One of the things I look forward to during the holiday season is watching all the holiday specials of my favorite shows. Being the huge nerd that I am, this should be no surprise. It’s not even that they’re all good. It’s more that it’s part of the holidays for me. I watch almost nothing but holiday specials from December first to the twenty-fifth. Well, this year I’m also watching The Mandalorian and His Dark Materials. But we’ll talk more about those later.
I thought it would be fun today to share my favorite specials with you. These are listed from worst to best. Most of them you’ve probably already heard of. But maybe you haven’t. Or maybe you forgot all about them and now you remember you can’t wait to see them. Maybe you just want to read the list then tell me how horribly wrong my taste is. That’s fine. I would love for you to leave a comment below telling me your favorite holiday special from any winter holiday.
A very special family guy freakin’ Christmas
Family Guy was really good for the first three seasons. And this Christmas episode in particular is just perfect. It embodies the worst and best of Christmas.
Lois is the sort of person who makes Christmas happen for her family. But when one mishap after another ruins all of her hard work she snaps. She ends up climbing the Quohog Christmas tree, hell-bent on destroying the star on top.
I like this episode because it throws the old fashioned Christmas special on its ear. While we’d all like to soar through the holidays making cookies and special family memories, I think losing our shit after one too many fuck ups is way more relatable.
Bob’s Burgers is a show that’s worked its way into my holiday viewing. Especially their Thanksgiving episodes. There just aren’t a lot of good Thanksgiving specials.
While there are a lot of Christmas episodes, my favorite is The Bleakening. Linda loses it a little when someone steals her Christmas tree from the restaurant. This action leads the kids to think that a Krampus like creature called The Bleaken is coming to steal all their gifts. So they go out at night to hunt the creature down.
A Very Sunny Christmas
It’s Always Sunny is an acquired taste and not for the easily offended. And this Christmas episode was especially awful. Frank ruins Christmas for his children every year by buying the thing they’d like most for himself. This is the year he goes too far. Dee and Dennis decide it’s time to teach him a lesson. As I’m sure you can imagine, nothing goes to plan and everything is a horrifying hot mess. It’s also one of the funniest damned things I’ve ever seen.
I want a dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
This isn’t the best known Charlie Brown special, which might be why I like it so much. Rerun wants a dog, but his mom doesn’t want him to have one. He borrows Snoopy, but it’s not the same. When Snoopy’s brother Spike comes into town Rerun gets his mom to let him stay until he’s in better health.
In true Charlie Brown fashion, Spike doesn’t stay. He goes home to live with Joe Cactus and Rerun never does get his dog. But that’s sort of why I love Charlie Brown. The kids don’t usually get what they want, at least not the way they want them. But Rerun still has Snoopy to borrow. If that’s not an allegory for life, I don’t know what is.
I never learned about Hanuka as a child, so this is where I first learned about the celebration of lights. It’s a good explanation for kids and grownups who didn’t grow up in super-diverse neighborhoods.
The kids are taken to a Hanuka play at temple with Grandpa Boris. He ends up in an on-stage spat with an old rival, and the kids are read a story about the meaning of Hanuka while trying to get the ‘Meanie’ to fall asleep.
As always, I love seeing the hilarious misunderstandings that the kids fall into. I also love the way the show explained why this beautiful holiday is celebrated.
Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
This is maybe the best episode of Community ever. The whole thing’s in stop motion, and it centers around Abed having sort of a mental break down. He drags everyone along for a journey to find the meaning of Christmas.
This episode is especially fun when you consider that all of the magical stuff is happening in Abed’s mind. Everyone else is sitting in the study room, just talking. I love it.
Futurama, X-mas story
There’s a line from this my husband and I quote to each other at any opportunity. “I’m gonna get you so many lizards.”
In the future, X-mas is celebrated with palm trees because pine trees have gone extinct. Oh, and Santa is a homicidal robot why deems everyone naughty and slaughters people every X-mas Eve. Fry and Lela are caught out late and have to run for their lives.
X-Files, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas
I do love a good ghost story, especially for Christmas. Mulder and Scully find themselves trapped in a house that’s messing with their heads. Rooms move from place to place. They’re tortured by visions of each other dying. They see the spirits who live there but are not able to put them to rest. Though, in fairness, the couple seems quite content to spend eternity together. And who wouldn’t? They’ve got each other and some living people to torture on Christmas Eve. They’re set.
The ambiance of this episode is just amazing. Warm fires, old books, dead bodies. It’s just like A Christmas Carol.
Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire
Finally, my favorite holiday special. Homer’s crushed when he doesn’t get his Christmas bonus. Things get even worse when Marge has to spend all their Christmas savings to remove a tattoo from Bart. He tries to get a second job as a mall Santa to try to get gifts. When that too falls through, his last hope is betting on a dog race.
This episode is heartwarming and never fails to make me laugh. It’s a fluffy blanket and a cup of eggnog. It just feels like Christmas when I see little Maggie dressed up in her star-shaped snowsuit. It’s not unusual for me to watch it a couple of times.
So that’s it. Those are my can’t miss holiday specials. Now I want to hear what you think? What’s your favorite holiday special? Let us know in the comments below.