Two Cynical Singles Pair up in Netflix Rom-Com ‘Holidate’

Being single during the holidays can be uncomfortable for some people, but it is particularly trying for those who only exist in movies. Sloane, played by Emma Roberts, is one such miserable being when we first meet her on Christmas Day in Netflix rom-com “Holidate.” Any insecurity this 30ish Chicago woman feels is amplified by her anxious mother, Elaine (Frances Fisher), who bemoans the fact that Sloane is the only one of her three children who is not partnered-up. A few days later, during a depressing trip to the mail to return some ill-fitting pajamas, she meets Jackson (Luke Bracey), an Aussie who is still reeling from an extremely awkward holiday with a clingy woman who introduced him to her parents as her boyfriend after three dates. Soon, Sloane and Jackson make a pact to spend every holiday together to avoid any further embarrassments, agreeing upfront that it would be a strictly platonic arrangement with no hanky panky. However, two extremely attractive young people can only spend so much time together before one or both of them starts feeling a spark.

The concept of a “holidate” comes from Susan (Kristin Chenoweth), Sloane’s extra-horny aunt who picks up a mall Santa and brings him to Christmas dinner. For their first faux date, Sloane and Jackson attend a swanky party on New Year’s Eve, standing together awkwardly as the real couples start smooching at midnight. Over time, the pair becomes more comfortable around each other as they go on to spend Valentine’s Day and less sexy holidays together, like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo. 

One would expect Sloane to keep up the charade of Jackson being her boyfriend in front of her family, but, surprisingly she is transparent with them about the whole thing. She even brings him with her to have brunch with Elaine on Mother’s Day, because apparently one even needs a date to celebrate Mom. Needless to say, Elaine is not too Keen on the whole holidate thing, and she pushes for Sloane to go out with her neighbor, Faruk (Manish Dayal), a handsome doctor with a heart of gold. Surprisingly, he seems interested in hot mess Sloane, and it’s even more beguiling when he later turns his attention to Susan. Sloane’s siblings, meanwhile, married mom Abby (Jessica Capshaw), Abby’s high-strung husband Peter (Alex Moffat), little brother York (Jake Manley), and York’s fiancée Liz (Cynthy Wu), all get along smashingly with Jackson.

Although it’s hard not to root for Sloane and Jackson to get together, in a lot of ways, they don’t really make sense as a couple. They’re too similar, as they’re both too cynical. And when two people only see each other on holidays, it’s difficult to see how they would fare as a couple facing day-to-day struggles. However, they are eventually put to the test when one of them accidentally takes a laxative on the most romantic of holidays, Halloween. All of this leads to a grand romantic gesture that will resonate with even jaded viewers.

Overall, “Holidate” is a fun, guilty pleasure rom-com for those who find the holiday features that airs on The Hallmark Channel and Freeform too tame for their liking. Despite the cutesy title, “Holidate” has plenty of sex humor and F-bombs for those who like their rom-coms on the raunchy side.

Holidate” begins streaming Oct. 28 on Netflix.