Yoh! Christmas is based on the Norwegian series Home for Christmas, and the current storyline follows the first season of the latter show very closely. We have seen the Italian adaptation of this show titled I Hate Christmas, and we are spotting the similarities from that.
We are not saying that Yoh! Christmas is bad, but what was the need for this? Home for Christmas was as cliche as it could get, and the remake of a cliche with absolutely nothing new to offer and releasing so close to it seems unnecessary and just like a waste of space. The problem is that Yoh! Christmas doesn’t bring anything new to the table, and it also lacks the strong emotional connection established by the Norwegian show. In Home for Christmas, Johanna’s journey and the subsequent realizations are the result of a careful blend of the lives of the people around her, which happen very gradually. In Yoh! Christmas, it all happens too abruptly, and the audience is left without any feel-good factor or even a generic lesson in self-love. On the other hand, people who have not seen Home for Christmas may enjoy this a tad bit more, but it still falls short of the Christmassy expectations. We are absolutely baffled by the decision to remake this show.
On the positive side, the actors do a fantastic job. Some of the storylines are a lot more definitive, but their effects will only be known in season 2. Thando, who is Johanna’s counterpart, is somewhat sassier, and her dating struggles feel a tad bit more relatable than Johanna’s did in the first season. We wish that the Christmassy factor had been a bit more dominant, since this is a holiday series after all. Additionally, it may have been wiser for Motheo (Davide’s counterpart) to be a little older, at least in his early twenties, if nothing more. It is decidedly gross that he is a teenager, and we won’t change our minds.
As for the supporting cast, they could have been funnier. Lulu managed it to some extent, but Riri was decidedly generic. Mel was a good surprise in the little material she was given, though Ben should have had more screen time with Thando. Amongst them all, Charles definitely stood out, not just because his feelings were as clear as day but because he was the most sorted character in the whole show. Having watched the second season of Home for Christmas, we already know what his role is going to be, but even then, his portrayal in season 1 was sensitive, and for those who could relate, he was inspiring.
My personal opinion is that a story should get richer with the remakes. Johanna, Gianna, and Thando’s journey of self-love was based on the fact that they understood how complete their lives were because of the many people around them and not just one mythical man. We saw the other two women go through things that made them reach that conclusion, but we just couldn’t piece it together with Thando. Regardless, the one thing that Yoh! Christmas should have had by virtue of being a second remake of a recent show is the conversation around acknowledgment of imperfections in a relationship. Yes, everyone says that no relationship is perfect, but nobody talks about why putting up with those imperfections makes more sense than being happily single. Even a single life is not perfect, but what makes these imperfections inferior to the imperfections of couples? Everyone around Thando was a picture of love, and it was only when she realized that none of them were perfectly happy that she decided to take her own time to find someone instead of rushing into it. Why did Thando never confront them head-on as to why they did not change their dialogue and conversations despite living in a very different reality from what they preached? If her mother was going through marital problems, why did she insist that marriage made life perfect? Also, if her sister knew that having a husband did not guarantee companionship and support, why did she not stand up for Thando when her mother was being unkind? Family is supposed to be supportive at times other than Christmas, and the conversation regarding their hypocrisy around relationships is worth having. We sincerely believe that the second remake, Yoh! Christmas, should have had this conversation.
But on a different note, as much as the actors did a good job, it felt like the lead lacked the charisma of the ‘confused girl looking for love and falling in love with herself’. It is a cliche trope, but shouldn’t the show have tried harder with the casting since it wasn’t shying away from being repetitive? The other actors managed to display the essence of their characters, be it Thando’s parents, the minister she goes on a date with, or even the actor who plays Bheki. They were so believable about their quirks, but the actress who played Thando somehow fell short, like we wouldn’t remember her till the second season, which is sure to come next year. Finally, we believe we have said this before, but the show seems to lack Christmas magic. Where is the atmosphere, the constant jingle bells, or the preparations for the festival? They are an integral part of the show and also serve the purpose of mounting pressure on Thando, due to which she comes to such a confident decision later on.
For the most part, it felt like Thando learned nothing at the end of the season. Her display of self-love felt very weak because there wasn’t enough buildup to it, and knowing what is to come next, we know it is going to crumble soon. Finally, sisterhood should have been a stronger part of Yoh! Christmas, not because of its predecessor shows but because the theme is central to the story. Riri, Lulu, Minnie, and even Mel are not just present for Thando to have epiphanies from their experiences. They lead separate lives that also give the audience a peek into the other side of the coin. It is hard to understand why this show feels so washed down. It could have remade the show scene and scene, and it would have been fine, but now it simply looks like someone was forced to do their job. Hopefully, the remake of the second season will be better.