Why is the new Netflix movie 'Holidate' set in Chicago? We love the holidays, screenwriter says

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Emma Roberts as Sloane Reed and Luke Bracey as Jackson in "Holidate." - Steve Dietl/Netflix/TNS/TNS

CHICAGO — We’re still dealing with the fallout of Emily Cooper’s transformation from cringey Winnetka, Illinois fashionista to cringey Parisian know-it-all on “Emily in Paris,” and Netflix is already dropping a new romantic comedy that’s set in Chicago.

Premiering Wednesday, “Holidate” follows hot-mess singleton Sloane (played by Emma Roberts) as she strikes an unusual deal with Aussie commitment-phobe Jackson (Luke Bracey). They both hate major holidays — where Sloane is often badgered about not being in a relationship, and Jackson’s dates take things too far — so they serve as each other’s platonic plus-ones throughout a year of festivities.

Most of the “Holidate” action takes place indoors, which hides the fact the movie was not shot in Chicago. Filming occurred over 34 days in the Atlanta area in the spring of 2019. Surprisingly, quite a few scenes take place at the so-called Lakeview Mall. Perhaps the inspiration was Water Tower Place, Woodfield Mall, or that much ballyhooed Winnetka outlet mall referenced in “Emily in Paris.”

There are some requisite Chicago-area plugs: Sloane hails from Logan Square (though a map featured in the movie places Logan Square much further south than in real life); and Kristin Chenoweth plays Sloane’s aunt, who met one of her holidates when she posed nude for a figure sculpture class at the Art Institute. There doesn’t actually appear to be a Little Miss Evanston pageant, but perhaps that can be the subject of Netflix’s next movie.

There are also a few real-life Chicago connections: Sloane’s brother-in-law is played by “Saturday Night Live” cast member Alex Moffat, a graduate of North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka; and screenwriter and executive producer Tiffany Paulsen lived in Chicago for about five years.

The Washington native said she chose Chicago as the setting since she loves the city and knows it well.

“Because the hook of the romance was a year of dates, I knew I wanted to set the story in a city that would really reflect the change in seasons. Snowy winters, fall foliage, summer fun on the lake!” Paulsen said in an email to the Tribune. “Additionally, Chicago loves the holidays! From famously turning the river green on St. Patty’s Day, to the lights on Michigan Avenue at Christmas, I knew aesthetically it would tick all the boxes to really highlight each one of the holiday celebrations!”


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