Kanan Gill… You deserve better.
Christmas is a common setting for romance stories, because it’s obviously the best time to warm up… if you know what we mean. (Warm drinks, sweet treats, and snuggling with loved ones, of course.) Christmas as Usual seems to go along that vein, as Thea brings home her fiancé Jashan to meet the parents, and he tries to impress her family, as these family Christmas romances tend to go. This obviously brings about the relatable romantic troubles that anyone can empathize with, so it’s a bit of a shock when Thea’s Norwegian family treats Jashan so badly that it seems more insidious than good ol’ concern over their daughter. Had the story been approached with more sensitivity, Christmas as Usual would have been outstanding, but its current version never really questions the racism of the Norwegian family, or the passive way Thea just lets it all happen.
At the start, Christmas as Usual seems like the cutesy multicultural Christmas romance that seems to mirror the plot of Saudi Arabia’s Crashing Eid. Kanan Gill is so charming as Jashan, especially during his swoonworthy proposal, that it’s no wonder Thea fell for him. However, the way Thea’s family treats Jashan feels less like reasonable concern over cultural differences and feels more like racism. It actually feels a bit like a Christmas version for Get Out, with an added Norwegian language barrier, without the sci-fi twists. But even without considering the casually flung microaggressions, Thea doesn’t do anything to prepare her boyfriend or her family for each other. It could have been an intriguing romance if Thea is genuinely concerned about her family’s treatment of Jashan, but as it stands, Thea is a terrible fiancée, even without the racism.