The holiday season is great for watching cheesy holiday movies, but there’s another beloved pop-culture tradition I love at this time of year: re-watching holiday episodes of some of my favorite television shows!
I’ve rounded up a list of a few of these shows, all of which can be streamed on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. I hope you enjoy my list and take time to enjoy some of these episodes yourself during the month of December!
Happy Endings: “Grinches Be Crazy”
I’ve documented my love of this show before, and this is my favorite of its Christmas episodes! Max dresses up as Santa! Brad and Jane accidentally give their vacation money away! And Dave cashes in on all of Alex’s old empty gesture gifts of coupons for all kinds of weird favors! Hijinks ensue!
Just like the best Happy Endings episodes, this one is unbelievably quotable with rapid-fire jokes and silly gags.
Comedian and culture critic Guy Branum has described how much this episode means a lot to him, with lovely explanations like the Menorah is “like a nightlight for our people.” I’m not Jewish, but as a child of the 90’s I can say with certainty that this animated kids comedy made a gigantic difference in explaining and celebrating Chanukah with younger audiences! This is one nostalgic piece of media that manages to hold up over the years.
The Office: “Christmas Party”
Ah, yes! The Office’s first Christmas party episode! This is the office party that includes Michael buying an iPod to lavish attention on Ryan–thereby ruining the spirit of the holiday exchange and creating a White Elephant/Yankee Swap/Nasty Christmas for the ages. But we do get the sweet little moment of Jim preparing a teapot for Pam that’s full of nostalgic inside jokes and goodies!
Schitt’s Creek: “Merry Christmas Johnny Rose”
This episode, which aired between seasons, shows Johnny Rose trying to retain the spirit and excitement of Rose Christmas Parties in days gone by. However, Johnny realizes that it’s not about the size of the party–the joy of the season comes from surrounding yourself with those you love. A Christmas soiree in a motel room ends up meaning so much more than a glitzy gathering at a mansion.
Bob’s Burgers: “Bob Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins”
Let’s be honest: ALL Bob’s Burgers episodes are a bit weird. This one is no different, with the family taking in a man who was living in a storage unit and believes he was once a mannequin! Furthermore, he is longing for his wife–a mannequin with two left hands–and wishes to be reunited with her for Christmas! This episode showcases the spirit of giving in the only way the Belcher family can: with songs and silliness and a surprising dose of sincerity.
30 Rock: “Ludachristmas”
30 Rock’s Christmas episodes are often cynical, but I find myself returning to this one again and again. It highlights the tension of the holiday season across different kinds of families with Jack and his mother and Liz and her visiting family members. Plus, there’s a silly subplot about how the folks in the writers room take their junky corporate Photo Scanner/Paper Shredder gift for granted.
The O.C.: “The Best Chrismukkuh Ever”
Honesty time: I haven’t revisited this episode as frequently as some others on this list. However, it absolutely belongs in the holiday episode hall of fame! This episode of the O.C. introduced teens of the early aughts to a blended Hanukkah/Christmas holiday. It’s eight days of presents followed by one day of many presents! What’s not to love?!
Also, we cannot forget: The O.C. released Chrismukkuh albums back in the day that would absolutely make Seth Cohen proud!
Community: “Regional Holiday Music”
If you’re a Community fan, it may come as a shock that I picked this episode over the more traditionally adored “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.” Both are superb examples of what Community was capable of pulling off, but this one is packed with more laughs in my humble opinion. In this Christmas episode, the entire study group succumbs one by one to the pull of “Glee”–so there are tons of holiday parody songs and digs at the then-popular Ryan Murphy show!
Frasier: “Perspectives on Christmas”
“Perspectives on Christmas” is a typical Frasier farce–the title refers to the events of the week before Christmas as told and re-told by the main characters of the sitcom. Each character’s new perspective shades our understanding of the stories that precede it, so the episode culminates in ridiculous, stressful conflict for our favorite 90’s-era Seattle residents.
Nailed It Holiday: “3…2…1…Ya Done!”
Truly, the entire Nailed It Holiday season is (to paraphrase Nicole Byer) a dream and a treat. But this episode is my personal favorite for a couple of reasons. First: it breaks up the usual Christmas episodes with a brief New Year’s Eve celebration. Second (and most importantly): the guest judge is the hilarious Jason Mantzoukas. You can tell that his presence is welcome because EVERYONE seems to be having fun shooting the episode–including a bunch of chuckling camera operators!
I’ve rounded up some of my personal favorites–what are YOURS? Let us know!
Here’s hoping your holiday is merry, bright and full of superb television episodes!