From President Meryl Streep to an adorable pufferfish, here's what's new on Netflix this December

'Tis the season for queer holiday rom-coms, international adventures and the inevitable return of “Emily in Paris"

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published December 4, 2021 12:59PM (EST)

Meryl Streep plays President Orlean in "Don't Look Up" (Nico Tavernise/Netflix)
Meryl Streep plays President Orlean in "Don't Look Up" (Nico Tavernise/Netflix)

Cue the sleigh bells and hang low the mistletoe because the Netflix holiday season is upon us, brought to you by a bunch of Jennifers. The streaming platform welcomes Jennifer Lawrence back to the big screen as an astronomer, plus Jennifer Coolidge and Jennifer Robertson ("Schitt's Creek," "Ginny and Georgia") engage in some Christmas hijinks.

If actresses named Jennifer don't strike your fancy, then fret not for there are plenty more seasonal entertainments to enjoy. For lovers of festive baking paired with jolly good competition, be sure to tune in for the return of "The Great British Baking Show: Holidays." The popular international series, "How To Ruin Christmas," returns for more laugh-out-loud adventures with Tumi and her eccentric family. And animated family specials, like "Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas" and "StarBeam: Beaming in the New Year," will keep the kiddies entertained.

RELATED: "The Great British Baking Show" was a showwstopper, redeemed this season by fantastic contestants

December is also a big month for documentaries. "Voir" — a docuseries from "Fight Club" director David Fincher — explores the most influential films in history and the beauty of cinema with collections of visual essays. "Stories of a Generation – with Pope Francis" is a heartwarming assemblage of personal and life stories from elderly women and men all over the world.

As for what to catch before the end of the year, "Titanic," "Charlie's Angels" (2000), the first season of "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Zodiac" are just a few fan-favorite titles that are getting ready to bid adieu.

Here are highlights of what's coming:

"The Power of the Dog," Dec. 1

Jane Campion's adaptation of Thomas Savage's 1967 Western novel examines toxic masculinity and latent homosexuality through the rocky relationship between brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemons). Conflict soon reaches its peak after George invites his new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) to live with him and Phil in their shared ranch home. Read Salon's review of the breathtaking film.

"Single All the Way," Dec. 2

Michael Urie stars as Peter, an everlasting bachelor who desperately looks for a date to accompany him home during the holidays. He ultimately convinces his roommate and best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to tag along. Despite their platonic relationship, the pair soon question their feelings for each other after a little encouragement from Peter's wacky but well-meaning family members. Jennifer Coolidge, Kathy Najimy, Barry Bostwick and Jennifer Robertson co-star.

"Nicole Byer: BBW (Big Beautiful Weirdo)," Dec. 7

In her hour-long comedy special, Nicole Byer reminisces over all the craziness spurred by a pandemic-plagued year-plus and jokes about everything from her ideal type to her ambiguous veganism. Filmed at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City.

"The Unforgivable," Dec. 10

Based on the 2009 British miniseries "Unforgiven," Netflix's latest gritty drama centers around Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock), an ex-convict who strives to abandon her murderous past and reconnect with the younger sister she was forced to leave behind. The film also stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Viola Davis and Jon Bernthal.

"The Hand of God," Dec. 15

Director Paolo Sorrentino's emotional yet therapeutic concoction is inspired by his Italian youth and an ardent appreciation for the late Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona. The film's title both illustrates protagonist Fabietto Schisa's (Filippo Scotti) coming-of-age tale and refers to Maradona's 1986 World Cup goal against England.

"Puff: Wonders of the Reef," Dec. 16

Following the success of Netflix's Academy Award-winning documentary, "My Octopus Teacher," comes another aquatic masterpiece that now shines the spotlight on a tiny sharpnose pufferfish — aptly named Puff. Rose Byrne narrates baby Puff's escapades as he tries to find his place within the convoluted world of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

"The Witcher" Season 2, Dec. 17 

After various COVID delays and an injury, we can finally return to the Continent to resume the fantastical adventures of Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) and Princess Ciri (Freya Allan) as they figure out what it means to be linked by destiny. Plus, we'll find out where Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) disappeared to as the world is embroiled in war, magic and mayhem.

"Jim Gaffigan: Comedy Monster," Dec. 21

The ongoing pandemic — hello omicron variant — has become a central dilemma in our daily lives and a hot topic amongst comedy shows. In his latest special, Jim Gaffigan quips about marching bands, billionaires — notably ones in space — and the s**tshow that is 2021. Heat up your hot pockets and enjoy!

"Don't Look Up," Dec. 24

In Adam McKay's sci-fi comedy (co-written by former Salon contributor David Sirota) — which satirizes the climate change crisis — the world is at risk of being destroyed by a giant comet hurtling toward Earth. Two lowly astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence) attempt to warn the greater public about the incoming danger but instead, are met with indifference from the president (Meryl Streep in a deliciously hammy role), her Chief of Staff/son (Jonah Hill) and the general public. Rob Morgan, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Ron Pearlman, Scott Mescudie and more star in a satire about the subsequent perils of not heeding science.

