It's the movie that, as Britain's Independent put it, Netflix viewers "are struggling to believe exists."
If you were bingeing Netflix over the Thanksgiving weekend, you might have noticed promotions for A Christmas Prince, one of the new original films from the streaming service that's known for prestige projects like The Crown (returning for a second season on Dec. 8) and Orange is the New Black.
And, OK, for Fuller House.
If you were on Twitter, you may have noticed some chatter about this probably too-oft-told tale of an American who falls in love with a royal from a country that only sounds like a country.
Some may have been charmed, but some were skeptical. I watched and I'm still shaking my head. Before you click Play, here are some things to know about Netflix's A Christmas Prince:
- It's not the Meghan Markle story, however much we wish it were. The Suits star and Prince Harry did give the British tabloids a whopping big present on Monday, and their story, too, is about a beautiful American and a handsome royal. But at least theirs takes place in a country we've heard of, while A Christmas Prince is set in Aldovia, just a hop, skip, and a jump, we imagine, from the Genovia ruled over by Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries).
- It is not a Hallmark Channel movie that simply lost its way. Hallmark has its own plucky American-meets-European-royal movies. The 2015 Crown for Christmas stars Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) as a fired maid who becomes a governess to the daughter of a widowed king, with predictable results. In 2014, Lacey Chabert starred in A Royal Christmas as a Philadelphia seamstress in love with the heir to the throne of Cordinia. In fairness, Netflix isn't the only network chasing Hallmark's viewers. On Dec. 3, Lifetime premieres My Christmas Prince, in which an American woman discovers her boyfriend is heir to the throne of — wait for it — Madelvia, and must decide if she wants to give up the exciting life of a Manhattan schoolteacher to live in a country no one will ever find on a map.
- Although it's tempting to believe that A Christmas Prince was written by a computer program into which a human simply typed the words Christmas and prince, the story is credited to Karen Schaler, a former TV newswoman who's reported from war zones, and the screenplay to Nathan Atkins, whose writing credits include Deadly Descent: The Abominable Snowman and How Not to Propose.
- Rose McIver, who plays the eager young journalist sent to Aldovia to uncover a royal scandal and who ends up masquerading as the tutor to Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey), has a lot more range than A Christmas Prince would suggest. On the CW's more realistic iZombie, she's terrific as an undead assistant in the medical examiner's office who helps solve murders by eating the victims' brains.
- Even if no one else knows you've watched A Christmas Prince, Netflix will know (and is probably already ordering a sequel). So before you press Play, ask yourself if you're ready for the suggestions that might next appear under "Because you watched …"