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contributions by: Alan Zilberman, Brandon Wetherbee, Tristan Lejeune, Ross Bonaime, Megan Burns & Svetlana Legetic

Hi everyone! It is that most wonderful time of the year again, and by that we, of course, mean the time of the year we all EAT AND DRINK (just) SO MUCH and WATCH TOO MANY THINGS ON OUR COUCH WHILE EATING AND DRINKING (just) SO MUCH. So, to help you optimize that particular time ahead, we got the (eggnog flavored) creme de la creme of the BYT TV watching team to select some great holiday specials which are (wait for it!) readily streamable on the internets. For WHERE TO WATCH, use this magical tool:




  • Brandon Wetherbee’s Picks

“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!: Tim and Eric Chrimbus Special”
Christmas is a time for family. I didn’t always understand this. You’re not supposed to watch whatever you want, whenever you want. It was not a wise decision to put on “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!: Tim and Eric Chrimbus Special” at someone else’s house during the 2010 holiday season. Just because I enjoy absurd humor and fart noises doesn’t mean people that do not know what Adult Swim is enjoy absurdist humor and holiday sounds. That being said, Tim and Eric, for better or worse, will always mean Christmas to me. Now, let’s all get to work on eating our pound of hair.


Any/All The Office Christmas Specials
Thank god for avowed atheist Ricky Gervais. Without him, we don’t have Steve Carell as Michael, the U.S. version of David Brent. This is getting too confusing. An atheist made perfect Christmas specials for the BBC and due to that show’s popularity we got a U.S. version and 7 more Christmas specials. If God decided not to have baby Jesus, none of this would have happened. So thank you, Jesus Christ and all of Christianity. Along with Ricky Gervais, we have 9 excellent Christmas specials to watch this very holy holiday.


  • Tristan Lejeune’s Picks:
South Park — “Woodland Critter Christmas”

In the climax of this licorice-flavored candy cane of an X-Mas ep, mountain lion cubs remove an unborn antichrist via anal “abortion” before Santa Claus smashes it to bits with a mallet. Joyeux Noël. *drops mic*
You guys, I’m seriously, though. Trey Parker and Matt Stone made a habit out of crafting Christmas specials so hilariously insane, they have to be watched every year to be believed. Santa once got shot down by the Iraqis, remember? But this “hail Satan” fable has a blood orgy, a red star shining down on Christmas Eve, even a major character dying of AIDS — all set to an anapest rhyme scheme. Want to clear the living room of your stodgier relatives? Throw on this bad boy.


The Office (U.S.) — “Classy Christmas”

In the first American Office Christmas special (2005), a White Elephant gift exchange nearly ruined everything, which is exactly what those horrible Yankee Swaps always do. In the last one (2012), Dwight dressed up as the German disciplinarian Belsnickel, who apparently spanks “naughty” white-collar workers with a broom made of sticks.

In the best one, Michael (Steve Carell has never been funnier) tries to woo back Holly with a black-tie, jazz bassist office party that stands in blissful contrast to your own workplace’s holiday gathering — a metaphor for Michael’s divide from reality. Written by Mindy Kaling and directed by Rainn Wilson, this is the U.S. Office at its best: silly, sweet, and cringingly awkward.

At one point, Michael says that, to people from New Hampshire, artificial Christmas trees are like “a burning cross.” Dwight and Jim have the most epic snowball fight ever. I miss December in Scranton…
  • Alan Zilberman’s Picks:
I have a general aversion to holiday episodes because I actively avoid television that indulges in schmaltz. No matter how satirical or biting a holiday episode gets, the one thing that unifies them is a heart-warming conclusion that affirms holiday values (however warped they may be). Instead of celebrating the holidays or family in a general sense, the two best Christmas episodes of The Simpsons have a specific, bittersweet truth about how we relate to our families.

