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Inside Netflix's Plan for Holiday Domination

With new rivals breathing down its neck, the streamer is going all-in on holiday programming.
  • A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish and John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch are among the titles hitting Netflix this holiday season.
    A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish and John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch are among the titles hitting Netflix this holiday season.

    While the launches of Disney+ and Apple TV+ have dominated the headlines this past month with their big budget debuts of shows likeThe Mandalorian and The Morning Show, Netflix has been quietly amassing its troops on the battlelines of the next front in the streaming wars. Like the local radio station that starts playing holiday music in mid-November, Netflix knows December is all about the holidays, and the more they can be a part of our holiday tradition, the more time we'll spend with them as the year winds down.

    Setting its sights on becoming the one-stop-shop for the holiday season, Netflix has already rolled out an unprecedented amount of holiday-themed shows and movies, with plans to offer up enough original  content to keep us entertained until the New Year hits. Attempting to rival Hallmark’s heartwarming romance domination, the streaming service is upping the cheesy holiday movie stakes with sequels, time travel tales, and teen rom-coms. Holiday-themed baking specials are a Netflix another signature dish, with several of their best returning for seconds, thirds, and fourths.

    Here's an overview of the holiday treats that Netflix has recently released, as well a peek at what's yet to come. Your move, Apple & Disney:

    Already Available to Stream:

    Let It Snow

    Taking the "stranded on Christmas Eve due to snow" trope to fun new heights, Let It Snow is based on the young adult novel of the same name co-authored by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. When a snowstorm hits a small town, a group of high school seniors must deal with the consequences. It has everything you need for a festive romp: A pop star who can’t get home, love triangles, a stolen keg, and a whole lot of charm to put you in the holiday spirit. Mix John Green’s penchant for tear-inducing narratives (think Fault in Our Stars) with screenwriter Kay Cannon’s biting wit, add an ensemble cast of up and coming young actors, and you have a winning holiday recipe.

    The Knight Before Christmas 

    Last year, Vanessa Hudgens won our hearts twice over in the very silly (but enjoyable) Princess Switch. A sequel to this Parent Trap-esque plot is coming, but until then Hudgens retains her holiday romance crown with this time travel love story. The unlucky in love Brooke (Hudgens) is a science teacher from Ohio who encounters a medieval knight from England who must complete a quest before he can return home. A classic fish-out-of-water story, Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse) must learn the ways of modern living with Brook as his tutor. What could possibly happen next?     

    Holiday in the Wild

    Sex and the City 3 is still very much off the table, so Kristin Davis is starring in a holiday movie that sounds a lot like the set up to the second SATC movie. Manhattanite Kate Conrad plans to go on a ‘second honeymoon’ with her husband, but he asks for a divorce instead. Choosing to go on the planned trip to Africa anyway, she helps pilot Derek Holliston (Rob Lowe) rescue a baby elephant. A meet-cute so good that she extends her vacation through Christmas.

    Holiday Rush

    It wouldn’t be the holiday season without ruminations and sadness due to a dead parent or financial strife: Holiday Rush delivers both in a bid to remind us that the magic of Christmas isn’t about the expensive presents on your wish list (tell that to everyone complaining on Twitter come December 25). Material goods are also not the way to connect with your kids after they've lost their mom. Starring  Romany Malco and Sonequa Martin-Green, Holiday Rush is primed to make you cry and appreciate what you have.


    Boasting a voice cast that includes Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons, and Joan Cusack, this animated feature tells the story of an unlikely friendship that takes place on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle. Jesper (Schwartzman) is the postal academy’s worst student, which is how he ends up stationed at the end of the world. He befriends mysterious toymaker Klaus (Simmons) and their bond has a magical impact on this neighborhood.

    Nailed It! Holiday! 

    Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres are back for more festive baking disasters in the wonderful and hilarious Nailed It! Holiday! Think more wreck the frosting than deck the halls with Jason Mantzoukos returning as a guest judge. Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell, David Burkta, Bridget Everett, and Ron Ben Israel are also on hand to pass their eye over the epic baking fails. And if you want Netflix cooking crossover heaven then Sleighed It is the bonus gift under the tree, pitting the cast of Merry Happy Whatever against each other in the first installment.

