A Sugar & Spice Holiday Review: A Perfectly Sweet Recipe of Romance, Culture, and Community!

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Yes, I have to say it. A Sugar & Spice Holiday was sugar, spice, and everything nice!

It sounds cheesy, but they lived for the punny quips during this charming film.

They were almost as prevalent as the heartwarming focus on family, community, and the effortless, natural, and overwhelmingly great incorporation of Chinese culture.

Suzy -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

You wouldn't think little things like that should matter, but when you rarely see certain cultures in fictional works, it's incredible when you do.

A Sugar & Spice Holiday, with its predominately AAPI cast, had so many distinctly Chinese-American elements to the film. Still, it never once was the exclusive, tokenized focus of it, and that's how all representation on the air should be.

Mimi and Nema made everything from dumplings and noodles to stinky tofu. Family dinner consisted of their beautiful, blended family using chopsticks. And a cast iron teapot with fresh tea was always within reach at the Yung home.

The Yungs had an altar in the home to honor Nema. You couldn't find a single scene without some red tossed in there, and it seemed to be the color Suzy wore most (and she looked stunning each time).

Lady in Red -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

They spoke of traditional foods that Nema made and that she taught Mahjong at the community center. Suzy spoke about how her parents immigrated to Maine from China and that her father learned English listening to Johnny Cash. It's why he had a Southern accent despite never stepping foot in the South.

Mimi was a classic Chinese mom, loving but also a bit critical, and one of her first laugh-out-loud moments was when she had to throw out there that Suzy was single, smart, beautiful, and she had wide hips (presumably for child-bearing).

Mimi was hilarious and a total scene-stealer. The Keanu Reeves quip (he is a beloved Asian-American figure, and it's not up for debate) was perfection. And her insistence that she couldn't sell her traditional Chinese cuisine at their restaurant because of their average patrons' inability to handle spice was hysterical.

Mimi -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

And her utter disdain for Americans' view of Chinese food having anything to do with Kung Pao something or another from some chain restaurant amused, too.

I'm sure there are so many other things the film got right regarding the details -- from Suzy's perspective as a first-generation Chinese-American to Marshall's typical microaggression five minutes in regarding Suzy celebrating Christmas and inquiry of her original origins.

She's from Maine, Marshall. That's where she's "really" from, sir.

Keeping with tradition, Suzy served as the career-oriented lead, who had the task of saving a valuable landmark of her joyful, small town while also working extensively through the holiday season on a project that could earn her the coveted promotion she desired.

An Old Friend -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

Suzy wasn't an ad executive. Instead, she was an architect, which was the gift that kept giving since constructing a gingerbread house in the Gingerlicious bake-off was the final task. Also, she could redesign and save the beloved community center with her incredible skills.

Suzy was passionate about her job, and the flashback with her and Nema showed that well. She has wanted to be an architect since she was a young girl, and Nema, the cheerleader that she was, encouraged her.

But as much as she loved her job, it was annoying that she had to deal with so much. Marshall was a total cad, and he patted himself on the back for his inability to pull off work-life balance.

Marshall -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

Meanwhile, Suzy's boss, one of those annoying types always on a food cleanse, promised a promotion that Suzy had clearly earned already to both Suzy and Marshall.

Why should they have needed to pull off another complex account to get a promotion she already promised them?

Then she pestered Suzy every chance she got and continued to compare the two of them. Did Suzy need to hear about how far along Marshall was with his pitch? No, she did not. She had more important things to focus on, dammit.

Overall, the only reason viewers probably tolerated Suzy's job was because of how passionate she was about it.

Bake Queen -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

Suzy was a bit high-strung. She barely embraced uncertainty and rejected anything where she couldn't succeed.

It didn't make her a total snooze, though. She managed to be down to earth too. And adorably quirky.

Suzy's assessment of every person in her life by comparing them to their sweet treat equivalent as if she was a walking sorter for a Buzzfeed article was funny and cute.

Do me next, Suzy! It was a creative way to rundown the personalities of the characters at first introduction. But the best part was how Billy's baked good equivalent evolved throughout the movie.

Whipping Up Cookies-  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

The more time she spent with him, the better his sweet baked good placement was for her.

By the end, they were matching pairs -- sweet and spicy gingerbread cutouts made for each other.

Billy was the perfect counterbalance for Suzy. They were similar and different in all the right ways. All Suzy had to do was let go of the high school version of him, which she was most familiar with.

She knew him best as a prankster and menace. He sounded like their town's version of Ferris Bueller.

Billy -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

But Billy was so much more than the young teen who didn't take anything seriously. His devotion to his father, their community, and the center was admirable.

He still possessed a mischievous streak, but when he pulled Suzy, or Suzy Sugar as he affectionately called her, into trouble, it was the sort she needed.

Billy reminded her to loosen up and have fun. He showed her that it's okay not to be the best at everything and that it's good to have fun in addition to completing a goal.