“Marge Be Not Proud” aired roughly when I was the same age as Bart, and it’s about the reconciliation between Bart’s two identities: the little hell-raiser, and Marge’s “special little guy.” Bart starts the episode obsessed with Bonestorm, a violent video game, and he steals it after Marge refuses to buy it for him. The key shift in this episode is Marge’s feeling toward Bart: instead of anger and punishment, which he understands, she confesses deep disappointment in him (there is a heartbreaking moment where she seemingly gives up on her son). They may reconcile by the episode’s conclusion, but as an 11 year-old, this episode felt like a punch in the gut. An angry mother is one who cares, and there’s a point in many children’s life when they simply exhaust their parent’s energy. This is the first growing pain toward adulthood, one that we hardly see expressed so well (granted, I was similarly obsessed with violent video games when the episode aired).
“Holidays of Future Passed” is a relatively recent episode of The Simpsons – it aired in December 2011 – and it’s written more or less for the generation who grew up on the show, but now face their late twenties or early thirties. Like “Lisa’s Wedding,” the episode is a jump forward in time: the Simpsons are adults, while Marge and Homer are well passed middle age. This brutal, hilarious series of holiday photos signal the change in time – it combines the promise of youth with inevitable disappointments of adulthood – and it only grows more poignant from there. There is one scene where adult Bart and Lisa get drunk, and plainly discuss their lives and family. They speak with more sadness than humor, which makes the scene the most realistic, honest portrayals of sibling-dom I’ve seen in a sit-com.
When we’re young, the holidays are about presents, family, and happiness. Once we’re older, the holidays are about family, booze, and resentment. Love and/or history help gloss over the materialism of the earlier years, and the bitterness of the latter years. Only The Simpsons has the courage to give this transition the examination it deserves.
  • Megan Burns’ Picks:
Louie Season 3, Episode 13 – “New Year’s Eve”
This is like, THE DEFINITIVE holiday episode in my opinion, largely because while I DO love the holiday season, I start to get bummed out once Christmas is actually happening…once that moment of IT’S HERE! hits, it’s basically already over, and then it turns into New Year’s Eve, which is my least favorite holiday of all time.
If you haven’t seen this one, it starts out with an exhausted Louie watching his daughters tear open their Christmas presents from “Santa”; flashbacks to the trouble he had to go through obtaining // wrapping // fixing the gifts are interspersed, and if you have ever been a frantic shopper // last-minute gift-wrapper // clumsy motherfucker, then these moments will resonate HARD.
Then the girls’ mom (Louie’s ex) picks them up and depressing lonely times set in, and to try to rescue him from the Swamps of Sadness, Louie’s sister (Amy Poehler) tries to get him to come with her family to Mexico for New Year’s. (He’s not into the idea.) Eventually he DOES end up heading internationally for New Year’s, but it’s not with his family, and it’s not in North America.
Bottom line: WATCH IT.
Trailer Park Boys Season 3, Episode 8: “A Sh*t Leopard Can’t Change Its Spots”
There are obviously lots of holiday spectaculars to choose from re: Trailer Park Boys (the 46-minute-long Christmas Special, in particular), but I really like this one, which is basically Ricky trying to give Trinity (his daughter) a nice Christmas to make up for all the times he spent the holiday in jail. Everything starts out according to plan (you know, as good as a trailer trash Christmas can get, anyway), but as per usual, things quickly spiral out of control, a turkey gets thrown, Ricky goes on a crime spree specifically TO get thrown back in jail, and it is basically the greatest. (A must-watch if you are prone to disastrous Christmas celebrations.)
  • Svetlana’s Picks:

West Wing – “In Excelcis Deo” – West Wing is one way to lose 8 seasons x 22 episodes of your life before you even know it but the Season 1, episode 10 Christmas special is a great way to get a great taste of it in a small dose. And, a special it is. Topics include: Leo’s ongoing drug abuse, hate crimes and Toby (Toby!) and Korean War veteran becoming somehow entangled in ways only holidays can entangle people. All the while President Bartlett is doing some last min holiday shopping. Everything about this episode is WHY we still tolerate Aaron Sorkin: great casting, great chemistry, great topical topics, and then somewhere in the middle of it all, still PLENTY of banter like this:

Donna Moss: I prepared a list.

