Deck the Green: Top 8 holiday TV episodes

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl

courtesy Nickelodeontv - Rugrats (Channukah episode)










As a self-proclaimed television expert, I have come to the conclusion that holiday episodes of television shows are typically above average.

What is it about the man in the big red suit, the family reunions, and the presents that make the writing of the holiday episodes that much better, and not to mention funnier?

I think it is safe to say that every TV show has a Christmas and/or Hanukkah episode at least once throughout its run. And why shouldn’t they? Christmas/Hanukkah episodes can call for hilarious story lines that might not be able to be pulled off at another time. Only on the holidays, I say.

In honor of Hanukkah, I have chosen eight of my favorite holiday episodes for all to enjoy. Hope you all had a great Chrismukkah this year! (There’s The O.C. reference some of you may have wanted, but I don’t follow The O.C. so it’s not on the list. Sorry.)

8. Spongebob Squarepants: “Christmas Who?”
How can you not love a story about discovering Christmas? Or an episode parodying one of the best Christmas stories ever: The Grinch? Sandy introduces Christmas to Spongebob, who in turns tells everyone in Bikini Bottom. When Santa doesn’t arrive to fulfill their wishes, Squidward uncharacteristically steps in and dresses up as Santa and brings Christmas to Bikini Bottom. And, of course, let’s not forget that insane live-action Santa shown in the last scene; I only pray Santa gets himself some medication for Christmas.

7. Seinfeld: “The Strike”
Now, I have never watched an episode of Seinfeld in my life, but I am a TV expert so I knew I had to include this episode; I mean it is the birth of Festivus. While I cannot stomach forgoing the commercial aspect of Christmas, “a Festivus for the rest of us” sounds awesome. If I can’t celebrate Christmas then I will celebrate Festivus. Putting up an aluminum pole and participating in the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength” seem cool, but I can’t imagine them replacing my favorite Christmas traditions (that I don’t celebrate but admire). And yet, Festivus took the world by storm and remains a cult classic favorite. It’s a Festivus miracle!

6. 30 Rock: “Ludachristmas”
30 Rock has had a few hilarious Christmas episodes, but for me, nothing beats its first. Jack’s mother, Colleen, not only harasses Jack — probably the only person who can really do that — but also torments the Lemon family. Comedic gold ensues. Let’s not forget to mention how Kenneth is probably the only one who can turn a “true meaning of Christmas” storyline into something quite refreshing and, of course, hilarious.

5. Community: “Regional Holiday Music”
One of my favorite sitcoms making fun of another one of my favorite shows calls for a hilarious half hour of gleeful comedy. One by one, the study group falls victim to Mr. Rad’s persuasion to perform in the Christmas pageant and then Regionals and then hopefully be in glee club forever “because that’s who we are.” As a Glee fan, this episode is the perfect parody, depicting everything that is wrong with the show while highlighting what is so right about Community.

4. The Big Bang Theory: “Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”
To me, there is nothing better than The Big Bang Theory. Extraordinary smart, witty humor is all this girl wants for Christmas, and Sheldon Cooper knows how to deliver. When Penny gives Sheldon and Leonard gifts for Christmas, Sheldon is set on finding a present that would have equal value to whatever she gave him. However, when she gives him a napkin that Leonard Nimoy used, Sheldon is hilariously overjoyed and essentially gives her the entire Bath & Body Works store. But that is not enough, so he hugs her, which is a big deal if you know Sheldon. All I want for Christmas is a clone of Leonard Nimoy: Is that so much to ask?

3. Simpsons: “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”
The episode that started it all: How can it not be on this list? The Simpsons is the longest running series, and I think it is because they started out with a Christmas episode – genius! While some of the voices we’ve come to all know and love sound quite different, the comedy is fresh and biting as usual. The Simpsons don’t have any money for presents this year, so Homer takes a job as a shopping mall Santa, which of course fails. Then he optimistically bets at the dog track on Santa’s Little Helper, who loses, but ends up coming home with Bart and Homer to become a part of the beloved family. This honestly has to be one of the best pilot episodes I have ever seen. Jokes about Marge’s hair, the evil of Mr. Burns, Bart’s hijinks and Homer’s never-ending onslaught of issues are all there from the start; no wonder this show has been around for over 20 years.

2. Friends: “The One With the Holiday Armadillo”
Though it may seem hard to believe, Hanukkah isn’t always everyone’s favorite holiday in December, and Ross isn’t too happy about it. His son, Ben, only wants to see Santa and doesn’t care about Hanukkah, so Ross dons a costume to become the “Holiday Armadillo,” Santa’s half Jewish friend. Oh, the intonation! Friends holiday episodes are always spectacular, but I may just be biased towards this one because of the Hanukkah vs.Christmas atmosphere — a struggle I have been afflicted with my entire life.

1. Rugrats: “Chanukkah”
Need I say more? Growing up as a Jewish child, I remember being dismayed when I watched TV and only saw Christmas being represented; thus, having one of my favorite shows create this absolutely perfect Hanukkah-themed episode filled my heart with joy. What better a way to learn the story of Hanukkah than by having Grandma Minka read the story of the Maccabees – I mean Macca-babies? And I think it’s safe to say that Stu’s giant menorah is one of his greatest inventions. Beware the “Meanie of Hanukkah!”

Have a favorite holiday episode of your own? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl.


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