 "The Silent Sea," Dec. 24

Netflix's highly anticipated K-drama takes place in space and follows a team of space observers who attempt to retrieve samples from a secretive and abandoned research station known as "the silent sea." Superstar Gong Yoo ("Train to Busan" star and "Squid Game" recruiter), Bae Doona ("Sense8"), Lee Joon and Heo Sung-tae star in this suspenseful drama. 

"Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer," Dec. 29

Netflix's true crime series continues with a three-episode season on the vile New York City murders carried out by Richard Cottingham, a.k.a The Torso Killer. The docuseries examines the faults of both social and systemic forces, which helped fuel Cottingham's unsettling plunge into the city's lawless neighborhoods during the late 1970s and early '80s.  

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"The Lost Daughter," Dec. 31

Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her directorial debut with the psychological thriller, based on Elena Ferrante's novel of the same name, that challenges commonplace ideas regarding motherhood. Olivia Colman ("The Crown") stars as Leda Caruso, a woman on holiday who becomes obsessed with and Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter. The film received a four-minute standing ovation after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and cleaned up at the recent Gotham Film Awards.

"Queer Eye" Season 6, Dec. 31

The Fab Five — Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, and Karamo Brown — are back, now in Austin, Texas. Together, they tackle a new round of makeovers while adorned in a yee-haw wardrobe filled with cowboy hats, boots, belts and . . . saddles?!

Here's the full list of everything coming to Netflix this month:

Dec. 1
"Are You The One" Season 3
"Blood and Bone"
"Body of Lies"
"Bordertown: Mural Murders"
"Death at a Funeral"
"Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat"
"The Final Destination"
"Final Destination 3"
"Final Destination 5"
"Fool's Gold"
"The Fourth Kind"
"Ink Master" Season 3
"Ink Master" Season 4
"JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: STONE OCEAN"
"Kayko and Kokosh"
"Kayko and Kokosh" Season 2
"Knight Rider 2000"
"Knight Rider" Seasons 1-4
"Law Abiding Citizen"
"The Legend of Zorro"
"Lost in Space" Season 3
"The Mask of Zorro"
"Minority Report"
"Pet Sematary" (1989)
"Sabrina" (1995)
"Soul Surfer"
"Stuart Little 2"
"Sucker Punch"
"Think Like a Man"
"We Were Soldiers"
"Wild Things"
"Wyatt Earp"

Dec. 2
"The Alpinist"
"Escalona" Season 1
"The Whole Truth"

Dec. 3
"Cobalt Blue"
"Coming Out Colton"
"Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous" Season 4
"Money Heist" Part 5, Vol 2
"The Great British Baking Show: Holidays" Season 4
"Money Heist: From Tokyo to Berlin" Volume 2
"Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas"

Dec. 5
"Japan Sinks"

Dec. 6
"David and the Elves"

Dec. 7
"Centaurworld" Season 2
"Go Dog Go" Season 2 

Dec. 8
"Carolin Kebekus: The Last Christmas Special"

Dec. 9
"Asakusa Kid" 
"Bathtubs Over Broadway"
"Bonus Family" Season 4 
"The Family That Sings Together: The Camargos"

Dec. 10
"Anonymously Yours"
"Back to the Outback"
"How To Ruin Christmas: The Funeral"
"Twentysomethings: Austin" 
"Saturday Morning All Star Hits!" 
"The Shack"
"Still Out of My League"

Dec. 11
"Fast Color"
"The Hungry and the Hairy"

Dec. 12

Dec. 13
"Eye in the Sky"

Dec. 14
"The Future Diary"
"Russell Howard: Lubricant"
"StarBeam: Beaming in the New Year"

Dec. 15
"Black Ink Crew New York" Seasons 3-4
"The Challenge" Season 12
"The Challenge" Season 25
"Elite Short Stories: Phillipe Caye Felipe"
"The Giver"
"Masha and the Bear: Nursery Rhymes" Season 1, Part 2
"Masha and the Bear"Season 5
"Selling Tampa"
"Teen Mom 2" Seasons 3-4

Dec. 16
"A California Christmas: City Lights"
"A Naija Christmas"
"Aggretsuko" Season 4
"Darkest Hour"

Dec. 17
"Fast & Furious Spy Racers" Season 6: Homecoming

Dec. 18
"Bulgasal: Immortal Souls"

Dec. 19
"What Happened in Oslo"

Dec. 20
"Elite Short Stories: Samuel Omar"

Dec. 21
"Grumpy Christmas"

Dec. 22
"Emily in Paris" Season 2 

Dec. 23
"Elite Short Stories: Patrick"

Dec. 24
"1000 Miles from Christmas"
"Minnal Murali"
"STAND BY ME Doraemon 2"
"Vicky and Her Mystery"
"Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous"

Dec. 25
"Single's Inferno"
"Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material"
"Stories of a Generation - with Pope Francis"

Dec. 26

Dec. 28
"Word Party Presents: Math!"

Dec. 29
"Anxious People"

Dec. 30
"Hilda and the Mountain King"

Dec. 31
"Cobra Kai" Season 4
"Stay Close"
"Seal Team"

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon, covering Culture and Food. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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