Stream or skip? +2023

It’s the time for romantic vacation stories, and we here in the States aren’t the only ones wanting to tell them. A new Netflix comedy from Italy tells a classic romantic holiday story that would have looked right at home on Hallmark Channel (or CBS this year). In fact, it’s a remake of a Netflix vacation series from Norway, showing that cheesy vacation romance is a universal concept.

opening shot: Christmas time in Venice, Italy. A gondola with a crib is paddled down a canal. Then the whole thing rewinds, a woman sits down as her phone records her and says, “I hate Christmas.”

The essentials: Why does 30-year-old Gianna (Pilar Fogliati) hate Christmas? Because she’s the only member of her family who’s single and childless, and it seems like every holiday season since she split from her ex three years ago, she’s been toasting about when she’ll get married and start having kids to get. Her mother Marta (Sabrina Paravicini) even gives her a not-so-subtle hint by sitting her among her brother’s little twins at the family table.

She tells of the last 12 hours, hanging out with her sister Margherita (Fiorenza Pieri) and friends Titti (Beatrice Arnera) and Caterina (Cecilia Bertozzi), who are fighting over a mistletoe in the woods. Then, at her niece’s church performance, Gianna’s ex shows up and Margherita finds out that he now has a wife and child. Even then, Margherita ignores Gianni’s fulfillment in her job as a nurse and just assumes she wants a family. Then, over dinner, she’s peppered with requests about her single status so much that she decides to say she has a boyfriend and that she’ll bring him home for Christmas…24 days from now.

So now Gianni has to find a boyfriend in a little over 3 weeks. Not just a “fake date,” but actually meeting someone and connecting enough to even consider them their boyfriend. There are candidates like Umberto (Glen Blackhall), a new doctor at the hospital who will be working a double shift with Gianni at Christmas because they are both single. She’s trying to find a man in a “grilling and marinating” class after seeing a man with abs put out an electric fire with his shirt and says he learned it in one such class. However, she finds that the men take grilling and marinating more seriously than she expected.

However, outside of the building where the class is located, she meets Nicola (Giovanni Anzaldo), who she assumed was in the class but finds out he teaches in the building. It’s a brief encounter, but it gives her hope.

I hate Christmas

What shows will it remind you of? I hate Christmas (Original title: Odio Il Natale) is based on the Norwegian Netflix series home for christmasto the scene where the single protagonist sits between her brother’s toddlers.

Our opinion: I hate Christmas is a seemingly harmless and almost sweet holiday story. If we didn’t know that it’s based on the Norwegian two-season series quoted above, we’d say the story could have been neatly packaged as a holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel. But it seems like there were more than enough story elements for writer Elena Bucaccio to take this story to the finish line of six episodes and beyond.

One of the things a viewer needs to overcome is the old-fashioned notion that beautiful Gianna, who seems perfectly content with her single life and doesn’t need a man to define it, is still getting negative attention from friends and family you get single status. In the scene in the woods with her sister and her friends, they openly laugh at the prospect of her finding someone to kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas. Why does that seem so far fetched? Three years is a long time, but not forever. Even Caterina, who is a virgin, gets more pass than Gianna.

Once you get over it and see how desperate Gianni is to get rid of her family, it will feel better to watch her find someone. Despite the unnatural pressure her family puts on her, the love and warmth in Gianni’s family and circle of friends shines through. It makes us excited that she actually finds that boyfriend before Christmas, even though we know there will be ups and downs along the way.

gender and skin: None in the first episode.

farewell shot: Gianni is cycling along a canal, wearing the jacket that Nicola bravely offered her, and thinking about her encounter with him.

sleeping star: We give that to Massimo Rigo as Gianni’s father, Pietro, since he’s the only one who doesn’t put pressure on her to get a boyfriend.

Most pilot line: When Pietro plugs in his giant crib in his shop, the electricity in the building is completely cut off. Very slapstick scene.

Our appeal: Stream it. I hate Christmas is a fairly standard romantic holiday tale, but with the beauty of Venice as a backdrop and the utterly charming lead of Pilar Fogliati, it’s a pleasure to watch.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he doesn’t fool himself: He’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon,, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.

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