The first thing that stands out about Santa Inc. is that it is definitely not the usual feel-good children's holiday series.
Stop-motion Christmas specials, dating back to 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, are ingrained in Christmas traditions; they are festival treats exclusively targeted towards children.
But this season, HBO Max gifted its audiences an adult-targeted stop-motion picture, simply because - why should kids have all the fun?
Creator Alexandra Rushfield has taken a wild detour from her usual works to explore Christmas for adults. Santa Inc. is crude and raunchy, even cynical to some extent, without wholly abandoning the holiday spirit. The show was intended to be more subversive than entertaining by portraying Santa and his toy factory in a different light.
Plot summary of 'Santa Inc.'
Santa Inc. follows the exploits of Santa Claus who runs his toy factory in the North Pole. But all is not as rosy and pure as Christmas is made to seem. Targeted towards a more adult audience, Santa Inc. seeks to explore the dark sides of Christmas and Santa by exploring the characters as more human than going into the binaries of good and evil.
The story starts with Santa's second-in-command, Brent, bailing on him and his company, Santa Inc., to work for Amazon - yes, the multi-million dollar company the entire world is familiar with.
Without a successor, Santa is worried. His board of directors are pressuring him to choose a successor, and that is where Candy, the elf, comes in. Candy was under Brent's command, but with him gone, she took charge as chief of operations. This makes her dream bigger.
What if she could become the first woman Santa in history?
Her plan does not seem viable to anyone and she is laughed at. But that doesn't stop her from dreaming; she approaches Santa, who takes her proposal into consideration.
But as Candy strives harder to achieve her goal, she stumbles on darker secrets about Santa and becomes more and more like him and his board of directors who make inappropriate jokes and indulge in chauvinistic activities. In her ambitious struggle, Candy loses her friends, family and even her own self. She becomes more and more like those cold-blooded corporates.
But sadly, Candy, who was so sure of victory, does not get the position. Devin, her intern, was named Santa's successor by Santa.
Crestfallen, she then decides to start a revolution and right all the wrongs that were going on behind closed doors in Santa's factory.
The show ends with Candy and Santa reaching some sort of a deal whereby Santa promises to deliver basic privileges to his employees and Candy, in turn, promises to remain silent about Santa's corruption.
Why is it not the usual holiday watch?
Santa Inc. is a corporate satire. It attempts to out the corrupt world of capitalism in the garb of the fantastical Santa's factory which churns out Christmas delights.
Santa Inc. has traditionally been an all-boys club that puts down women closing in on a glass ceiling. The constant underestimation of Candy as well as the inside jokes and activities they exclude her from are actually a direct indication of misogyny that runs deep in the capitalist world that goes to great lengths to exclude women.
The series focuses on Candy's struggle to climb up the ladder of hierarchy and what this does to her character, and what the ultimate result of it is.
What is brilliant about Santa Inc. is the character developments. There is no binary of good and bad in the series. All characters have been rounded off to make them more human, with both positive and negative attributes.