The holidays have a funny relationship with time. When I’m in the throes of summer, I fantasize about December delights. Cozy sweaters, Starbucks’ sugary simulated gingerbread and Christmas lights all seem like magical wonders.
But then winter comes around and I remember why we try so hard to make December as charming as possible: the bitter cold. Gone are the days of lazing about outdoors, watching cute guys stroll by in tank tops and shorts (both of which seem to be made with less and less fabric as the years go by). Come winter, it’s a miracle if you even make eye contact with someone as you both slosh to your destinations.
It’s probably why everyone’s favourite winter pastime, whether they admit it or not, is staying indoors; my early Christmas present to myself was a subscription to Netflix to facilitate my hibernation. Flicking through title after title, I’m amazed that during all my wishful-December thinking I forgot my true winter love: Christmas television.
There’s a lot of schlock out there. Eve’s Christmas (get it? Her name is Eve, and it’s Christmas), starring Clueless actress Elisa Donovan, is about a plucky New Yorker who makes a Christmas wish to travel back in time because, gosh darnit, Christmas makes her realize she should have married her loser boyfriend instead of pursuing her successful career. It was filmed in 2004, before feminism was invented. Lifetime’s sole purpose is to pump out movies like Eve’s Christmas, and while there’s certainly an audience for it, it’s not my cup of tea. So I thought I would share my favourite holiday specials of yore, in case you need a break from watching Love Actually for the 20th time.
Lady Gaga and The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular: Yes, it’s an obvious plug for Gaga’s Artpop, but Holiday Spectacular is like an IV of glitter directly to your eyeballs. There are more blonde wigs and outfit changes than you could possibly keep track of — exactly the kind of element Miss Piggy excels in. A close second choice is obviously The Muppet Christmas Carol, but Gaga makes this variety show special so absurd, it’s hard not to enjoy it. Maybe if they ever recast A Christmas Carol, Gaga could star as the ghost of Christmas past.
The Mindy Project, “Christmas Party Sex Trap”: Watching narcissistic and self-deluded Mindy Lahiri plan a Christmas party is great enough. Having her use the party as a tool to seduce her crush is genius. Having her rendition of “Santa Baby” be upstaged by Maria Menounos? Perfection. I understand that Mindy is not supposed to be a likable character — she’s absurd (no one ever falls in love at Christmas, a trope the show is poking fun at) and abrasive — but you can’t help but laugh along with her. Like when she declares that free gifts are only okay “if you’re like a poor mouse in a Christmas special or something.” This is also the episode where her hunky co-worker Danny dances to Aaliyah’s “Try Again,” so that should be reason enough to watch it.
Orange Is the New Black, “Can’t Fix Crazy”: Unless you’ve been living in a bubble devoid of great pop culture, you’ll know OITNB is Netflix’s crown jewel. Piper may be the show’s (boring, neurotic) protagonist, but the supporting players consistently steal the show. “Can’t Fix Crazy” is the Season 1 finale, where conflicts and lesbian relationships come to an explosive end. It isn’t a feel-good, cheerful episode. Like Home Alone before it, Christmas is merely the catalyst for scandalous antics. Our plucky lady inmates are staging a Christmas pageant; things don’t go as planned (of course), and it ends with Piper taking out her aggression on a fellow inmate’s face. “Can’t Fix Crazy” cemented OITNB as must-watch television.
However you decide to spend your holidays, all of us at Xtra hope you have a safe and enjoyable one. Have an extra glass of eggnog for us.