Good tidings to all, and to all happy holidays. The turkey is officially digested and that can only mean one thing: For the next four and a half weeks, we are officially in Holiday Season. The time is now for spiked eggnog—the better to help you remain War Ready while you trudge through perennially packed malls, Christmas trees/menorahs/Kwanzaa candles, an endless barrage of holiday music (whatup, Mariah?) across all radio, and of course, holiday-themed movies and television. Because how could anyone be expected to maintain the Holiday Spirit™ for a full month without some timely programming from our favorite TV stations to keep the yuletide fever buoyant? Moreover, the holidays wouldn't be half as fun if they didn't provide a resonant excuse to rewatch the likes of A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Jingle All the Way, Die Hard, Batman Returns...you get the idea.
But Christmas movies are already well spoken for. We're here to put a Santa hat on the good ol' silver screen tube, and all of the gifts bestowed upon us through the great medium of TV, from the obvious specials to holiday-themed episodes from some of our favorite shows that nevertheless stand on their own. Instead of giving you a straight up list, the brain trust at Complex Pop compiled their favorite holiday episodes and ordered them into a handy viewing playlist just for you. We'll be telling you what to watch on each day up until The Big Day, with carefully selected choices that reflect the peaks and valleys of Chrismukkah-mania. The holidays can be taxing, but TV can get you through them. Stick with us and hey, you might even make it to Christmas.
Dec 1: The Year Without Santa Claus
Dec. 2: Saved by the Bell, "A Home for Christmas"
Dec. 3: The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"
Dec. 4: Arrested Development, "Afternoon Delight"
Dec. 5: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, "Christmas Show"
Dec. 6: Supernatural, "A Very Supernatural Christmas"
Dec. 7: Frasier, "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz"
Dec. 8: 30 Rock, "Ludachristmas"
Dec. 9: Curb Your Enthusiasm, "Mary, Joseph and Larry"
Dec. 10: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Amends"
Dec. 11: Happy Endings, "No-Ho-Ho"
Dec. 12: Hey Arnold!, "Arnold's Christmas"
Dec. 13: Veronica Mars, "An Echolls Family Christmas"
Dec. 14: Tales From the Crypt / American Horror Story: Asylum
Dec. 15: Mad Men, "Christmas Comes But Once a Year"
Dec. 16: The O.C., "The Best Christmukkah Ever"
Watch it today because: It's the first day of Hanukkah! What better way to celebrate the Festival of Lights than Ryan's introduction to the Cohen's annual co-denominational family tradition. Maybe it's because I also grew up in Southern California with one Jewish parent, but "The Best Chrismukkah Ever" just might be my favorite holiday episode of all time (FHEOAT, for short). It's rare that a Christmas (or Hanukkah) story is particularly memorable—let alone instrumental to a show's success—but showrunner Josh Schwartz avoided the clichés and spun his portmantastic celebration into a modern classic. Aside from the introduction of television's best fake holiday (I'd choose Chrismukkah over Festivus any day), it continued season one's Anna vs Summer arc—a.ka. every socially awkward kid's never-in-a-million-years wet dream. Leave it to The OC to realize the ultimate holiday gift is two beautiful young women vying for a comic book geek's heart—however unrealistic that may be. —Nathan Reese
Dec. 17: The Sopranos, "To Save Us All From Satan's Power"
Dec. 18: The Office (UK), "Christmas Special"
Dec. 19: Extras, "The Extra Special Series Finale"
Dec. 20: Louie, "New Year's Eve"
Dec. 21: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dec. 22: Lost, "The Constant"
Dec. 23: Seinfeld, "The Strike"
Dec. 24: South Park, "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo"
Christmas Day: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Watch it today because: It’s Christmas! There are well over just twenty-five dope holiday episodes to choose from (sorry if one of your faves didn't make the cut), but our daily Christmas TV calendar would be invalid if we didn’t include the most important Christmas special of all time: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Next year, the ABC special turns 50, having originally aired on ABC back in 1965. It still holds up.
Anyone who has felt the blues around the holiday season can relate to Charlie Brown’s predicament: He’s just not feeling the yule this year, fam. He even admits to suffering from a little depression. But Dr. Charles Schultz wants all you Charlie Browns to know that there’s nothing wrong with those feelings. Especially since, as we all know, Christmas isn’t about celebrating Jesus and spending time with family. It’s about the Dow closing above 18k for the first time in history, and making that dough like Lucy at her psychiatric booth.
Christmas is about commercialism, and Charlie Brown isn’t on that tip. “I think there must be something wrong with me,” he tells Linus. “I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” Too bad, because everyone else is jamming to Vince Guaraldi while you sit over there like a sad sack.
But at the end of the day, CB knows he doesn’t need a big Christmas Tree to get him into the holiday spirit. He just needs friends and a little juice from the director’s chair and then everything ends up being totally OK. Take a cue from Charlie Brown and don’t let mass consumerism get you down today. Merry Christmas. —Lauretta Charlton