My Top 15 Winter Holiday TV episodes

By Laura Crisp Davis - December 9, 2021
My Top 15 Winter Holiday TV episodes

Happy Happy and Merry Merry to one and all! Here's my "must see" list for capturing the special mix of silliness, social commentary, and sap that is December TV.

15. My So-Called Life, "So-Called Angels" (drama 1994, S1 E15)

why I love it: This show depicted high school in the 90s, and mostly focused on angsty Angela (Claire Danes) and her crush on Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) but it was ahead of its time when it came to LGBTQ content. It cast the first openly gay actor (Wilson Cruz), who played Angela's gay friend, Ricky. I've always suspected that this episode is what got the show cancelled, because many American viewers weren't ready for this level of truth. It was almost three years BEFORE Ellen came out on her sitcom, and we all know how well that was received. Anyway, this episode also makes me want to be a better human, which is the "spirit of the holidays," no?

14. Golden Girls, "Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas" (comedy/drama, 1990 S5 E12)

why I love it: It's a more serious episode than most of the series when the ladies volunteer at a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve...but don't worry there are still a few laughs. You can count on Dorothy to insult Blanche, Rose, and her ex-husband Stan, and for her mother Sophia to get the last, hilarious word every time.

13. Friends, "The One with the Holiday Armadillo" (comedy, 2001 S7 E10)

why I love it: If you haven't seen this, I have no idea where you've been living for the last 20 years. It pokes fun at co-parenting while divorced and celebrating two different holidays. Ross wants his son to love Hanukkah as much as Christmas, which pushes him to take desperate, hilarious measures.

12. American Housewife, "Blue Christmas" (comedy, 2017 S2 E10)

why I love it: I love Katie (Katy Mixon) because she moved to uppety Westport around the time I moved to the uppety west suburbs of Chicago and we both struggle(d) with a lot of the same issues. In this super funny episode, she has to leave her kids with her husband on Christmas because her friend goes into labor. I was in tears when the hangry kids were threatening him through the office door. 

11. Go On, "The World Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" (comedy, 2012 S1 E11)

why I love it: One of the funniest, darkest sitcoms I've ever watched. Matthew Perry plays a recently widowed sportscaster forced to attend a grief support group to keep his anger in check and hold onto his job. I was so, so disappointed when the show was cancelled because I laughed to tears at this oddball cast. I guess America just wasn't ready to laugh at grief. Anyway, the grief support group has a holiday/end-of-the-world party and it is utterly hilarious and twisted.

10. The Office (U.S.), "A Benihana Christmas, Parts 1 & 2" (comedy, 2006 S3 E10)

why I love it: Uptight Angela kicks Karen off the party planning committee, so Karen and Pam create a second Christmas party. Meanwhile Michael takes Dwight, Jim, and Andy to Benihana for an awkward lunch. It's everything we loved about this hysterical mock-u-series.

9. The Goldbergs, "A Christmas Story" (comedy, 2015 S3 E10)

why I love it: Two words: Super Hanukkah. That's all you need to know.

8. Modern Family, "Undeck the Halls" (comedy, 2010 S1 E10)

why I love it: The first of many hilarious holiday episodes on this great show. Rewatching, OMG the kids are so little and so, so funny.

7. The Michael J. Fox Show, "Christmas" (comedy, 2013 S1 E11)

why I love it: This sitcom was brilliantly written and cast. It showcased Michael's optimism and great sense of humor about living life with Parkinson's. Unfortunately, I think the American public just couldn't let themselves laugh along with him because we like to remember him as he was in Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, and Family Ties. All that aside, this episode was super funny with Mike juggling family and work obligations on Christmas Eve, and his daughter curious about her friend's Hanukkah.

6. Black-ish, "Stuff" (comedy, 2016 S2 E10)

why I love it: Almost every parent has tried to shorten their kids' holiday wish list, but when Dre and Bow try to make the holiday more meaningful it all backfires and cracks me up every time.

5. Seinfeld, "The Strike" (comedy, 1997 S9 E10)

why I love it: George and his father choose to celebrate an alternative holiday, Festivus, which cemented it into pop culture forever. In addition, Elaine mistakenly gives out a fake phone number, and Kramer goes back to work after a bagel strike. You know, it's basically about nothing and it's always funny.

4. Fresh Off the Boat, "The Real Santa" (comedy, 2015 S2 E10)

why I love it: OMG I freaking love this episode. The series is a fun look back at the 90s, but also a unique POV of a Chinese-American family. Over-ambitious mom Jessica wants her kids to connect with her heritage so she "improves" Santa with multiple PhDs from Princeton and dresses up as a special version of Santa.

3. Frasier, "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz" (comedy, 1998 S6 E10)

why I love it: There's so much to love! First, Frasier's new girlfriend asks him to pretend to be Jewish on Christmas Eve to keep the peace with her overbearing mother. But when his brother Niles and father Martin get in on the ruse, things get funnier and funnier. My favorite is when Niles is dressed as Jesus for a holiday show. Hahaha!

2. Frasier, "High Holidays" (comedy, 2003 S11 E11)

why I love it: This is tied for number one to be honest. Niles decides to rebel against their father by getting high with a pot brownie, but their father accidentally eats it first. If I'm ever in need of a laugh, this is my go to, even if it's not December. Martin's food cravings, philosophical moments, and thinking the dog is talking to him...comedy gold. 

1. Mr. Bean, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean" (comedy, 1992 E7)

why I love it: This is number one for three reasons. 1. It's the original "whoops the turkey is stuck on my head" dinner with his tortured girlfriend (before FRIENDS) 2. While shopping he does laugh-out-loud voices for all the figures in a store nativity display, adding animal sounds and a helicopter 3. He directs a Salvation Army band in classic Bean goofball style. Sometimes I just search for the nativity scene to laugh when he gets caught. 

Happy viewing,

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Sometimes I'm serious, sometimes I'm silly. Any scripts referenced are for educational purposes only. (My lawyer made me say that part.)