Season’s Greetings: Five Holiday Swap Movies to Binge

‘Tis the season for warm and fuzzy movies, mistletoe magic and of course, questioning everything in your life. It’s those quiet moments during the holidays that make you take stock of your choices and wonder what if? Instead of driving yourself crazy trying to debate a decision you made in high school, why not watch holiday movies that do it for you? Because sometimes we all need reminding that the grass is not always greener on other pastures, especially after hitting the eggnog pretty hard. Here are my top picks for infamous holiday switch movies.

Scrooged [Netflix]
Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is crude, selfish and mean. He’s worked his way up from the mail room to be a fancy TV executive, sacrificing everything to get to the top including the love of his life. When Christmas Eve antics get a little out of hand at work he has three ghastly visitors in true Charles Dickens fashion who scare him straight.

The Family Man
The Family Man [Amazon Video, Google Play]
In another men-obsessed-with-success film Nicholas Cage stars as Jack Campbell, rich investment-banker bachelor who believes all he needs in life is his sports car. He gets a chance to see what is missing when he wakes up married, alongside the college sweetheart he left behind (a pre-Madam Secretary Tea Leoni). Will Jack trade in the sports car and corner office for ugly Christmas sweaters and a minivan? How did he get lucky enough to have Don Cheadle play his Christmas switch angel?? So many questions.

trading places 2
Trading Places [Netflix]
Instead of being switched by some sort of Christmas magic, two men’s lives are swapped as part of a bet between upper crust broker brothers Mortimar and Randy Duke. Apparently, this is what rich people do for fun. They frame wealthy Wall Street commodities broker Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Akroyd) and replace him with a street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) to see how the two fare in different environments. The social experiment blows up in their faces when Louis and Billy Ray join forces and conspire against the Dukes on the trading floor in a play that I still hardly understand. Highlights include Dan Akroyd as a drunk santa and Eddie Murphy’s infectious laugh.

Last Chance Christmas Kristin’s Christmas Past [Lifetime, Amazon Video]
Super sassy music publicist Kristin (Shiri Abbleby) is happily estranged from her family until her BFF gets a girlfriend and can’t keep her company on Christmas anymore. She goes to sleep sad and alone only to wake up back in time to the eve of her worst Christmas ever. She quickly takes the opportunity to guide her 17-year-old self to make some different choices in hopes of fixing her future.

holiday switch
Holiday Switch [Lifetime, Amazon Video]
Poor Paula is having a case of the-one-that-got-away when her high school ex rolls back into town for the holidays. As a mom of two pouring over a stack of bills right before Christmas she wonders how life might have been if she chose the rich business man instead of her adorbs blue-collar husband. So, she does what any self-respecting woman would do: travels to an alternate universe via the clothes dryer. On the other side of perm press she finds herself rich and pampered with her new mate but soon figures out money doesn’t buy happiness or even fidelity.

What to Watch: 12/14/2015

As the action collects into many final showdowns in the closer to Fargo’s excellent season two, you might be wise to take the edge off and celebrate baby’s first Christmas in Virgin-land. And if you want semi-serious, check out HBO’s New Yorker-centric special.

Jane the Virgin [The CW, 9p]
It’s the ​Jane The Virgin winter finale tonight, and it promises a baby in a costume and Jane yelling at Santa, so pass the popcorn.

Fargo [FX, 10p]
It’s the finale of the most thrilling program on television — a show which somehow managed to up its game in a second season which found an incredible reservoir of gasps from the mundane spaces between horrific crimes. While it’s not a spoiler to say we know two Solversons will survive, anyone else is fair game.

Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists [HBO, 9pm]
The New Yorker cartoons have become an iconic part of history and journalism over the past 90 years and now we get a behind-the-scenes look at the process of how they are chosen. Leah Wolchock’s documentary follows editor Bob Mankoff while sifting through hundreds of submissions week to week to bring the most humorous work to the masses.

What to Watch: 12/13/2015

This Sunday’s picked-to-click include Brooklyn Nine-Niners dying hard, Real Housewives on the road south from Atlanta, and Andy Cohen talking about subjects which are not said housewives. Ch-ch-check it out…below.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine [FOX, 8:30p]
Jake, Gina, and Charles find themselves in a “real life” Die Hard scenario. This wouldn’t have happened if they brought Rosa along for the ride.

