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Posts from the ‘Diversions’ Category

The Best Holiday Romances on Netflix

This is a joint post with G.G. Andrew, a writer of fun, flirty, and smart romantic comedy and an all-around awesome reading and movie-watching pal.

It’s December, which means that holiday romances on Netflix are cropping up as quickly as holly and mistletoe. But with so many options, and Holiday in Handcuffs no longer streaming, where’s a romance fan to start? Good news: We’ve done the festive watching for you, checking out everything from heartwarming films to fun flicks to all those fake relationship movies (so.many. fake relationships) to find the very best holiday romance movies streaming this month. Grab a hot drink and queue up one of these next time you’re in the mood for some holiday swooning!

Christmas in the SmokiesChristmas in the Smokies
Christmas in the Smokies is a sweet and charming second chance romance. Shelby (Sarah Lancaster) runs her family’s berry farm, which is in financial straits. Mason Wyatt (Alan Powell) was Shelby’s boyfriend back when they were teenagers, but is now a roguish country music playboy who’s screwed around too much and needs to figure out his life. (The video of Mason totally bombing a Dancing with the Stars-type country music show is a highlight of the movie.) Mason ends up staying at the farm to clear his head, in part thanks to Shelby’s father (Barry Corbin), the wise bumbling type full of jokes and folksy advice. Mason is 100% appealing as the prodigal boyfriend who learns to grow up, and Shelby is the competent business woman who doesn’t take nonsense from anyone. Watching Shelby warm to Mason as he helps her attempt to save the farm will melt the icicles on anyone’s heart.

Holiday Breakup
This one was a fun surprise: funny, cute, creative, and with one of the best rom-com heroines. Chloe (Manon Mathews) grew up believing that “falling in love meant you never had to grow up.” And she hasn’t. She works in a toy store, does trust falls with herself (yes, really), and when she hits Jeff’s car with her own while texting, she offers him a toy as recompense. Naturally, the two start an adorable courtship. Jeff (Shawn Roe) is Chloe’s opposite in many ways: more serious, a businessman, and the son of an uptight man who doesn’t think he should be with someone silly like Chloe (cue the conflict). So Jeff tries to make Chloe more serious, especially since they’re about to move in together. Spoiler: it doesn’t work. “My dad was right,” he tells her. “You do need a clown school.” Chloe, excited to hear this, exclaims, “There’s a clown school?” The two break up, but because of the pressure of the holidays, they decide to pretend like they’re still together for the sake of braving holiday meals with their families. What follows are a string awkward dinners, lessons learned from their own parents (good and bad), and one “perfectly appropriate kiss between two incompatible adults” that makes them realize what they’ve been missing.Holiday Breakup.jpg

A Christmas Prince
iZombie’s Rose McIver stars in A Christmas Prince as Amber, a junior editor who spends her time rewriting the crappy stories of more senior writers. When she gets an assignment, she is sent to cover Prince Richard (Ben Lamb), a ne’er-do-well newsmaker the gossips say might abdicate the throne. Amber instead finds herself mistaken for young Princess Emily’s (Honor Kneafsey) new tutor and uses the misunderstanding to move into the palace and their lives hoping to find a scoop about Richard and prove herself as a reporter. A Christmas Prince has royal balls, horseback rides, archery lessons, thrilling rescues from danger, poetry, secrets, retrograde jokes about the unwashed masses from snobby royals, and plot twists. Lessons are learned and true meanings are found. McIver, Lamb, and Kneafsey are so fun and earnest and winning as the three leads that any sappiness can be forgiven. Read more

Year of Revisiting #16 – Robin Hood

While he taxes us to pieces

And he robs of us our bread

King Richard’s crown keeps slippin’ down

Around that pointed head

Ah!  But while there is a merry man

In Robin’s wily pack

We’ll find a way to make him pay

And steal our money back


The last thing that I loved at some point in my life, hadn’t encountered in a while, and decided to “revisit” this year is the cartoon Robin Hood, which I hadn’t seen probably since childhood.  I must have watched it a hundred times as a kid, my grandfather always close by, sometimes singing along and laughing.  He and one of his close childhood friends had acted in a school play of the Robin Hood tale, so I think he has a special regard for the story.  And, of course, now so do I.  With the oddball mix of American Southern and British actors voicing the anthropomorphized animal characters, Robin Hood was just as fun and sweet and charming as I remember it being 20 years ago.


The Ten Best Gilmore Girls Episodes

The Gilmore Girls series, much like a fantastic Thanksgiving dish, came with a delicious mixture of ingredients that combined to make a perfect show. Take a sweet, strong bond between young mom Lorelai and her teen daughter, Rory. Add in some savory conflict between Lorelai and her well-to-do parents. Smear on a backdrop of a town of seriously quirky characters who do things like hold wakes for cats and debate about town troubadours. Stir in generous amounts of romance, the forbidden and the slow-burn and everything in-between. Season with witty humor and cultural references to everything from David Bowie to classic literature to Absolutely Fabulous.

It always made for a great watch, and that’s why G.G. Andrew and I are so excited to see the new Gilmore Girls episodes coming to Netflix this week! In our enthusiasm for all things Gilmore, we’ve rewatched the best moments of the series to bring you our top ten Gilmore Girls episodes, complete with recaps of why they’re so essential to the series.

Season 1 Episode 9, “Rory’s Dance”
Rory’s first formal dance at Chilton!  This episode is full of great Rory moments and life lessons.  Rory, initially reluctant to go, decides to attend after Lorelai convinces her not to skip the dance–or anything else in life–because she’s afraid.  Tristan torments Rory one second, gazes longingly at her the next, and later gets into a fight with Dean over her.  Emily chides Rory that you don’t go running out the door when a boy honks for you.  Dean is in top form too: he doesn’t want to go, doesn’t want to wear a suit, and doesn’t want to dance, yet does all of these things for Rory.  And when she asks if he’s her boyfriend, he replies, “I am if you want me to be.”  At the end, Rory and Dean fall asleep overnight at Miss Patty’s dance studio, which causes two epic fights: first between Lorelai and Emily, and then between Lorelai and Rory.  Both are heartbreaking and real and give us great insight into the three generations of Gilmore women. Read more

Year of Revisiting #15 – Bridget Jones

“I like you very much … just as you are.”

After reading Mad About the Boy and seeing Bridget Jones’s Baby, which was charming and delightful (I may have teared up a time or two), I was feeling nostalgic for early Bridget Jones. It had been years since I’d seen her.

Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The End of Reason were like old friends popping into my television with warmth, comfort, and humor. Disappointed in love and harangued by friends and family over marriage and babies, Bridget is a hero for every 30-something singleton who spends her nights alone guzzling wine in a matching pajama set. Bridget is not desperate, but she is uncertain and a little insecure, which drives her to be silly, ridiculous, and needy at times. I adore her.

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Year of Revisiting #14 – I Love Lucy

“Being his girl Friday’s not so bad.  It’s what you have to go through Saturday and Sunday.”

I finally finished watching the last 3 seasons of I Love Lucy when the show became The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.  The last time I consumed this much Lucy I was a teacher grading papers for about a million hours per week and needing something enjoyable and undemanding in the background.  For whatever reason my DVD player at the time wouldn’t play the Comedy Hour episodes properly, so I never got to the end.

I love this show.  As a kid, I wanted to live on the world of I Love Lucy.  I literally cried when I found out Lucy and Desi in real life ended up divorcing.  Their bond seems to have remained even after their divorce, though.  I remember seeing footage of Desi, much older, singing the theme song on some late night talk show.  I’ve searched for the video repeatedly and can’t find it, but I’m pretty sure this is the audio.

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