    Sugar Rush Christmas

    Candy is a major holiday food group, so a Sugar Rush six-episode Christmas run is a no brainer. Teams are competing for the $10,000 prize and guest judges Tiffani Thiessen, Liza Koshy, Jeanine Mason, and Olympic Gold Medalist Meryl Davis join Hunter March, Candace Nelson, and Adriano Zumbo in deciding who takes the big prize.

    The Great British Baking Show: Holidays

    Former GBBS contestants face off to see who will be crowned Christmas Star Baker. Featuring former contestants and the regular line-up of judges and hosts, these two episodes aired in the UK last Christmas, but will no doubt bring joy to fans of the series everywhere. No show embodies the warmth of the season more than GBBS.

    Merry Happy Whatever

    Set in Philadelphia in the days leading up to and after Christmas, Dennis Quaid plays Don Quinn, the patriarch of a close but eclectic family. Families clashing over the holidays is pretty standard fare: one of Don’s major gripes is with his youngest daughter’s new boyfriend. Creator Tucker Cawley previously worked on Everybody Loves Raymond, so expect similar family dynamics in this new heartfelt sitcom.

    New for December:

    A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish (12/1)

    Cinderella, but make it Christmas and also she’s an aspiring singer-songwriter. You know the drill.

    The First Temptation of Christ (12/3)

    A follow-up to last year's The Last Hangover, the Brazilian stars of Youtube comedy channel Porta dos Fundos are back with a new Christmas special that's clearly not your average Biblical tale.

    Magic for Humans (12/4)

    Justin Willman returns with a second season of magic that touches on the holidays. Watch as the Los Angeles Street magician visits a Santa school and teaches kids the magic of giving.

    A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (12/5)

    The jewel in Netflix’s Christmas movie crown and the third in the Christmas Prince series, the fictitious kingdom of Aldovia has much to celebrate with a royal baby is on the way. However, when an important treaty goes missing, an ancient curse threatens the peace of the land. Queen Amber (Rose McIver) and King Richard (Ben Lamb) have until midnight on Christmas Eve to find it before disaster strikes. The Crown is missing a trick with its lack of ancient curses.

    Home for Christmas (12/5)

    This Norwegian Netflix Original sees the perpetually single 30-year-old Johanne (Ida Elise Broch) resort to desperate measures after telling her family she is dating someone. When they insist he join them for the holidays, Johanne has 24-hours to make this a reality. Snow, reindeers, plenty of patterned knits, and a quick succession of bad dates make for pretty perfect holiday viewing over six-episodes.

    Three Days of Christmas (12/6)

    Telling the story of four sisters, this Spanish miniseries reveals the secrets and drama this family experienced over the course of three different holiday seasons.

    Jack Whitehall: Christmas With My Father (12/12)

    British comic actor Jack Whitehall uses a comedy-variety extravaganza to try to get his father into the Christmas spirit. 

    John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch (12/24)

    John Mulaney’s latest Netflix special deviates from the typical standup special. Described as “A Musical Children’s Special From a Man with Neither Children Nor Musical Ability,” it isn’t entirely a holiday special, but at its variety performance heart, there is something very festive about the whole set-up. Mulaney wants to “recapture the magic of that bygone television era when children sang songs about their feelings with celebrity guests on funky outdoor sets.” Think Free To Me You and Me. David Byrne, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natasha Lyonne, André De Shields, Shereen Pimentel, Annaleigh Ashford, and Richard Kind all guest star.

    Lost in Space (12/24) 

    Picking up seven months after we last saw the Robinson family, it's Christmas Day and there are more adventures (and danger) ahead. Their spaceship (the Jupiter 2) is stranded on a mysterious ocean planet. They're missing their beloved Robot. And they must work together to make it back.

    Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina

    TOPICS: Netflix, Holiday Programming