All I Want for Christmas (Series Review: “Home for Christmas”)

A sweetly comic Norwegian series about one young woman’s search for a boyfriend she can introduce to her family on Christmas Day.

SnapShot Plot

Although it may seem spun from familiar holiday fabric, Home for Christmas is nonetheless an especially endearing series out of Norway which starts off slowly but quickly pulls at your heartstrings about a third of the way into its 6-episode 1st season. Ida Elise Broch (best known from the series Lilyhammer) stars as Johanne, a bright and capable single nurse whose quirky family can’t get over the fact that Mr. Right dumped her three years earlier. Surrounded by daily reminders of her uncoupled existence, she blurts out a blatant lie to her family a month before Christmas, claiming to have a new love in her life who she will introduce to them at the Christmas dinner table. Thus begins a 24-day quest to nab a boyfriend she can present as proof to her family (and herself) of her romantic worthiness in a society obsessed with two’s. Sound hackneyed? Perhaps, until the translucent and intelligent beauty of Johanne, not to mention her sardonic and self-deprecating wit, combine to create an irresistible character whose heart feels like it’s in your pocket.

Parting Shot

Created by Per-Olav Sørensen (known for his acclaimed military drama series, Nobel), this is his second partnership with Netflix, the first being the tragic teen love story depicted in the gripping film, Quicksand (also a Norma’s Streaming Picks favorite). You may recall the actor Felix Sandman’s shattering performance in that film, here portraying Johanne’s inappropriately young boy toy, Jonas. Home for Christmas is a decidedly more rom-com creation from Sorenson, to be clear. And yet in each episode there are moments of real gravitas, balanced with a fleeting simplicity so elusive that you’re unprepared for the emotional impact. And it all seems to reside against the motif of the heroine’s favorite movie, Love Actually, while beautifully reflected in Johanne’s irrepressible and slightly crooked smile. By the final scene, when the doorbell rings in her parents’ home, we hold our breaths to discover which one of her would-be suitors is on the threshold, feeling almost as protective of her lovely soul as is her family themselves.

Home for Christmas is presently streaming on Netflix.

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