About one-in-three Americans traveled during last year's holiday season, according to the AAA. So, chances are you're probably going to endure a long journey home soon and an even longer ordeal making small talk with your loved ones.
Don't fret! Thanks to streaming media and downloadable options, you can make valuable use of that family time. Cheddar's what-to-watch guide will help you get you out of those uncomfortable situations. Gather your friends and family in front of the couch and load up these options. And when things get strained and tempers arise, you can always bring up the themes and characters from these movies and tv shows to keep things merry and bright.
For ideas on how to converse with your Mom, who is filled with the holiday spirit:
Let It Snow (Netflix)
For years, Hallmark and Lifetime have been the go-to standards for sappy, winter-themed, illogical romantic comedies that fall apart if you think about them too hard. Now, Netflix wants in.
Let It Snow is Netflix's attempt to bring yuletide cheer, based on a young adult novel by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. Let It Snow is mostly a coming-of-age story about high school kids trying to throw a party, but it's got everything from weather-dependent travel delays to sledding to keep you in happy tears all season long.
To get out of those uncomfortable political conversations with Dad:
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
We understand that Star Wars might not be everyone's cup of tea. But The Mandalorian, which is more space western than other things in the Lucasfilm canon, has the ability to draw in people who might not typically love stories about a galaxy far, far away… all thanks to Baby Yoda.
Baby Yoda not only has the ability to use the force, but the capability to bring grown men to tears because it's so gosh-darn cute. It's even united Star Wars fans who aren't happy with the more commercial-friendly direction the franchise has taken ever since Disney bought the rights. And it has the power to help you change the subject when conversations get a bit tense because seriously, how can anyone not melt when talking about Baby Yoda's saucer-sized black eyes and his itty-bitty three-fingered hands?
For conversation-starters with Grandpa, who likes to reminisce about the good old days:
The Irishman (Netflix)
Pachino, Pesci, and De Niro are the trifecta of classic mob movie actors, and they don't disappoint in Martin Scorsese's latest film. The Italian-American director is taking on the tale of Jimmy Hoffa, the leader of the Teamsters union from 1957 to 1971 who mysteriously disappeared but is rumored to be sleeping with the fishes. After watching this stylized retelling, ask your grandpops for a history lesson over a cognac.
If you want to be cool with all those hip folk at the kids' table:
Looking for Alaska (Hulu)
Looking for Alaska is another tearjerker from John Gree, best known for teen cancer romance The Fault in Our Stars. This time, it's about a teenage boy who is obsessed with last words who falls in unrequited love with a wild-spirited girl. It's full of heartbreak and all those out-of-control emotions you experienced during your early years. As an added bonus, you can be the wizened elder who talks about actually living through the period in which the miniseries takes place since it's set in 2005.
If you want to connect with your artsy sibling:
Watchmen may be based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, but it's not a reboot. It takes place in the same alternate universe as its source material but builds upon today's issues. Instead of nuclear war being the central fear, HBO's version tackles white supremacy, vigilantism, and other racial themes.
The good news is you don't have to have read Watchmen to get what's going on in the show since it's mostly based on new characters. You also won't have to ensure impassioned sighs from your sibling who says that the show isn't as good as the original comic book since it's treading on new territory.
To chat with your family member who is bringing his/her partner home for the holidays for the first time:
Modern Love (Amazon)
That first time meeting the family is always awkward, and sometimes the backstories of how people met are pretty murky. Still, it always makes for a great tale, whether the romance is meant to be or meant to last through dinner.
To commiserate with your family member who is struggling through the introductions, remind her that love comes in all shapes and sizes. You'll be able to gather inspiration from Modern Love, which is based on the New York Times column of the same name. The miniseries draws from real-world Big Apple romances from the lady and her platonic bond with her doorman, a lawyer hiding her bipolar disorder from her friends and family, and a couple struggling through the motions of a bad marriage.
To talk to your cousin who just got back from studying abroad in London:
The Crown (Netflix)
This historical drama centers around Queen Elizabeth II, so it's sure to pique the interest of your Anglophile family members. It's all about the scandals that titillated the royal family from the 1940s to modern times so you can expect broken engagements, retirements, headstrong prime ministers, and one Lady Diana Spencer. The third season debuted in mid-November, just in time for you to debate the merits of the monarchy with your family over afternoon tea.