For what seems like forever, Lifetime and Hallmark have shared ownership of the cheesy, absurdist holiday movie landscape. Now, Netflix is infringing on their territory (duh) by releasing its own slate of cheesy, charming holiday originals. Last week’s buzzy drop, The Princess Switch, stars Vanessa Hudgens in a dual role (!) as Stacy De Novo, a bakery owner from Chicago (a real city), and Lady Margaret Delacourt, duchess of Montenaro (a made-up country). Stacy and Margaret run into each other in Belgravia (another made-up country). Margaret is there planning her wedding to Crown Prince Edward, while Stacy was invited to compete in Belgravia’s 56th-annual Christmas baking competition. They decide to secretly switch places because … well, I’ve seen this movie three times and I still can’t explain it. I just have questions about it. Forty-five questions, to be exact. Starting with ...
Location, Location, Location
1. Why is this movie “set” in Chicago?
The Princess Switch kicks off with 45 seconds of Chicago B-roll, but for as often as Stacy reminds us that she’s “a baker from Chicago,” there’s nothing—truly nothing—that indicates that she actually lives there, not in some other nondescript U.S. city. The movie wasn’t even filmed in Chicago! We’ll come back to this later.
2. Is Stacy even aware that she lives in Chicago?
This … this is not appropriate attire for when there’s snow on the ground in Chicago.
3. Seriously, is she aware?
You’d think she’d be aware, especially because she has that hat (her only one?) to refer back to.
4. Can we get some more info on Belgravia and Montenaro?
We don’t learn a ton about either fake European country in The Princess Switch: Belgravia boasts a world-famous baking competition, a renowned ballet institute, picturesque mountains, and a staunch devotion to Christmas. Montenaro … had a bad snowstorm last winter. And now they’re forming an alliance via arranged marriage!
Frankly, Netflix could take some notes from The Princess Diaries on this one: Pear-obsessed Genovia is a delight.
5. Is there a Netflix Christmas Movie Extended Universe now?!
And are Belgravia and Montenaro on the same made-up European map as Aldovia from A Christmas Prince?
6. How are Stacy and Margaret actually (maybe) related?
According to Margaret and her assistant, Mrs. Donatelli, Margaret’s great-grandmother’s cousin Cecil ran off to the U.S. and married a divorced woman there—and then their daughter married a man with the last name Donofrio, which is eerily similar to Stacy’s last name, De Novo.
Technically, that could make Stacy and Margaret fourth cousins:
Which begs the question ...
7. Why didn’t Stacy call her family for more information as soon as she found out she was related to the royal family of Montenaro?
Certainly someone might know something about the fact her great-grandfather’s cousin was the queen of Montenaro, if it’s true. None of this happened that long ago!
8. If no one knows what Margaret looks like, why can’t she just go out in public and pretend to be normal?
Lady Margaret is so notoriously private that no one in Belgravia knows what she looks like—the entire premise of the movie rests on this information! So why was switching places with Stacy (and lying to everyone and creating a very, very messy situation) even necessary in the first place?
9. Why aren’t paparazzi following Prince Edward and Lady Margaret when they go to the toy store?
No one knows what Lady Margaret looks like, but they definitely know what Prince Edward looks like. Are people in Belgravia really this respectful of the royal family’s privacy?
The Actual Switcheroo
10. Why doesn’t Stacy teach Margaret her secret handshake with Olivia, the daughter of her friend and business partner Kevin?
As soon as we saw Stacy and Olivia’s elaborate secret handshake, we all knew it would be Margaret’s downfall.
11. Why doesn’t Margaret mention that she is a competitive horseback rider and virtuoso pianist?
I mean, this seems like pretty important information to give the person pretending to be you.
12. Doesn’t Margaret know that “I’ve never done this before” is the absolute worst thing you can say when you’ve secretly swapped places with someone?
She says it twice (!) while hanging out with Kevin and Olivia: “I’ve never been to a sing-along before!” “I’ve never been to a toy store before!” Get it together, Duchess. These people you’re with have memories.
13. WHY ARE MARGARET AND STACY SO BAD AT PERSON-SWAPPING PREP AND RESEARCH?!
14. Then again, did they get matching tattoos for this bit?
It's crazy how Stacy and Duchess Margaret not only look exactly alike but also have the same tattoo!— Rachael Ellenbogen (@TheRachaelE) November 17, 2018
*The fact that they forgot to cover up @VanessaHudgens' ink for the duchess only makes me like #ThePrincessSwitch more. Luckily, I still have another hour left to watch pic.twitter.com/pqc6qOEeJb
15. When Olivia exposes Margaret’s ruse, why doesn’t Margaret just tell Kevin too?
We’ll come back to the mistreatment of Kevin later, but for now: Margaret just thinks it would be fun to conspire with his 8-year-old daughter in order to deceive him into falling in love with Margaret-as-Stacy? This achieves none of her stated goals.
16. When Stacy and Margaret switch back, how does Margaret walk all the way back through the palace dressed as Stacy—Chicago hat and all!—without getting caught?
This seems extremely conspicuous.
17. Why didn’t they close the drapes?!
TFW you have someone physically guarding the front door but forget to close the curtains.
18. Wait, is the Chicago setting just an elaborate ruse to set up this United brand placement?
Chicago is a major hub for United, an airline that ostensibly forked over some money to Netflix to be the official carrier of Belgravia.
