But we actually don’t find out who it is. Because, by this point, it doesn’t matter. She’s already very happy, and just so happens to still be single.
And, for me, that’s the most satisfying ending I could have asked for.