Arts & Culture

Southern Streaming: Country Christmases, Greek Gods, and a Savannah-Set Scandal

December’s standout series and movies with Southern ties

A boy stands on a rock in a forest

Photo: Disney/David Bukach

Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Oh, you’re excited about watching all the great college football airing this month? The championships? The bowl games? Congrats. I’m so happy for you. I’m not bitter AT ALL that my (unnamed) alma mater lost pitiably to our (unnamed) rival to cap off a losing season, and I’m definitely NOT pretending like the college football season in totum died right there on the field along with our bowl hopes. But, in case you ARE bitter and ARE pretending football doesn’t exist, here are some worthy Southern-tinged films and series to distract me, I mean you, from your nihilism.

Purple and Gold

Oprah and The Color Purple Journey, Max

It’s usually my Christmas tradition to do as little as possible and stay in my giant fluffy red robe like an overstuffed Mrs. Claus all day, but just as soon as I can button my pants, my butt will be in a seat to see Southerners Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Ciara, and Halle Bailey’s musical take on Alice Walker’s canonical novel The Color Purple, which lands in theaters on the 25th (trailer below). I’m also eager to watch Max’s behind-the-scenes documentary by Oprah Winfrey, who starred in the 1985 rendition and helped this one come to life, when it streams December 28. 

Head South for Scandal

May December, Netflix

photo: Francois Duhamel / courtesy of Netflix
Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman in May December.

We geriatric millennials will surely remember Mary Kay Letourneau, the Seattle teacher who in the nineties raped her TWELVE-YEAR-OLD student, went to prison for it, had his babies, and married him upon her release. No? Well Oscar darlings Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman are here to remind you in this fictionalized (and critically lauded) take on the scandal that streams starting December 1. But this time, they’ve moved the (underage) action to…Savannah. What did Savannah do to deserve this?? Except offer fabulous tax breaks???

Grand Ole Spectacle

Christmas at the Opry, Peacock

Need some background music as you deck your halls? You might put on this two-hour NBC special when it airs December 7, or stream it on Peacock the next day. Hosted by Wynonna Judd, the Nashville shindig will star the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Mickey Guyton, and This Is Us actress and songstress Chrissy Metz, who told G&G about her love of singing here. On the sixty-fifth anniversary of her hit “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Atlanta-born crooner Brenda Lee will also perform (and perhaps make a case for finally unseating Mariah Carey for the number-one spot on the Billboard Holiday 100). 

photo: Katherine Bomboy/NBC
Kelly Clarkson at the Opry.

Not to Be Out-Nashvilled

CMA Country Christmas, Hulu

Okay, but I couldn’t leave off CMA’s fourteenth annual holiday hootenanny, which streams on Hulu on December 15 the day after it airs live on ABC—especially since my girls Trisha Yearwood and Amy Grant host. This year’s other performers include G&G favorites Ashley McBryde and the War and Treaty.

photo: ABC
The War and Treaty on CMA Country Christmas.

God of YA

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Disney+

Fans of young adult fiction and ancient myths lotus-ate up the San Antonio, Texas, native Rick Riordan’s utterly delightful Percy Jackson book series, about the half-sons and -daughters of Greek gods and goddesses. Film adaptations have barely done the Percy world justice, so my hopes are high for this Disney+ series, with which Riordan was heavily involved; the first episodes drop December 20.