A career-minded, big city single woman in her 30s gets passed over for the promotion she deserves, so she quits her job in a huff.
For the first time in 10 years, she’s not working over the holidays, so she decides to return to the quaint village where she grew up even though she doesn’t really believe in the spirit of Christmas anymore.
On the very first day of her visit, she bumps into a square-jawed, movie-star handsome local fella — and it takes her a while to realize this is the high school boyfriend she dumped when she went off to college. He now operates a tree farm, refurbishes antiques and volunteers at the local church.
Ugh, what a cornball rube! She’d never fall for a guy like this …
No one’s ever done a story like that before, right?
OK ... so maybe there’s a certain formula to all those Hallmark and Lifetime and Netflix and BET+ et al., holiday movies. And it’s easy to poke fun at them. But I’ll admit I kind of like the familiar, unabashedly sentimental, comfort-viewing quality to those stories.
With Christmas films old and new all over the channel lineup, let’s see if you can tell which of the following plot descriptions are real — and which ones I just made up.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the handsome local guy’s lovable dog is running loose through the annual potluck dinner and going right up to our heroine, who is NOT a dog person — but will become one before her visit is over. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll decide to stay here and not return to the big city anytime soon …
1. ‘The First Noelle’
Terrence (Todd Anthony) and Noelle (Novi Brown) are in the Friend Zone after breaking up — but when Terrence comes home for the holidays, Noelle is shocked to learn Terrence has a new girlfriend, and her name is … Noelle! Let the competition begin.
2. ‘Marley’s Story’
For the first time ever, we learn the origin story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley (Paul Giamatti). Forget everything you THINK you know about ol’ Marley!
3. ‘Zu Zu’s Petals’
Forty years after the events of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey’s youngest child, Zu Zu (Elizabeth Banks), runs a florist shop in Bedford Falls and has a family of her own — but, when a fire destroys the store and Zu Zu learns her insurance policy has lapsed, she lashes out at her husband and children and disappears into the night, pausing on the bridge to ponder whether everyone would be better off if she had never been born …
4. ‘The Most Colorful Time of the Year’
Ryan (Christopher Russell) is an elementary school teacher who is colorblind. Michelle (Katrina Bowden from “30 Rock”) is the single mother of one of Ryan’s students — and she’s an optometrist. Can she bring color into his life in time for the holidays?
5. ‘ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas’
Former actress Madison Rush (Torrey DeVitto from “Chicago Med”) is trying to break into directing, and she tests her skills with a Christmas Eve courtroom production involving a trial to determine the true authorship of the famous poem “A Visit From St. Nicks.”
6. ‘Home Alone Again’
Newly separated 42-year-old Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) purchases the North Shore home where he grew up and plans to spend the holidays by himself, working, as his estranged wife and children go on vacation. As we occasionally see flashbacks to Kevin’s adventures in this same home when he was a child, Kevin hears strange noises outside. Is someone … trying to break in?
7. ‘Meeting Mr. Christmas’
Sophie (Greta Carew-Johns) is a travel blogger who returns home for the holidays for the first time in years to take care of her ailing mother. The cynical Sophie rolls her eyes at the holiday-loving town doctor, one Fin Miller. But, when she decides to write about Fin for her travel blog, she begins to realize she might actually have feelings for him — and for Christmas.
8. ‘A Gingerbread Christmas’
New York City architect Hazel Stanley (Tiya Sircar from “The Good Place”) comes home to suburban Chicago for the holidays and learns the family bakery has been in steady decline since the death of her mother — and her former best friend has opened a trendy new bakeshop right across the street! As Hazel competes to win the $100,000 first prize in a gingerbread house competition, she meets and falls for a contractor who has some baking talents of his own!
9. ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’
Everyone at school makes fun of 13-year-old Zoe (Julia Butters from “The Fabelmans”) because she insists there’s a Santa Claus. Even her estranged parents are worried that Zoe continues to cling to her childhood fantasies. Zoe just makes things worse by claiming she has kept in contact with Santa all these years, and she even contacts the media to announce Santa will be making a special stop in her hometown this year to prove the doubters wrong. And then, on Christmas Eve …
10. ‘A Christmas Karen’
An entitled middle-aged woman (Michele Simms, the “oversharing Mom” in the Carvana commercial) named Karen gets involved in a series of instances on Christmas Eve in which she behaves like a privileged jerk. Later that night, she receives an intervention from three unconventional individuals who take her on a journey of self-reflection. Can Karen be redeemed?
1. BET+ movie.
4. Hallmark movie.
5. Hallmark movie.
7. Chicken Soup for the Soul TV movie.
8. Discovery+ movie.
10. Streaming on ITunes, Google Play, YouTube, et al.