Falling for Christmas has a ridiculous logline: “Newly engaged, spoiled hotel heiress gets into a skiing accident, suffers from total amnesia and finds herself in the care of a handsome, blue-collar lodge owner and his precocious daughter in the days leading up to Christmas.”
The Netflix romp is notable only as it marks Lindsay Lohan’s return to a genre that made her famous. “It’s such a refreshing, heartwarming romantic comedy and I miss doing those kinds of movies,” Lohan told Netflix, in earnest, while describing her character as, “Extravagant. Temperamental. Glamorous.” You could build a campy slasher flick or porno off such plot scaffolding; none would be great cinema. And yet Falling for Christmas is more complicated than that. Why? Because our bougie Christmas klutz is, after all, the Lindsay Lohan. She is back from her Arabian Elba, but in the 2000s — before ubiquitous social media and the commercialized Kardashian clan — she was the glitzy, glamorous, trashy tabloid queen.
“She defines an era,” pop-culture Twitter repository @PopCulture2000s explains to me. “Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears were and will forever be the ‘It Girls’ of 2000s.” Stan-storian popcultureangel (@lohanisgod) adds:
Lindsay is effortlessly sexy and chic. She just has this natural star quality about her that draws people in. What sets apart Lindsay from the Kardashians and other newer celebrities is that Lindsay doesn’t have to try. She just can exist, and people will always adore her.
Lindsay made films glitter, tabloids bleed, and the Noughties naughty; but Hollywood only planted the seed for her lasting cultural impact as a sort of dizzying and vapid character from Bret Easton Ellis’s Glamorama. Sure, she was a child star, signing with Ford Models at three, breaking into Hollywood at twelve, with 1998’s The Parent Trap; and hitting teen stardom in touchstones like Freaky Friday, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, and the iconic Mean Girls. But her defining role was through the lens of TMZ.
The pop historian behind the Twitter account PopCultureDiedin2009 summarizes: “Mean Girls made her a star, but it’s the movie that’s her life, one more explosive than any Hollywood production, that’s made her into the sort of mythological figure she is today.”
Lindsay made bouncing back and forth between clubs, rehab and prison look chic. She crashed her car; she did not turn up to court; she spent $80,000 on a Porsche while being sued for $90,000 in unpaid bills; she hid under a club table. When she went out wearing a probation ankle bracelet like a hot new accessory, Karl Lagerfeld bought it, releasing a line of fetch Chanel ankle purses. Per popcultureangel: “She was just so glamorous and unbothered. I thought it was so relatable, and I was mesmerized by her in a way. She just did whatever she wanted and looked hot while doing it.”
She was TMZ’s Marilyn Monroe; even drunk, falling out of a club, in shambles, she was their perfect seductress. As popcultureangel declares: “All of her mugshots belong in the Louvre. Let’s just leave it at that.”
As the 2000s waned, Lohan either fled the spotlight or was pushed from it. She moved to quiet Dubai to flee the paparazzi, who are banned there; but she had also long overstayed her welcome at production houses. As PopCultureDiedin2009 notes: “For years she bought into her own hype and assumed that there would always be another role around the corner or another egotistical producer eager to be the one to ‘save’ Lindsay Lohan, and she acted accordingly; disrupting sets, forgetting lines, showing up late. Then the offers and second chances dried up.”
Her return to TV screens in Falling for Christmas is viewed through a similar divide. To some, it is a return of a beloved childhood star, finally healthy and happy, and able to live out the potential she first showed in childhood. “She’s back in America, she’s newly married, and glowing,” popcultureangel tells me, “The Lindsay Lohan Renaissance is finally upon us.”
PopCulture2000s is similarly excited: “With some hindsight, we understand how toxic the media, the paparazzi and critics were with her. A certain compassion has developed over time.”
Falling for Christmas looks bound to be tragicomic and artless pulp, but so what? The trailer is part House of Gucci, part Hot Tub Time Machine, all green-screen backgrounds, cramming as many clichés as possible into a tight ninety seconds of emptiness. It has camp, kitsch, Lindsay Lohan’s tinsel-covered redemption arc, and a narrative that seems faintly reminiscent of her real life: that is enough, because the film is only essential for what it represents, hope. What is more Christmas than that? It is the season of joy, of letting one’s hair down, getting away from the dull necessities of the daily, and embracing the trivial. Those who treat it too seriously or cynically should get over it. Get drunk, fall in love, dress up and be glamorous. Drink Champagne with raspberries on the rim. Sing “Jingle Bell Rock” in a slutty Santa costume, and let your only baggage be a Chanel ankle purse.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s December 2022 World edition.