I’ve covered Christmas songs, movies, and blog posts before. But along with movies like Love Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life, around Christmas I like to watch the Christmas episodes of the shows I like. Many of them are on Netflix (which I’ve recently joined, but that’s the subject of another post), and here are the best ones.
Gilmore Girls, “Forgiveness and Stuff”
This might be my favorite episode of Gilmore Girls. At the beginning, due to a misunderstanding in the previous episode, Emily disinvites Lorelai from the Gilmores’ early Christmas party and things between Lorelai and Rory are tense. Lorelai commiserates with Luke in the diner while Rory goes to the party alone. But when Richard collapses at the party and is hospitalized, Luke has to take Lorelai to the hospital, and what follows is…well, forgiveness and stuff. It’s an episode that displays all of the show’s best qualities, and if you don’t already love Luke, and the idea of Luke and Lorelai as a couple, you will after this episode.
The X-Files, “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”
On Christmas Eve, Mulder and Scully stake out an abandoned house haunted by two sneaky ghosts played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. It strikes a good balance between creepy and funny- although Scully is being uncharacteristically wussy in this episode. (At this point in the show she’d seen all kinds of crazy things, so I don’t know why two fairly harmless ghosts freaked her out so much.) I’ve always wanted to know what Mulder and Scully give each other for presents at the end.
The O.C., “The Best Chrismukkuh Ever” and “The Chrismukk-huh?”
All four seasons of The O.C. had a Chrismukkah episode. The first and last ones are my favorites. (The second one was all right and I disliked the third one.) “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” is about Ryan’s first Christmas/Hanukkah with the Cohens. In the episode, Seth is trying to decide whether to date Summer or Anna, Kirsten and Sandy are dealing with drama relating to Kirsten’s father’s business, and Marissa, dealing poorly with her parents’ divorce, shoplifts and drinks too much, making Ryan’s life miserable in the process. One of the nicest moments is towards the end, when Sandy tells Ryan that he doesn’t have to be the parent with Marissa.
In “The Chrismukk-huh?” Marissa is mercifully dead and not around to be annoying. Her presence still lingers, though, when a letter she sent just before her death finally reaches Ryan. With the unopened letter in mind, he has an argument with Taylor, with whom he’s on the verge of a relationship, and they both tumble off the roof and end up comatose. (Much like in While You Were Sleeping, no one seems very worried about them—and this time Peter Gallagher is the one waiting for someone to wake up.) In the shared coma dream, there’s an It’s a Wonderful Life-esque world where Ryan never came to Newport. Also, throughout the episode, everyone seems very concerned about the ham they’re going to have for dinner. I feel like it must have been some kind of inside joke or something.
Friends, “The One Where Rachel Quits”
Friends was better with Thanksgiving episodes, but this is an enjoyable Christmas one. Phoebe is horrified when she sees old Christmas trees thrown in the wood cutter and decides she needs to help the trees “fulfill their Christmas destiny.” Meanwhile, Ross accidentally knocks a girl scout (played by Mae Whitman) down the stairs and breaks her leg. He tries selling boxes of Christmas cookies for her in hopes that she’ll win the trip to space camp that she wants.
Seinfeld, “The Strike”
The episode that introduced the world to Festivus. That’s what the episode is most famous for, but George giving people donations in their name to the made-up “Human Fund” (“Money for People”) also cracks me up and is what I think of whenever I hear about donations to charity in someone’s name. Plus the plot about Kramer going back to work because the strike at the bagel place he used to work at has finally ended—the new minimum wage is what they’d demanded twelve years earlier.
Mad Men, “Christmas Waltz”
Although this is a great episode overall, it’s worth watching solely for the lovely scenes between Don and Joan. There’s never been anything romantic between them, and there shouldn’t be, but there’s some very cute flirting going on here as Don takes Joan, who’s upset because her husband beat her to the punch at filing for divorce, out. He’s kinder to Joan than he is to pretty much any other woman ever, and it’s nice to see.