It must be officially Christmas now that we’ve seen the early premiere of the annual John Lewis Christmas advert. Unexpected Guest is predictably adorable, though perhaps not as much of a tear-jerker as some of the previous commercials, and plays it safe after the controversial home insurance ad.
Against the soundtrack of Philip Oakley and Giorgio Moroder’s Together in Electric Dreams, performed by 20-year-old South London newcomer Lola Young, we meet young Nathan, who’s on his way home from school when he sees a glowing UFO fall out of the sky into the woods.
He goes to investigate and discovers a fallen spacecraft and a rather beautiful humanoid alien named Skye. Scared, he runs home where his family are putting up Christmas decorations. After reflecting on this strange experience, he returns to the woods and decides to teach the alien all about Christmas.
He shows her his light-up Jingle Bells Christmas jumper, and introduces her to Christmas trees, Christmas lights, mince pies, snowball fights and Hallmark movies. One evening, he notices the lights flashing and a strange pulsing coming from the woods. He runs back to Skye, catching her as she’s about to leave for home and gives her his jumper. She kisses him on the cheek and the pair say goodbye.
Of course, innocuous as Unexpected Guest may seem, there will always be some that take issue. Many keyboard warriors have taken to Twitter to blast the ad for being too “woke”, though it’s unclear what is woke about about a little boy befriending an alien. Are aliens woke now? Is teaching aliens about Christmas woke? Do let us know.
It’s not caused as much of a fuss as the John Lewis Home Insurance advert, which saw a boy in his mother’s dress and make-up making a mess of the house while his sister sits quietly and paints. At first glance it feels like it’s embracing the idea of normalising gender expression, but then as one Twitter user pointed out, it is simply perpetuating existing stereotypes of boys being boisterous and messy, and girls being meek and sensible.
The ad was eventually pulled for being potentially misleading, when many viewers pointed out that John Lewis’ home contents insurance would not necessarily cover all these damages.
We can’t see how Unexpected Guest can cause too many problems, however, apart from the fact that it doesn’t quite match the emotion of 2015’s The Man on the Moon, or indeed the cuteness of 2014’s Monty the Penguin and 2016’s Buster the Boxer.
Meanwhile, the M&S Christmas advert is serious competition for John Lewis this year; Tom Holland plays the voice of Percy Pig with Dawn French as his fairy friend leading him around the Christmas food aisles in store at night. Now, where do we get a Dawn French fairy for the top of our tree?