Josh Lyman: Of Christmas gift suggestions?

Donna Moss: Yes.

Josh Lyman: [reading from the list] Ski pants, ski boots, ski hat, ski goggles, ski gloves, ski poles. I’m assuming you already have skis?


Ally McBeal “Blue Christmas”

Lets face it: Ally McBeal was a pretty obnoxious show. The dancing baby, the constant lack of self esteem whining, the fact that in season 1 Ally was 28 and everyone was acting as if she was an old maid (herself included),  Gil Bellows’ bleach blonde hair, the mysogyny, the anorexia, the … the… the… WHIMSY! But, somehow, around Christmas all that whimsy (all that GODDAMN whimsy) would sort of make sense. Part of it is the music (There IS a Christmas album, by Vonda Shephard, in case you were wondering) and part of it is that the storylines somehow made a little more sense, or just enough sense for the holidays. In this Season 3 gem, Elaine finds a baby, fights for baby’s custody, everyone gets baby fever (EVEN LING!) and then  Ally and Renee and the gang sing suggestive Christmas songs at that bar they all go to all the time because it is the only bar in Boston (I think, I mean, that has to be the only excuse available, right?). Trust me, it all works somehow.


The O.C. “Christmukkah”

Was there ever a greater equal opportunity Holiday episode? Nope.


  • Ross Bonaime’s Picks:

Arrested Development “Afternoon Delight”

Nothing says the holidays like singing “Afternoon Delight” with some close family members at the holiday office party. “Afternoon Delight” takes the awkward holiday interactions to a whole new level, because of course this is Arrested Development. Michael and Maebe sing the unfortunate title song in karaoke, Gob “THE MAN IN THE $5,000 SUIT” Bluth warns the entire office not to fuck his sister and George Michael and Maebe finally share a kiss as the ground literally collapses underneath them. And we should all be lucky enough to celebrate the holidays with Mrs. Featherbottom.


Lost “The Constant”

“The Constant” isn’t only the best episode of Lost, but it’s also a fantastic holiday episode, even if you don’t remember it being one. Desmond’s promise that he’ll contact Penny on Christmas years into the future brings the two finally back together in one of the show’s most touching moments. Say what you will about smoke monsters, mysterious numbers and Boone’s flawless hair, but Lost knew how to great great moments out of it’s wonderful characters and “The Constant” is proof of that.


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia “A Very Sunny Christmas”

Of course “A Very Sunny Christmas” would be fucked up, we wouldn’t expect anything less from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Charlie remembers “great” holiday memories of his mother’s tradition of getting gangbanged by Santas, which inevitably leads to him almost biting the neck of a mall Santa. But despite how ruined the holidays can get – in no small part thanks to Frank buying the most desired of gifts for himself, only to ruin them –  what remains strong on It’s Always Sunny is the friendships. Even they can’t avoid a touch of sentimentality at this time of the year, by bookending the episode with a young Mac and Charlie bonding over their love of throwing rocks at trains.


Futurama “XMas Story”

If you worry about how insane Christmas gets, with people getting trampled on Black Friday and you’re one of those people who worries about the consumerism of the holidays and “taking the Christ out of Christmas,” well guess what, things are going to get much worse in the future. According to Futurama, around the year 2801, Santa Claus will become a giant robot, insistent on killing those on the naughty list and leaving people to run home when night falls, when Santa crosses some names off his list. Even if you can escape, Santa will be back when you least expect it: NEXT XMAS!


We also asked Tisdale to participate, but she apparently hates holiday TV. So, there’s that. Feel free to share your favorites IN THE COMMENTS, we’ll listen.

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