He showed her that it's okay to be silly and embarrass yourself a bit -- to let go.

Sweet and Spice -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

It's what he always wanted to teach her, even when they were teens. If Suzy didn't get sucked into some of Billy's antics during their youth, she wouldn't have learned how to have fun.

Their harmless teen fun endeared, and as much as Mimi loathed the idea of Billy dragging Suzy into trouble, deep down, even she couldn't deny it's what Suzy needed.

Interestingly enough, Suzy was harder on herself than anyone else. Her go-getter attitude and insistence that she had to make everyone proud in specific ways were expectations she placed on herself.

Everyone who cared about her was already proud.

Yung Men -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

The downside to Suzy's thought process here was how she tried to push it on Billy, too.

No matter what she saw from Billy as they worked together, and everything he said about how unhappy he was working in Silicon Valley for years and how returning to their hometown and serving the community fulfilled him more, Suzy thought she knew best.

Contacting her friend at the toy company and telling her about and sending a photo of Billy's robot project was wrong on many levels.

In Suzy's mind, Billy needed a push in the right direction, and his reluctance resulted from him not taking his career seriously or procrastinating.

Two Peas in a Pod -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

Even if she didn't intend it, the message she sent him was that he was some underachiever or failed unless he found success with this venture -- as if his value came in his status in a certain field or had to do with his success in one particular area.

Suzy's career made her happy, despite all the stress it brought on, so she equated happiness with a career when it wasn't the same for Billy. He explained it quite clearly when he lamented his years spent working in Silicon Valley, but it was as if she didn't hear him.

Billy loved many things about Suzy, but her listening skills can't be one of them. Yet, it wasn't the least bit surprising that they both had feelings for the other during high school and never shared it.

Sexy Baking -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

They were a lovely couple, and they balanced each other out well. It was hard not to smile whenever Suzy and Billy shared some of their sweeter moments or swoon when they had that sexy one in the kitchen. They couldn't stop making each other laugh, and that's one of the most important things you can do with another person.

Laughter will get you through some of the toughest times. Billy was also so supportive of Suzy at every turn and encouraging too.

His unwavering faith in her is what Suzy needed most as she got back into baking after Nema died.

It was something she only did with her grandmother -- the special time they spent together-- and Suzy couldn't bring herself to do it again after Nema passed away. But the community center was too important to Nema, and so was the Gingerlicious bake-off, which was a competition that Nema won every year.

Baking with Nema -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

It's doubtful Suzy would've ever worked up the nerve to bake again if Billy didn't give her a much-needed push. With the combination of her skills and Nema's recipes, Billy's gift for baking bread, and their lovable team, including Suzy's bubbly former nemesis and the winsome Stavros, they had a real shot at winning the competition.

If they won, they could've saved the community center, and with that type of motivation, you couldn't help but root for them with everything inside of you.

But the twins were the best rivals. They were hilarious with their pretentious baked goods, matching holiday aprons, and inability to credit the entire team for their achievements.

Rival Team -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

Suzy's predictable mixup of salt and sugar could've taken them out for good, but thankfully, the other team cheated, and they weren't down and out. By winning the bake-off, it was the perfect homage to Nema, who everyone adored, and it helped them save the community center.

And Suzy poured her heart into redesigning it and making it bigger and better than ever, even though she had to do it from Australia.

Of course, the promotion wasn't enough. Suzy had to move to the other side of the world, too.

Oddly enough, as upset as Suzy was when she thought Kate passed her over for the promotion, it felt as though she already accepted it and was more upset about hurting Billy.

Dad Comforts Suzy -  A Sugar & Spice Holiday

The surprise of the movie came from Suzy earning the promotion and choosing to accept it. Most of the time, you expect the person to conclude that their career isn't everything, and they're happier doing something else -- staying in their hometown with their family.

However, they didn't deprive Suzy of her win. They recognized that Suzy's career mattered to her, and she shouldn't have to give it up for anything or anyone regardless of the reasoning.

Instead, Billy was more than happy to follow Suzy to Australia. He even joked about Suzy becoming his sugar momma and living the sweet life down under.

Enjoying a Homemade Meal - A Sugar & Spice Holiday

It's lovely that Suzy didn't have to give up her career or her true love, and Billy, ever the adventurous one -- he got to follow Suzy without it seeming as though some big sacrifice that cost him. It felt right up his alley anyway.

And if all of that wasn't great, he won Mimi over when he actually enjoyed her stinky tofu and other traditional Chinese dishes that he missed out on after his own mother left, and she approved.

It turned out, the way to Mimi's heart was appreciating what she put in your stomach. Again, Mimi was an absolute hoot. Lillian Lim is a queen, and she stole this entire film. I need Mimi in my life!

Over to you, Lifetime Fanatics! Did A Sugar & Spice Holiday give you all the warm fuzzies? Hit the comments below!


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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