It is the season of jingle bells, but not everyone likes that sound. It is easy to classify the Christmas haters as the grinches of humanity. After all, why wouldn’t one want to get together with family, eat cake, receive gifts from Santa, and celebrate the love they share with everyone? But it cannot be ignored that we live in a society that is hyper-focused on just one type of love: the romantic kind, the type you get from a significant other. And the answer lies in that term itself: when you don’t have a “significant other,” it is deemed that you are missing something “significant,” and your life is not as complete, or your struggles are not as valid as those who have formed a familial unit. Being single is not celebrated; it is tolerated. The disguise of tolerance has changed over the years, of course. Think about it: being in a relationship is celebrated by so many holidays and is pretty much seen as an achievement. But being single is seen as “okay.” Is it really an equal choice or an equal playing field? Not to mention the pity or condescension that comes with it, which is not excluded from the dinner table conversation at holidays. No wonder so many people dread going home for that, Gianna being one of them. “I Hate Christmas” is her story as she attempts to make Christmas a little bit more tolerable for herself. This is how she does it.
Gianna’s Quest To Find A Boyfriend
“I Hate Christmas” follows Gianna, a 30-year-old nurse who has been single for a while now. Tired of her family’s constant passive-aggressive reminders of her single status and the implications that she is “running out of time,” she lies to them that she has a boyfriend whom she will be bringing to the Christmas dinner. That’s where her quest starts: to find a boyfriend in 24 days. Gianna’s friends Didi, Margherita, and Caterina decide to help her along. Didi is a woman of the world who knows her way around and is confidently single while living her life. Caterina has yet to be with anyone, but she has a crush on Thomas, a guy who works at the restaurant and, as Caterina believes, leaves origami for her. Margherita is Gianna’s sister, who is an overworked housewife with an absent and unappreciative husband. Four women of the same age, yet with wildly different lives. Three years ago, Gianna was broken up with by Francesco, who is now married with a child. But she hasn’t been with anybody else since, till now, when she starts dating again. She has some success with her endeavors, though it is a wildly mixed bag. There is a guy who feels a little inconsiderate and undermining of her job as a nurse, then there is another guy named Marco who gets obsessed and angry when he is rejected by her, and finally comes a third guy named Carlo who pretty much feels like a Prince Charming with dates in a castle and who sends beautiful dresses to her, but he turns out to be a little too pushy, causing her to leave. Nobody is denying that dating is akin to swimming in a sea of trash, but Gianna is evidently scared to put herself out there. Her friends point this out, and when she agrees to “let her hair down,” they set her up on a Tinder date with a guy named Davide. That goes surprisingly well and spills into the next morning, that is until Gianna realizes that he is still in high school. She verifies that he is 19 years old, i.e., that everything they have done is legal, and talks about it with her friends. Meanwhile, there is another person who is showing interest in her—one of her patients at the hospital, ex-Congressman Dante Crisanti. She is excited about her date with him, but things just go from bad to worse when her parents land in the same place as her, on a boat in the middle of the sea. As they are all hanging out together, it turns out that Gianna’s mother, Marta, and Dante Cristani, had dated in college. Tired of the whole situation, Gianna leaves and finds herself at Davide’s house, where she spends the night. It looks like they might have something, but luck is not on her side. She makes a joke about how she could have fallen in love with Davide’s brother. That trigger something, and he ends up not calling her for days.
While we can understand that there are ups and downs in dating, what we don’t understand is how she is able to meet so many men. It is a statistical impossibility to meet more than one decent man in a month, yet she has no shortage of suitors, and that too in a span of 24 days. Adding insult to our injury, Carlo (the Prince Charming) re-enters her world by sending over a hundred roses to her workplace. Even Dr. Umberto starts taking an interest in her, though that goes unnoticed by Gianna. He might really be the most decent match she could have made. Another person who is interested in Gianna is a woman from the hospital named Nina, though she has yet to make a move. It all comes to a head at the Christmas party at her workplace when Marco, Carlo, Umberto, and Nina are all together in one place. Marco and Carlo get into an altercation, causing Gianna to have an outburst as to how it is so tough to navigate this labyrinth while trying to stay true to oneself. That was the night Nina expresses her feelings to Gianna. We may speculate that something could have happened if Gianna was in a better place mentally, but at that point, she chooses to end it after that sweet 5 minutes.
One might wonder whether there really is love on the cards for Gianna. But we believe that “I Hate Christmas” is making us question how we define love as a concept. Yes, we have all read and heard that there are different kinds of love in one’s life: the love of one’s parents, that of friends, and most importantly, the love one has for oneself. But it also can’t be ignored that not all love is celebrated at par with romantic love. It is seen as the highest level of emotional achievement. The situation is even worse for women, who have always been viewed with respect to their relationships with other men and the roles they carry as daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife, and later, mother. They are also the ones constantly placed under the threat of a ticking biological clock. And haven’t we all heard the phrase that it is only motherhood that “completes a woman”? In light of all this pressure, how does anyone, especially a woman, learn and accept that she is enough by herself? Despite knowing that they are good enough as independent people, there remains a deep sense of fear induced by an excessively commercial world that mints its money and grants societal acceptance to couples rather than individuals. And it is a sad reality that individual acceptance does not mean that the world will stop bothering or judging you. How does one not feel the pressure? How does one start believing that they are not wrong in being alone after all?
