Over Christmas has the classic seasonal setup of returning to a complicated family for Christmas, but its familiarity and unlikable protagonist let down its intermittently funny writing and performances.
Fitting right into Netflix’s rapidly burgeoning collection of festive content, three-episode limited series Over Christmas is another seasonal offering — but, like Santa’s trusty sack, it’s a mixed bag of presents and ungainly lumps of coal, and audiences will likely be pretty mixed on it.
Coming out of Germany, a nation not exactly known for its humor, and starring German comedian and Lil Dicky lookalike Luke Mockridge, Over Christmas blends comedy with family and relationship drama across three episodes that could have each stood to be about 15 minutes shorter. Mockridge plays Bastian, a struggling musician who is working in a call center and living a frugal, lonely existence after breaking up with his girlfriend, Fine (Cristina do Rego). After a botched audition, he returns home for the Christmas period to the town of Eifel, planning to spend the holidays with his mother, Brigitte (Johanna Gastdorf), father Walter (Rudolf Kowalski), brother Niklas (Lucas Reiber), and Niklas’s new girlfriend… who happens to be Bastian’s ex, Fine.
You can see where a lot of this is going. A secret held by Bastian’s parents threatens to complicate matters after a first episode which sees the already-struggling Bastian dealing with this new revelation rather terribly. This, as it happens, is part of the problem with Over Christmas, which positions Bastian in the lead role and then spends a lot of time making us dislike him. By all accounts, Niklas and Fine seem well-matched and pretty reasonable; the only reason Bastian didn’t know about their relationship is that he didn’t return his brother’s calls. A lot of his outbursts seem childish, and whenever the show flirts with seriousness he tends to ruin the moment with dumb decisions.
Still, Over Christmas can be amusing in its way, and it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome. The English dub is also surprisingly strong, and Mockridge is an interesting performer. The dynamic or overall direction of the series certainly isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, especially at this time of year, but those in the market for a laidback and intermittently entertaining Christmas comedy might do okay here. Mileage will vary.