The Real Housewives of Atlanta [Bravo, 8p]
Kandi’s baby bump scare and Kenya’s cattiness keep the drama at an all-time high this week. Will Cynthia and Peter call it quits and give her sister a chance to say I told you so?

Then and Now with Andy Cohen [Bravo, 10p]
I’ll second Brooklyn Nine-Nine yippi-ki-yaying it up, but after you finish the FOX line-up, perhaps head over to Bravo (“they still show operas, right?”) as Andy Cohen does whatever it is that he does while waxing nostalgic over 1994. Could be a train wreck, could be wistfully entertaining. Just one way to find out, right?

What to Watch: 12/12/2015

A hunk returns to 30 Rock, a kicker (and his team) get(s) stuck in a moment, and poor Rudolph finally gets to play some little reindeer gamesS (presumably) lead our Saturday calls of WtW:

30 for 30: Four Falls of Buffalo [ESPN, 10p]
The joys of victory and the agonies of defeat are wrapped up in ESPN’s always-excellent sports doc series’ in-depth look into the early-1990s Buffalo Bills, who for four years in a row battled their way into football’s marquee game — only to have their hopes diced in a different manner each year. While it may hold extra appeal for the small-ish pie slice of fans of this star-crossed Western New York NFL franchise (as it so happens, I am part of this tribe), as with most episodes of the 30 For 30 series, its story is universal — in this case, of a Charlie Brown-like team in a small market and its resilient fans who may miss the kick every time, yet consistently summon the courage (or brute stupidity) to pick themselves up and try again.

Saturday Night Live [NBC, 11:30p]
Will Chris Hemsworth keep his shirt on the whole episode as host? I hope not. Kudos to Chicago native, Chance the Rapper, on his first appearance as music guest.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer [CBS, 8p]
Rudolph is showing again, and you could watch “The Flight Before Christmas” at 9 p.m. or switch to ABC Family for Elf. Getter get your best TV Watching Holiday Sweater.

What to Watch: 12/11/2015

Transparent [Netflix, N/A]
Yay, for season two being here. Weddings seem to bring out all the dysfunction in families and the Pfeffermans are no different. Let’s see if  Maura can survive Sarah’s nuptials with her homophobic sis in the audience. Keep the drinks a coming.

The Soup [E!, 10p]
Fridays are pretty barren — this one especially so, although there’s a nice Muppet-fest on AMC and of course Transparent arrives off the cord — but we do have only two weeks left of Joel McHale poking fun at reality foibles after E! inexplicably canceled the show after a couple decades (despite their claims, the two Soups were basically the same program). Let’s savor it while we can! So meaty!

Crafts in America [PBS, 10p]
Holiday (Christmas, Kwanzaa) and Winter Traditions (um, cardinal greeting cards) are examined through the lends of celebrating through craft. Which, if you’ve been dragged through stall after stall of “Artisans” at a holiday craft fair, you know is definitely a thing. Most interesting is that the program “also” looks at the Lunar New Year, which is way more interesting than a card you send to your grandma.

What to Watch: 12/10/2015

Nathan For You [Comedy, 10p]
Discomfiting Nathan for You started the 3rd season on a hilarious note with his zig-zagging — and ultimately very sweet — battle with Best Buy and its matching policies, and neurotically (and peculiarly) charming host Nathan Fielder seems poised to go out on the same bang. In season finale, “The Hero,” Fielder takes a somewhat uncomfortable looking in previews average joe and quests to turn him into a national hero — assuredly in his own quixotic manner.         

Elf [ABC Family, 9p]
When I tire of the crowds in midtown this time of year and get into a holiday slump Buddy always knows how to reel me back in. His absurd enthusiasm for snowflake decorating, freestyle songs about his missing dad and his diet composed entirely of sugar always make me feel better about my life. And when else can we see Zooey Deschanel rocking blonde bangs?

Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors [NBC, 9p]
PRAISE DOLLY, I almost picked Toy Story, a befuddling holiday tradition which lacks a winter holiday. Dolly’s Christmas gift to us is a dramatization of young Dolly’s life, inspired by her childhood. Dolly deserves better, but until she gets her own biofilm, let’s bite our tongue about Ricky Schroeder as Dolly’s father.

What to Watch: 12/09/2015

Casual [Hulu, N/A]
Ready to see the repercussions unfold after the awkwardness that was Alex and Valerie’s parents’ wedding. Can Alex really deal with being the other guy when it means sharing his girlfriend with his sister??