19. Why is Twister the only commercially produced game in this charming Belgravian toy store?
Old-timey dolls, old-timey stuffed animals, old-timey wooden decorations … giant Twister display?
Shout-out that international footprint, Milton Bradley.
20. Has anyone ever actually played Twister in real life?
Or is it just a go-to plot device for romantic comedies?
21. Did Netflix seriously put product placement for A Christmas Prince inside another Netflix original movie?
Netflixception. I’m going to think about this forever.
Just Curious …
22. Why does Margaret-as-Stacy abandon the fully cooked breakfast?
The only thing she actually burned was the toast!
23. Does every princess movie use the same twinkly gazebo?
24. Does it really take two days for Kevin to realize that he forgot his toothpaste in Chicago, or is that just an excuse for him to be shirtless?
25. How do Margaret and Prince Edward drive this car to the orphanage without losing all the tiny packages tied on top?
26. Why is there mistletoe hanging in an orphanage?
27. Why does a Food Insider Magazine journalist ambush Stacy for an interview on the street?
He wants to write a feature on her. You know magazines have a publicity department, right, FELLOW JOURNALIST?
28. What would Cheetos à la mode taste like?
Stacy’s baking rival Brianna taunts her by saying she’s looking forward to Stacy’s “Cheetos à la mode.” It’s meant to be a dig, but I am interested in sampling this.
29. Is cord-cutting seriously Brianna’s best idea to sabotage Stacy?
Brianna breaks into Wembley Studios at night and attempts to ruin Stacy’s chances of winning the Christmas baking competition by … snipping the plug to her KitchenAid stand mixer? While it’s clear that Stacy and Kevin brought some of their own equipment, a stand mixer would almost certainly be provided by the studio due to differences in European plugs and voltage. Right?
30. Why doesn’t Stacy just ask for a new mixer?
She doesn’t even seem surprised that the plug was cut!
31. Wait. How do Stacy and Kevin build the entire cake without using the stand mixer?
A few hours into the competition, Stacy heads to the KitchenAid in order to start on the cake’s filling, a raspberry puree. But by that time, we can see that the Christmas castle cake is nearly complete and covered in fondant.
Um, did they mix all the cake batter by hand?!
32. Why would Stacy be using a stand mixer to puree berries, anyway?
Look, I’m certainly no Le Cordon Bleu–trained pastry chef, as Stacy is. But it seems like a blender or a food mill would be a better idea here?
33. How do they get the filling inside the cake if the cake was already assembled by the time Stacy went to make the puree?
I need to stop thinking about this.
34. Why does the judge commend Stacy and Kevin for their sugar work when the cake doesn’t seem to contain any notable sugar work?
I really need to stop thinking about this and I especially need to stop watching so much Holiday Baking Championship.
35. Is that the Belgravian royal castle on top of Kevin and Stacy’s cake?
36. Why did Margaret decide to reveal the switcheroo in front of a (presumably) live studio audience?
Again, the entire premise of the movie relies on how intensely private Margaret is. But nope, we’re doin’ it live!
37. WHY IS KEVIN COOL WITH ANY OF THIS AT ALL?!
This is the one lingering question that inspired the 45 others. Because truly: The whole situation is unbelievably messed up. Kevin has been low-key in love with his best friend for years. But when he ~sees her in a new light~ and finally decides to make his big move, he ends up kissing someone else who looks exactly like his best friend and is pretending to be her?! And the person who he thought he was kissing is actually in love with a prince?! This is awful for him!
When Margaret reveals her true identity—and her true love for Kevin—Kevin’s initial response is bewilderment. “But you’re not Stacy!” (Nope, just looks exactly like her.) And to Prince Edward: “Doesn’t that piss you off?” (Nope, Edward’s cool; he’s in love with Stacy!) Despite Kevin’s initial outrage, everyone else acts like this is so completely fine that he seems to fall into step and accept the situation. Kevin, pal: It’s OK to lean into your emotions here. This is wild.
38. Is Margaret really still wearing her engagement ring from Prince Edward while watching Edward propose to Stacy?
39. Why is this entire audience of Belgravians immediately fine with the crown prince leaving his fiancée for a woman who looks like she could be her twin?
True love prevails! This is not weird at all!
40. And what does *the entire country* think of the prince calling off his engagement and marrying someone who looks exactly like his fiancée?
Inquiring minds would like to know more about the state of gossip publications in Belgravia. In the U.K. they would run with this story for, oh, I don’t know, 300 years? But as we saw with the lack of toy store paparazzi, perhaps there is no Belgravian equivalent to the Daily Mail or The Sun?
41. What happens to Stacy’s Sweets and Treats?
We never end up heading back to Chicago, so it’s unclear whether (a) Kevin is running the bakery now, (b) Prince Edward helped Stacy move the bakery to Belgravia, as promised, or (c) Kevin moved to Montenaro to be with Margaret, and the bakery is no more.
42. Did Stacy make another Belgravian castle topper for her wedding cake?
43. Why hasn’t Kevin proposed to Margaret yet?
Actually, I think we know the answer to this.
44. What’s the state of Belgravia-Montenaro political relations now that the arranged marriage between Prince Edward and Lady Margaret has been called off?
There must have been a reason their marriage was arranged in the first place!
45. These two couples knew each other for only three days before upending their entire lives to be together, right?