As things begin, we’re introduced to a predominately female family who, tied together by Sonja, may not be dysfunctional but certainly not tight-knit.
|Directed By||Samira Radsi|
|Written & Created By||Katharina Eyssen|
|Air Date (Netflix)||11/20/2019|
|Introduced This Episode|
|Sonja (Present)||Christiane Paul|
|Sonja (Younger)||Emilie Neumeister|
|Ljubica (Present)||Anita Vulesica|
|Ljubica (Younger)||Laura von Beloseroff|
|Vivi (Present)||Svenja Jung|
|Vivi (Younger)||Lorna zu Solms|
|Lara (Present)||Leonie Benesch|
|Lara (Younger)||Tolda Jenkins|
1989: Alma, Eva, Sonja, Peter, Ljubi, Olaf
When Sonja was younger, she witnessed her grandmother Alma dealing with Alzheimer’s, which seems to run in the family. Luckily, her mother Eva was able to afford Ljubica, Ljubi, to help take care of her and keep her from trying to escape to Berlin regularly. But, while Alma provided some excitement, Sonja was ready to give her a run for her money.
How? Well, by deciding, with boyfriend at the time Peter, future father to Vivi, to never mind becoming a lawyer and heading to Columbia. Which, as you can imagine, Eva didn’t support. As for Sonja’s father, Olaf? Let’s just say that while they weren’t at odds, the man seemed so detached from what was happening due to an injury he claims happened 40 years ago in which a piece of shrapnel ended up in his neck. Something that, Eva pushes not to be true.
2004: Eva, Sonja, Vivi, Lara
In the 2000s, we learn Sonja, after having Vivi with Peter, and Lara with some beekeeper, has decided to be a free spirit and have her mother, Eva, raise her children. Which, from what we see, wasn’t a hardship on her, and she didn’t mind. In fact, it may have been one of those second chances many grandparents seek since now they know what to do with a child. But, even with Eva raising them, that doesn’t lessen their desire to be around Sonja when she chooses to pop up.
Present Day: Eva, Sonja, Vivi, Lara, Moritz
With Eva now in her golden years and Sonja clean for a whole 16 weeks, it makes for an interesting Christmas. One in which the newly engaged Lara finds her news a bit upstaged by her mother, but it’s fine. After all, Lara is the normal one, the boring one, the chemist and book reader, of the family. Meanwhile, Vivi, despite her issues with her mother, has pretty much followed her footsteps.
How so? Well, lot’s of traveling, lack of consistency, but she has gotten a record deal – or so she claims. But as for what talent she has? Well, we don’t hear any singing to know.
It Finds A Way To Have Drama Without Being Over The Top
Between Alzheimer’s and rooted in realness issues between mothers and daughters, Holiday Secrets figures a way to toe the line between what could create a madhouse or a slew of passive-aggressive scenes linked together. For example, Sonja’s sudden appearance in the present could lead to a lot of yelling, screaming, either in joy or anger, yet that isn’t done. Also, while Vivi clearly is estranged from her mother, she isn’t trying to avoid being in the same room with her. Instead you get that usual, “Are you for real this time, or should I not get my hopes up?” kind of approach. Which, as a viewer, makes you wonder, as we see Sonja try to reconcile, will she break as she is confronted directly rather than playing the scenario in her head?
How It Uses Three Time Periods To Flesh Out The Family
While there is a small learning curve with who is who, outside of Lara whose actors in present-day and younger seem like family, once you get it, so comes seeing how one thing led to another. How Alma raised Eva, led to how she raised Sonja, and likely changed her approach when it comes to Vivi and Lara. Much less, if not more, when it comes to the children, how the dysfunction of their parents led them to choose things in life.
Alma, being as bold and ready to take on the world as she was, gave birth to Eva, who, like Lara, seems to play it on the safe side. However, Alma’s ways got into Sonja and Vivi, who seemingly likes to party, be wild, and engage life in ways which doesn’t always serve them. And it is with matching people up to who they take after that you can see how each generation is like the last, and perhaps repeats their mistakes.
On The Fence
Despite Being A Half Hour Episode, It Feels Longer
While very much engaging, there is still this pace that makes it so you feel like you are watching a period piece, and it makes things feel slow. For example, I checked how much time was left about 12 to 15 minutes in, thinking the episode was over, since it felt like a half-hour went by.
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