If it seems like everything's coming up Real Housewives on Peacock lately, you're not wrong. Not only is the NBCUniversal-owned streamer home to every city and every season of the venerable Bravo series (also NBCUniversal-owned), but just last month Peacock debuted its very own Real Housewives spinoff, the excellent cross-franchise Real Housewives Ultimate Girl's Trip. Today the streamer takes the wraps off a brand new Real Housewives-adjacent property, The Housewives of the North Pole, a scripted feature-length holiday film featuring cameos from women across the franchise and starring RHOBH's Kyle Richards.
Yes, you read that right: The Housewives of the North Pole is a made-for-tv holiday movie, that comfort TV staple perfected by Hallmark that's since found a home on virtually every cable channel and streaming service once the calendar hits mid-to-late November. While the seasonal genre isn't known for its creativity, you have to hand it to Peacock for coming up with away to meld a Christmas concept onto one of the more successful franchises under its umbrella.
It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that the film's producers would look the Beverly Hills wing of the Housewives compound when casting this scripted tie-in. RHOBH is frequently populated by actresses, although unlike soap queens Lisa Rinna and Eileen Davidson, Kyle Richards is a former child actress who's only recently taken up acting again.
Blending the two halves of her professional career, Richards teams up with Breaking Bad's Betsy Brandt to play the two Christmas queens in the idyllic snow-blanketed small town of North Pole, Vermont. Trish and Diana are longtime friends and the envy of all the other women in town, if only for their superior skill at Christmas lawn decorations. Trish is the Type A one, with a successful husband and a homemade pumpkin cheesecake at the ready, and a band of carol singers at her command; Diana is the more easy going artist, but she's enduring a rough patch that's included a recent divorce and her ex-husband running off to spend the holidays in St. Lucia with his hot new wife. Both women have college-aged kids who've never gotten along — Trish's daughter Skye (Jearnest Corchado) and Diana's son Jake (Kyle Selig) — but when Trish and Diana have a blowup fight that poisons their friendship and turns them into rivals, the wildly attractive Skye and Jake call a truce in order to get their moms back together. You can see where this is headed.
Like any good Real Housewives season, Real Housewives of the North Pole knows what we're here to see. The husbands are thoroughly superfluous, with one divorced and in the Caribbean and the other out of town on business (what kind? who cares). Diana eventually gets the spark of a new love, but the central relationship here is the women and whether they can repair their years-long friendship. Complicating this in a very Hallmark-ian way is the intrusion of Big City Cynicism in the form of Kendall (Tetona Jackson) an internet writer (BOOOO!) who's new to town and looking for a story. Initially she wants to write about the Christmas queens in tandem, but when their friendship goes kaput, Kendall's big-city boss (Alec Mapa) insists that she write about the scandal with a catty "Real Housewives of the North Pole" angle.
By now this is a familiar (if uncelebrated) holiday movie trope: the cozy values of small town holiday cheer pitted against the sneering city cynic who wants to turn it into something ugly, and Mapa's character certainly provides, with a positively Grinchian monologue about how "no one wants to read about small town fireplace hot cocoa crap anymore." Hear that, Vermonters? Your holiday cheer is passe, this publisher needs clickbait!
Of course, rolling one's eyes at the blatant value-baiting in these holiday movies is half the fun, and the actors all seem to be on the same page, even if the production stops short of true high camp. And to their credit, Peacock and the film's producers are savvy enough to know that when they title something The Real Housewives of the North Pole, they better deliver some real Housewives. Aside from Richards, Housewives fans can look forward to cameos from across the show's various regions. I won't spoil the surprise of who shows up, but I strongly recommend convening with friends to rank the women and the acting ability they put on display.
Ultimately it would be nice if The Housewives of the North Pole were a bit dishier, a bit campier. But it definitely lands exactly in the middle of a genre that Peacock could take further advantage of, particularly if they continue to marry the Hallmark aesthetic to their own properties. Does this mean I'm asking for a Girls5Eva holiday special? You bet I am.
The Housewives of the North Pole premieres on Peacock Thursday December 9th.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.