That is the journey that Gianna undertakes. She sees her sister Margherita, who is fulfilling every single duty expected of her and doing more than that, but it is the facade for a husband who takes her for granted—a reality of most women who have “found love” and “put a ring on it”. There is also Matilde, a woman under Gianna’s care who has lived a life on her terms without a single care for society, and she wouldn’t change anything about that. Then there is Patrizio, an addict who blames the woman in his life for not taking on the emotional labor for him. Gianna puts him in his place, which causes him to start caring about the mental health and boundaries of those women. And finally, there is a perfectly nice man called Diego, who never wishes back Gianna until one day when she comes to know that he is actually deaf.
Gianna has always been wary of her mother’s judgment, who has made it very clear multiple times that she doesn’t think much of her single daughter, who is a nurse. She can’t believe that Dante Crisanti would date her daughter, as he is someone very successful, which means that she thinks her daughter is not. She also gives her expired yogurt for Christmas, whereas her other children get the flavors. That is why Gianna hesitates to ask Davide to be her date for the Christmas dinner, but her father tells her to do what she wants. Gianna decides to follow her heart and bake a heart-shaped cake for his birthday. However, when she reaches there, she finds him with another girl. Regardless, she tells him that she likes him, but he replies that, though he thinks she is great, he wants to explore the world instead of being in a relationship. Gianna is heartbroken and gets drunk with Margherita and Thomas. That night, as they are walking through the lanes of the city, she spots her father with another woman. She runs back home crying but is taken care of by her friends. In a twist, they end up spending the night together.
Gianna is still heartbroken because she has always held her parents’ marriage in high esteem. Seeing that their relationship is less than perfect has her re-evaluating her entire mental compass regarding love. This is also in light of her trying to come to terms with the fact that her best friend, Didi, is getting serious about Marco. But good things happen as she talks to her brother and realizes that nobody leads a perfect life. There is also a level of acceptance regarding the reciprocity of love and the ways in which it finds us. This happens with Diego, who turns out to be the one leaving the origami for Caterina, and they get together toward the end. Gianna’s head nurse, who is always hard on her, turns out to have a charitable Christmas spirit when she offers to cover her shift. The best part might yet be that Umberto finally confesses to Gianna how much he likes and probably loves her. Christmas is well on its way to becoming merry.
Who Comes To Dinner With Gianna’s Family?
At the Christmas dinner, it was pretty much an open secret that Marta and Pietro were separating soon. Which is one of the reasons this holiday was so significant for the parents because it’s their last chance to express themselves to their children as a family instead of as individuals, as they would in the future. Marta shows some love to her daughter, finally, but we are unable to think much of it. Gianna is clearly an afterthought to her mother. Something to understand here is that Marta had left home because she believed that she had missed out on life by marrying early. But back then, it turned out that she wanted her family after all. That was the choice she knew and understood, and the memory of the alternative was mired in heartbreak. Therefore, when she sees her daughter happy with her single life, she fails to gather the wisdom to appreciate it. That will probably never change in her lifetime. As people wait for Gianna’s boyfriend, the bell rings, and it is her friends Diego and Caterina. Next, come Marco and Didi, followed by Matilde and also Thomas. These are all Gianna’s friends and inviting them in place of her boyfriend is her declaration that she is far from alone and has people in her life who care about her and who she cares about. It is a beautiful message and an example of how people can come together in love, which is not restricted by society’s ideas of companionship. Just as everybody is about to settle down, the bell rings again. It is for Gianna, and the smile on her face suggests that her Christmas just got better. She does not say anything about the person except that it is a romantic date.
Now, there are three options- Carlo, who we feel she had started to like; Umberto, who declared his feelings for her, and finally, though it’s a stretch, Davide. We can rule out Carlo because it feels too much to consider that he would come to see her at her house, especially after the misunderstanding. It could be Umberto, and he is our favorite option. But there was something about the way Gianna smiled. It was the smile of love, as if some part of her had desired the presence of this person, and it had been granted. Umberto would have just bought a look of pleasant surprise, not the soft glow we saw, which is why we think it could have been Davide. He could still be planning on leaving, but there is no reason not to spend Christmas with the woman he likes before he goes to Bali. Or we read Gianna wrong, and it is, after all, Umberto. As we said, he is our favorite option.
While watching the overwhelming number of Christmas movies this season, we bemoaned the fact that this side of Christmas was not shown. Christmas is supposed to be about love, but somehow even that is reserved for romantic partners. We are glad that there was a show like “I Hate Christmas” that showed the journey of accepting and celebrating the choices of choosing different kinds of love instead of doing just the general lip service that it is “okay to be alone.” It’s more than okay; in fact, it should be celebrated as much as being with someone is. But we still have a long way to go as a society before we understand and appreciate the difference between being alone and being lonely. It must also be mentioned that the show has a sweet, binge-able quality and moves at a good pace. “I Hate Christmas” might just be our favorite Christmas watch yet, and the one we are going to tune into not just every Holiday season but every time we feel the pressure to be with someone, getting to us. We have a distinct feeling that people in relationships might not like it that much, but we would still recommend it to them. A great show for a nice-feeling holiday.
“I Hate Christmas” is a 2022 Drama Romance series streaming on Netflix.