Oh right, I have a blog! Maybe I should stop sucking at it. No lame excuses, I’m just going to list my favourite Christmas episodes from some of my fave TV shows instead.
I’m not really, like, a Christmas Person, so sappy, sentimental, emotional episodes about the importance of family or the spirit of giving or whatever don’t really do it for me. I mean, I get that most Christmas episodes have some heart to them, but the show has to somehow subvert the typical schmaltz for me to really appreciate it. Here’s my list.
5. Seinfeld – The Strike. In this episode, George’s friends find out about his father’s made up holiday, Festivus, which the Costanzas celebrated during George’s childhood thanks to Frank Costanza’s hatred of the commercialism of the holiday. I can kind of relate to this, because my dad has always had a Scrooge-like attitude toward Christmas, and he demonstrated it by acting out in weird ways – like the year he gave me and my sister a wrapped box of Hamburger Helper for no reason. ALSO, while he got all grouchy about putting up Christmas lights, he insisted on celebrated Groundhog Day every year, by putting up pictures of groundhogs and eating KFC, the traditional food of Groundhog Day (duh).
Essentially Frank is a crazier version of my father. So as we learn during the episode, Festivus eschews the traditional tree in favour of a Festivus Pole, and you can tell your family members how they disappointed you during the Airing of Grievances. Kramer immediately gets into the spirit of the non-existent holiday, and it ends with George being attacked by his father during the traditional Feats of Strength. I probably don’t have to tell you this is a great episode; there aren’t many fake holidays that have become an incredibly famous pop culture reference, after all.
4. American Dad – For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls. It’s weird how, as Family Guy has gotten lazier and less funny over the years, American Dad has stayed consistently hilarious. It always goes into really bizarre, over-the-top territory, and its Christmas episodes are especially ridiculous. They’ve all been great, but this one, where the Smith family inadvertently ends up killing Santa Claus, is my personal favourite. Santa doesn’t stay dead (you know, because he’s Santa) and he ends up leading a battle against the Smiths with weapon-wielding elves, reindeer and some kind of horrifying snowman monster on his side.
There’s also a whole weird subplot where Roger befriends a bootlegger, learns the art of bootlegging himself, and then the bootlegger helps fight Santa’s army. Oh, and by the end, Stan accepts Haley’s husband Jeff into the family…but only after he proves himself by viciously attacking Santa. So you know, there is some nice family junk, but mostly it’s just typically weird American Dad, and it’s awesome.
3. Misfits – Christmas Special. What’s more perverse than killing Santa? Killing Jesus, of course. Yep, Misfits, which is kind of the British anti-Heroes, totally goes there in their Christmas special at the end of the second season. OK, it’s not ACTUALLY Jesus. The gang finishes their community service, and they quickly realize they don’t have a lot of real world skills (mystical stom-induced super powers don’t count) and they’re totally broke. They end up selling their powers for cash, but at the same time, a disenchanted priest buys a whole bunch of powers to convince people he’s the second coming of Christ. Mostly he uses his new abilities to steal money and force girls to sleep with him, so killing him kind of makes sense.
The gang also realizes that selling their powers was a bad idea, and they end up getting new ones, just in time for a bit of a season three retooling. The episode ALSO features the grossest television birth I’ve ever seen, courtesy of Nathan’s new, incredibly crude girlfriend. Normally I would hate this, but Misfits managed to make me laugh about placenta. It’s a Christmas miracle!
2. Community – Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas. This is just a great episode of a great show. Obviously Community isn’t afraid to get weird with its structure and format, and in this episode it goes full-on claymation when Abed has a break with reality. In an attempt to figure out what happened and help revert Abed’s world back to normal, everyone goes on a magical Christmas adventure…through Abed’s subconscious.
It works amazingly well as a stand-alone episode, incorporating traditional claymation moments, from periodic songs to especially delicious looking food. But it also incorporates the individual personalities of each member of the study group, while delving deeper into some of Abed’s family life, and the things that make him the lovable pop culture obsessed weirdo he is. It’s a great showcase of all the things Community does best.
1. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – A Very Sunny Christmas. It’s always Sunny is completely deranged at the best of times, but their Christmas episode really escalated things to the next level. It turns out Dennis and Dee hate Christmas, because Frank ruined their childhood by buying them amazing gifts and then keeping them for himself. When he buys the car Dennis has always wanted and the designer purse of Dee’s dreams, the Reynolds twins decide to plot revenge in the form of A Christmas Carol, using Frank’s old business partner to revisit Frank’s past, present and future. This leads to my absolute favourite moment on the show – Dennis and Dee want Frank to hear people at his old company saying bad things about him, so he hides in a couch…and jumps out of it, dripping sweat and completely naked in the middle of the company Christmas party. Maybe it’s just me, but I literally can’t think of anything funnier than a naked, sweaty Danny Devito.
In the meantime, Mac and Charlie try to get into the Christmas spirit my reminiscing about their family traditions. Except once they start talking about them, Mac realizes his family stole presents from their neighbours, and Charlie comes to the horrifying realization that his mother was a prostitute who slept with dudes dressed like Santa. He seems to be OK with this revelation, until he goes to the mall, sees Santa and snaps. Charlie attacks, and it’s pretty brutal. As in, it ends with Santa’s blood dripping from Charlie’s mouth. Awkward!
On the bright side, Frank does decide to change his ways after a concussion-induced claymation hallucination in which he’s eviscerated by his friends. Unfortunately, his business partner steals the gifts he gets everyone. The gang sort of gets a happy ending by bringing back Mac and Charlie’s favourite Christmas tradition: throwing rocks at cars. It’s completely perverse, but kind of sweet for It’s Always Sunny, really. I mean, they learn a valuable lesson and spend bonding time together. The gang doesn’t get much nicer than that.
So, are there any other ridiculous, wacky, funny or possibly disgusting Christmas episodes I’m missing? Suggestions are welcome. I’m not really into Christmas movies that aren’t It’s a Wonderful Life, Bad Santa or Love Actually, so clearly I need to watch TV to get into the spirit.