We have officially reached Peak Christmas Movie season. Last year, millions of viewers discovered the soothing, gingerbread-sweet (some might say saccharine) escapism of Hallmark Channel’s annual “Countdown to Christmas,” a cascade of cookie-cutter TV movies, the vast majority of which conclude with a chaste, heterosexual kiss under a small town’s twinkling Christmas tree.
This year, Lifetime and Netflix, no dummies, have really embraced the campy holiday spirit, ramping up their own offerings. So how does each hold up? We rank the Kringle contenders.
Most inclusive: Holiday fare with a slightly lighter-handed spin
New movies this year: 18
Star type: “Where do I remember her/him from again? It’s been a while.”
Typical protagonist occupation: Small business owner, advertising exec, single mom
Cast diversity: Impressive for this lily-white genre; minority actors take the lead in several (if not quite half) the titles.
Percent with “Christmas” literally in title: 83
General vibe: Gets what Hallmark is doing so successfully, wants to recreate it but with bigger budgets and more gay-friendly scripts.
Be sure to check out: Melissa Joan Hart in “A Very Nutty Christmas.” Her baker character bonds with a real-life Nutcracker.
Most modern: Bigger budgets, millennial-geared plots and a smattering of snark
New movies this year: 6
Star type: “Screw indies, I’m taking that sweet, sweet Netflix money.”
Typical protagonist occupation: Writer, photographer, baker
Cast diversity: On par with the network’s non-holiday offerings, i.e., higher than either of the old-time networks
Percent with “Christmas” literally in title: 66
General vibe: Don’t have cable? They’ll fill that cozy holiday niche for you. Plus, you know Kurt Russell (”The Christmas Chronicles”) wouldn’t be caught dead on Hallmark.
Be sure to check out: “The Princess Switch,” in which Vanessa Hudgens plays dual roles as a down-to-earth baker and European princess who switch roles .