It’s almost Christmas, which means that for the last three weeks I have indulged in a personal December pastime: the bingeing of made-for-TV Christmas movies that are so hilariously bad, they’re great. These movies are mindless, comforting, and full of unintentional humor that is a relief from the end of year stress. Nothing has made me cackle this month quite like Vanessa Hudgens’s faux “Belgravian” accent in The Princess Switch or Joey Fatone’s low-rent parody of Italian Americanisms in The Christmas Wedding Planner.
Of course, made-for-TV Christmas movies are nothing new. The genre has been dominated by Hallmark, a channel that has busted out more than 100 original Christmas films in the last decade and reignited the careers of Candace Cameron-Bure, Lacey Chabert, and Danica McKellar, who’ve all starred as variations of the girl next door, the poor little rich girl, and the girl who accidentally falls for a prince.
Now, to capitalize on both holiday cheer and the internet’s increased appreciation for irony, Netflix has gotten in to the game. The streaming network has ramped up its offerings of holiday flicks, meaning that there are even more delightfully laughable options at your fingertips than ever before.
Here, I’ve ranked a few of my favorites:
8. Christian Mingle (2014)
All you need to know about Christian Mingle is that it starts with the following voiceover by perennial Hallmark movie star, Lacey Chabert:
“I thought I was looking for a guy to stick a ring on my finger. And along the way something wonderful happened — I found him. That’s Him, with a capital H.”
Chambert plays Gwyneth, a woman who gaslights herself into thinking that being 30 and single is reason enough to lie about being a devout Christian so she can nab a missionary who she has approximately 10 percent chemistry with and who professes to be “more of a chili cheese dog guy” after eating a single piece of sushi.
7. Merry Kissmas (2015)
Inanimate objects helping people find love is a surprisingly common trope of this genre, but it works well enough in the case a possessed elevator that thrusts Kayla and Dustin into an impromptu make-out session. Kayla’s already in a loveless relationship with Carlton, a diva choreographer who plans to wow the town with his bare-set production of The Nutcracker. (“I’m not shooting for the stars, I am a star,” he says.) His bluster eventually proves too much, and Kayla allows herself to fall for the genuinely hot Dustin and his bleached teeth when he gets trapped in the elevator for hours and he confesses his love for her as she stands within convenient earshot of the rickety elevator shaft.
6. Christmas Inheritance (2017)
The fact that Jake Lacy, noted hipster heartthrob of Girls and Obvious Child, is in this movie bodes well for the future of the precious film genre. Here, he plays a crusty ol’ blue collar guy who falls for Ellie, an undercover rich girl in town to deliver … a letter to her father’s elusive business partner before inheriting the Home & Hearth Gifts fortune (modern technology, including email, is strictly forbidden when it comes to made-for-tv setups). You know Ellie’s a rich girl because she does cartwheels in cocktail dresses, asks to check her luggage on a Greyhound bus, and is a spitting image of Reese Witherspoon, but when a snowstorm prevents her from getting back to the big city in time for her Christmas trip to Cabo, she instantly transforms into a down home holiday dogooder.
5. Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)
Trying to figure out why The Christmas Wedding Planner makes you feel like you’re stoned is a fun, yet slightly frustrating game to play because you will truly never know. It could be the lack of a straightforward plotline (Kelsey is planning her cousin’s wedding while defending it from a private investigator, but also flirting with said investigator who she ends up marrying at the wedding she plans), the Joey Fatone cameos, or all-star performances like this. It’s surely the most confused you will be while sober this season.
4. A Christmas Prince (2017) / A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018)
I almost didn’t include these movies because they are too close to being actually good, but what would a schlocky Christmas movie list be without a trip to a made-up European country? In last year’s holiday sensation, A Christmas Prince, American journalist Amber Moore travels to Aldovia, where she falls in love with a Prince William look-alike after going undercover inside the castle walls. This year’s sequel, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, is admittedly a bit meh, but it ends in a conga line. Long live Aldovia!
3. The Princess Switch (2018)
The Princess Switch is another one that almost felt too *good* to be included, but Vanessa Hudgens’s Belgravian accent is one not to miss. “Belgravia, the London neighborhood?” you ask? Why no, I’m referring to another fake European country dreamed up to host American baker Stacey De Novo (Hudgens), as she discovers her doppelgänger, Lady Margaret Delacourt, the Duchess of Montenaro (also Hudgens). The two switch places for a few days, and Stacey says things like “my pants must have shrunk in the royal wash” after failing to mount a horse.
2. The Spirit of Christmas (2015)
The Spirit of Christmas tells the story of Lilly, a workaholic lawyer who falls in love with Daniel, a notoriously picky ghost landlord who refuses to let anyone live in his house even though has been dead for 95 years. The fact that said ghost (played by Thomas Beaudoin) is by far the hottest love interest to grace this genre feels like a particularly twisted commentary on dating, and eerily related to this recent news story about the woman who married and then divorced a 300-year-old pirate ghost.
1. Christmas Crush (2012)
I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with this hot mess, but the heart wants what it wants, right? Christmas Crush tells the story of Georgia, a struggling designer’s assistant, returning home in time for the holidays and her high school reunion. Georgia’s stressed about measuring up to her former “most likely to succeed” status, so she keeps trying to make an impression — she does a very misguided glee club semi striptease, cartwheels on stage and, belts out a barely passable rendition of “O Holy Night” which, of course, renders the crowd speechless. All the while, she’s trying to get back with her first love — despite the fact that he cheated on her on prom night. There are flashbacks where everyone looks exactly the same, and Christmas Crush gets bonus points for a confusing subplot in which the school’s principal, played by Harry Hamlin, brings Georgia’s friend to orgasm by reciting the periodic table. What?