A Guide to Some of TV’s Greatest Christmas Sitcom Episodes

Many of us return every year to the beloved holiday specials – your Rudolphs, your Charlie Browns – but the Christmas episode is a tradition too.

Most sitcoms do them; in the days leading up to the airing, they aired in the weeks leading up to The Big Show.

Hitting a Christmas episode on reruns in July or on an off-season series is a bit like eating a candy cane in April, but it’s no accident that many holiday episodes end up being classic and well-cited episodes. The holidays, with their pressures, loved ones, and parties, are loaded with comedic potential, of course, but they’re also a chance for a sitcom to show its heart.

Thanks to streaming, you can watch just about anything, anytime, so we’ve put together a little seasonal episode advent calendar to get you in mind.

It’s a real mixtape of old and new sitcoms that you’ve probably seen – although we can’t be held responsible for spoilers if you haven’t – all put together in one handy guide to gorging on cookies. and eggnog.

Bob’s Burgers: “Bob’s father”

Season 5, Episode 6

Broadcast on: Disney +

This animated sitcom about the Belcher family selling burgers does all the holiday episodes very, very well, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. But “Bob’s Father” is a great origin story about Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) and his complicated relationship with his father, Big Bob (Bill Hader), who also runs a restaurant. Nothing opens up old family wounds like the holidays, but this story has a truly touching resolution.

Community: “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”

Season 2, Episode 11

Streaming on: Netflix

In a loving nod to all the classic stop-motion vacation specials that came before it, this episode is, you guessed it, stop-motion animation. The Greendale Community College gang take a magical Christmas journey to reconnect with the spirit of the season after pop culture-obsessed Abed (Danny Pudi) hallucinates (or does he?) That he and the rest of the study group are claymation figures – sorry, “silicone dolls with foam bodies on ball and socket frames.”

Newly landed: “The real Santa Claus”

Season 2, Episode 10

Available to rent: AppleTV, YouTube, and Google Play (trust us, it’s worth it)

Loosely based on Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name, this sitcom about a 1990s Chinese family in Orlando features one of modern TV’s best moms, and that’s the inimitable Jessica Huang (Constance Wu) – a mother tiger with a heart of gold. In this episode, she decides that Santa has some room for improvement – “look how long it took him to promote Rudolph; he’s clearly not good at spotting talent ”- so she“ fixes ”it for her youngest son, Evan, telling him Santa Claus is a scientist who’s been to Princeton and spends two hours each night talking to his mother. The real gift in this episode, however, is the invention of Lao Ban Santa.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: “Christmas Show”

Season 2, Episode 13

Streaming on: Crave

Will (Will Smith) and the Banks family head to a Utah ski resort for a Christmas family reunion, and things take a turn for the worse when the “kids” – Will Smith was certainly 23 – open the door to a stranger. Aunt Viv’s sisters (Janet Hubert, the original) are the MVPs of this heartwarming episode, which is as full of bursting laughing linings as it is neon ’90s sweaters. Fun fact: it’s the first time we’ve seen it. the Carlton Dance.

Friends: “The one with Poughkeepsie’s daughter”

Season 4, Episode 10

Streaming on: Crave

Frankly, Friends traditionally does the Thanksgiving episode better than the Christmas episode, but there are also a few holiday bangers in the mix. Christmas is mostly buzzing in the background as Chef Monica (Courteney Cox) is bullied in her new kitchen, so she hires Joey (Matt LeBlanc) only to fire him, and Ross is dating a girl from Poughkeepsie. So why did we include this one? Three words: Phoebe’s Christmas song.

The Mindy project: “Christmas”

Season 3, Episode 11

Steamed up on: Prime Video

Our deliciously delusional mad boy antihero Dr Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) thinks her boyfriend, the handsome but insufferable Dr Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), is going to offer over the holidays – but the gift he ends giving her is so much better than a ring. Kaling’s famous love for romantic comedies shines through in this episode, which has a bit of everything: a false identity, New York at Christmas and, of course, Wreath Witherspoon.

<p>Fox</p><p>Dr. Mindy Lahiri (series creator and star Mindy Kaling) is a hopeless romantic.</p>


Dr Mindy Lahiri (series creator and star Mindy Kaling) is a hopeless romantic.

The Office: “A Benihana Christmas”

Season 3, Episode 10

Streaming on: Netflix

In this full-size episode, Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Angela (Angela Kinsey) plan Christmas parties at Dunder Mifflin’s office, while Michael Scott (Steve Carell) heals a breakup by playing the first 30 seconds of James Blunt. Goodbye my lover over and over again and taking the men from the office to a very messy lunch in Benihana. Come for the awkward office party politics, stay for the sweetness of Pam and Jim (John Krasinski).

Schitt’s Creek: “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose”

Season 4, Episode 13

Streaming on: Netflix

Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy), patriarch of the hapless Rose family, wants to throw a Christmas party like the ones he’s known – like when he was rich and didn’t live in a motel in Schitt’s Creek – but it just doesn’t go down. not like he thought. As the title suggests, this episode charmer, written by Daniel Levy (who plays Johnny’s son David Rose), is a delightful nod to Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown and features a stellar CanCon cameo.

Seinfeld: “The strike”

Season 9, Episode 10

Streaming on: Netflix

The episode that gave us Festivus is such a classic that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was from an earlier season. In response to the marketing of Christmas, Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller, in a series-best performance), father of George Costanza (Jason Alexander), created his own alternative holiday, which includes traditions such as the Festivus Pole and “the the grievance show. ”Fun Fact: Festivus was originally created by writer Daniel O’Keefe, and this episode was co-written by his son, TV screenwriter Dan O’Keefe.

The Simpsons: “The Simpsons Roasting Over An Open Fire”

Season 1, Episode 1

Broadcast on: Disney +

On December 17, 1989, Matt Groening’s groundbreaking animated sitcom premiered with a Christmas special. It’s a smart move, in fact: the holidays are the perfect backdrop for a quick introduction to the dynamics of the Simpson family, as well as those of many Springfield residents, in a surprisingly economical run time. When Homer doesn’t get his Christmas bonus and Marge has to spend the savings she’s accumulated on tattoo removal for Bart, Homer takes his meager earnings from a Santa Claus side activity at the dog track, and bet it all. on a certain greyhound with a seasonal name.

Ted Lasso: “The song of the bells”

Season 2, Episode 4

Stream on: Apple TV +

It might be a risk for a streaming show – even a wellness show like Ted Lasso – to do a full Christmas episode in mid-August. But the risk has paid off: “Carol of the Bells” is an instant classic.

The show is about Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), an American football coach out of the water who now runs a British football team (the other guy), so it makes sense that the holiday episode deals with the themes of service to others as a balm against loneliness and the importance of the families we choose for ourselves. There is even a cute Love in fact reference that will not make you cringe.

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Twitter: @JenZoratti

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Jen zoratti

Karl M. Bailey