South Park [Comedy, 10p]
Due to some sort of machinations that don’t ultimately matter, everyone in South Park decides they need to own a gun — and chaos, insight (probably), and hilarity ensue. As 19 seasons close, I’ve mostly wearied of Trey & Matt and South Park. However, gun control, and the absurdity surrounding American gun culture, is the sort of hot button issue that they tend to knock out of the park. They also (apparently) find time to tackle gentrification, and a spat between Stan and Kyle — so be prepared for it to also be a tad overpacked. Like this write-up.

The Goldbergs [ABC, 8:30p]
Beverly creates “Super Hanukkah,” which sounds stronger than its future rival, Chrismukkah. Your move, Seth Cohen.

WHAT TO WATCH: 12/08/2015

iZombie [The CW, 9pm]
Rob Thomas’s zombies and mortals have kept up their super-quirky pace and that should hit a crescendo tonight as Liv Moore eats the brains and takes the reins of the persona of a superhero vigilante. Meanwhile, the love-to-hateable Blaine manipulates her in the way only he knows how, and Major broods in the way only HE knows how.

Fresh Off the Boat [ABC, 8 pm]
Jessica and Louis convince Evan that Santa is a scientist with multiple post-graduate degrees who’s also a good friend of his mother’s” is all I read before I died laughing. I don’t care if Eddie is at the mall looking for a replicate of the perfume his mother already owns, tell me more everything Santa’s collegiate studies.

Being Mary Jane [BET, 10pm]
Mary Jane seems to finally be back on track after a tumultuous season of loss and extortion in the season finale but the question remains: can she really have it all? 


WHAT TO WATCH: 12/05/2015

The Flight Before Christmas [Lifetime, 8pm]
Tis the season to get stranded in airports after getting dumped by your boyfriend. I was feeling really bad for Mayim Bialik but sprinkle a little Christmas magic and voila, being stranded is not so bad when you meet Mr. Right. Bonus points for the Family Matters reunion of Carl and Harriette Winslow.

It’s A Wonderful Life [NBC, 8pm]
Every time George Bailey jumps off a bridge, we believe in Christmas again, even if the original film has been formatted to fit this time slot.

Ash v Evil Dead [Starz, 9pm]
One of the greatest (and goofiest) zombie killers, Bruce Campbell’s Ash continues to fight the quirky fight in this extension of the Sam Raimi franchise which has not failed to delight.

Happy Birthday, Jay-Z!

JAy-ZShawn Carter is celebrating his 46th birthday today and as a gift he gets his own unauthorized biography. If you want to celebrate with the music mogul you can head over to Netflix and watch the newly added A Genius Leaves The Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay Z. Produced by Moguldom Studios the 60-minute documentary delves into the street-smart and ever cunning mind of hip-hop’s most successful MC by interviewing those who were around him as he hustled his way to the top and proved to us it’s bigger than hip-hop.

Watch the trailer here:

To kick off the bday festivities here are our editor’s picks of all-time fave Jay-Z songs:

“Can’t Knock the Hustle” Reasonable Doubt, 1996
Back to where it all started, this single off his debut album captures the whole essence of his career – his determination to make it big. Add Mary J. Blige on the hook and the remnants of the golden era of hip-hop and you have a timeless street anthem.

“I Just Wanna Love You” The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, 2000
“It’s about to go DOWN!” this is the quintessional club anthem that was the soundtrack to most of my early twenties. Nothing tops actually being in club Amnesia as Jay-Z walks in with his entourage while this song is playing. This song will always hold a nostalgic place in my heart for that moment. And plus, it takes us back to when him and Dame actually got along.

“Izzo” The Blueprint, 2001
Another feel good song which is the first of many produced by Kanye West which ushers in the new era of Roc-A-Fella.

“Guns and Roses” The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Ok, this choice might out me as a lesser Jay-Z fan, but to me it epitomizes the best of Sean Carter’s charms with brash, introspective lyrics laid over the weirdest of genre-grafts featuring a sample of an indie jazz instrumental by Cake and a searing, unforgiving guitar riff from Lenny Kravitz.

“Empire State of Mind” The Blueprint 3
Of all the overplayed songs in the world, had to get this one stuck in my head for a decade. Yes, it’s about as obvious a pick as there is, but it’s real words spoke with real passion about the city that made Hova Hova, and damned if I don’t feel a flush of pride in my hometown when I hear the pounding break.