Love Hard is a Netflix Christmas romantic comedy about a single woman Natalie (Nina Dobrev), a writer and pens down her disastrous dating life. After meeting her seemingly perfect match — Josh, on a dating app, she flies 3,000 miles from LA to Lake Placid to surprise him for Christmas. That’s when she finds out that’s she has been catfished Josh is not quite who he said he was.
Natalie, a writer from LA, is tired of going on disastrous dates but her boss Lee encourages her to go on more of these disastrous dates as they make great content for the website she’s working for. Her best friend widens her dating app’s search radius to include the whole country, which leads her to match with Josh, a handsome man who loves the outdoors. They talk for two weeks and really connect and get to know each other.
On a whim, Natalie decides to fly 3000 miles and surprise Josh for Christmas. Josh’s family meets her and are really warm and welcoming and are happy that Josh finally has a girlfriend. But Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) doesn’t remotely look like the pictures he sent her.
He used the pictures of his former best friend, Tag (Darren Barnet), as his original photos, which resulted in him not getting any matches. Natalie is outraged and leaves. In a bar, she sees Tag and is immediately infatuated.
She calls her best friend and tells her about the situation. She encourages Natalie to get his attention somehow. Natalie needs liquid courage and takes two shots. But they have kiwi in them, which Natalie is allergic to. She climbs up on the stage to do karaoke to make Tag notice her but has an allergic reaction. Her face becomes all puffy and she faints.
Josh arrives at the same bar and takes Natalie to the hospital. Upon waking up, she yells at him and is upset about being catfished. Josh apologises and promises to set her up with Tag if she pretends to be his girlfriend till Christmas day for his family’s sake. Natalie begrudgingly agrees.
Josh tells her various tips and tricks to make Tag like her. He even makes her practice rock climbing beforehand so she can do it with Tag later. They bond during this process. Josh does his best to set Tag and Natalie up, but the more Natalie hangs out with Tag the more she realises how they are very different people.
All this while she keeps pretending to be Josh’s girlfriend and connects with his family that welcomes her with open arms. Josh’s attention-seeking, ‘golden boy’ brother Owen visits them for Christmas and tries to show up Josh all the time. Natalie stands up for Josh and tells him that if Owen tries to steal the attention, Josh should steal it back. He follows her advice, this causes him to be more open and outgoing. He and Natalie even sing a Christmas duet.
But stuff gets out of hand when Owen and his girlfriend announce they are pregnant. To upstage them, Josh, without thinking, proposes to Natalie in front of his whole family. Natalie is peer pressured to say yes. Later, Natalie is upset because this would ruin her chances with Tag. Josh promises this wouldn’t happen. Will Natalie get her happily ever after?
Love Hard ending explained in detail:
The fake engagement
Natalie says yes to Josh’s proposal, which results in the engagement announcement getting published in the local newspaper. Josh and Natalie wake up at dawn and steal all the newspapers so no one finds out. They have a heart to heart as they take a look at Josh’s real dating profile. Natalie tells him to put his best foot forward and not play superficial games. He even tells her about his passion which is to make candles for men.
That is a business he’s always wanted to do but didn’t have the courage to ask his dad for a loan that he needed. They grow very close during the time.
Natalie went on a date with Tag whilst being fake engaged to Josh. Josh’s brother Owen sees them on a date and is suspicious. Josh and Natalie get into an argument because Natalie is losing herself and her values in her pursuit of Tag. Stuff gets even more complicated when Josh’s parents throw them a surprise engagement party to which even Tag is invited!
What happens to Tag?
At the surprise engagement party, Josh’s dad gives a speech congratulating Josh and his bride to be. Even her boss Lee shows up and Owen confronts her asks her to stop this charade. Tag still hasn’t put two and two together. Before Josh’s father can finish his speech, Natalie runs up to him and interrupts him and gives a speech of her own. But she figured she had enough of the lies and tells the truth.
She tells everyone how Josh catfished her and she agreed to pretend to be his girlfriend in front of his family and, in exchange, he would introduce her to Tag. She says love doesn’t need to be perfect but honest.
She pretended that she liked rock climbing, Thoreau and bobsledding just because Tag liked them. Tag points how first Josh and then she, Natalie, pretended to be someone they’re not. He gets righteously indignant and leaves in a huff.
Natalie lights Josh’s candles and leaves him a note saying he shouldn’t hide his passions. Josh’s dad is really impressed with them and agrees to give him the loan. Natalie writes about her chaotic experience on her blog describing the incident in detail, expressing how both types of her fans — the ones who like disaster dates and ones who like a cute romantic story would enjoy reading about this experience.
Lee asks her why she stuck around for so long. She replies that she didn’t want to get fired. Lee jokes and says he fires her four times every week and she keeps coming back. Lee further states that given her history, Natalie runs at the first sight of imperfection. Yet, she chose to stay despite Josh’s imperfections.
Natalie realises she had been so focused on other people’s imperfections and dishonesties that she forgot to focus on her own flaws.
Her dating app shows her a new alert and she sees Josh’s real profile showing himself as he truly is. Natalie shows up at his door and professes her love for him by messages written on cardboard, like in the movie ‘Love Actually’. They kiss in the snow and she celebrates Christmas with him and gets her happy ending.