As we approach the final days before Christmas, there's a palpable exhaustion — from the stores, the weather, and the politicians — from the overwhelming amount of holiday cheer from the major media platforms. Nevertheless, these Christmas episodes feel like a comforting blanket, never failing to lift the mood.
"Marge Be Not Proud" (Season 7, Episode 11)
Matt Groening's sitcom is generally considered a comedy, but there are some truly dramatic episodes. One of them is the Christmas episode "Marge Be Not Proud". Bart is excited about getting a new video game for Christmas. But Marge turns him down, so he steals the game from the supermarket and gets caught in the clutches of a massive security guard. Soon, the rest of the Simpsons find out about his crime, and Bart becomes almost an outcast.
This melancholic episode makes the viewers realize that Christmas is a great time to reflect on your life and make others happy. Cool gadgets wrapped in pretty packaging aren't important: what you truly need this Christmas is a warm hug.
"The One with the Holiday Armadillo" (Season 7, Episode 10)
Friends have to deal with all sorts of troubles in this Christmas episode. Ross has a hard time explaining Hanukkah to his son. Chandler and Monica can't find a free table at a restaurant (Chandler totally can't bribe). Rachel and Phoebe almost fight over the apartment. Well, and Joey bangs on the drums for hours on end — which annoys everyone. Toward the end, the episode turns into a real extravaganza with Ross wearing the Holiday Armadillo costume telling Superman and Santa Claus about the Jewish holiday. Does your Christmas party ever get that weird?
"Christmas Party" (Season 2, Episode 10)
A little sad, but paradoxically one of the funniest episodes of the American TV show The Office. On Christmas Eve, the office staff play Secret Santa: each employee buys a present worth $20 or less to give to one of their coworkers, anonymously. The boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carell), buys a $400 iPod and, after receiving a homemade oven mitt in return, insists that they instead play Yankee Swap, so everyone can choose a gift and take it away from their coworker. The party gets bogged down in corporate cynicism, so Scott breaks the office policy and buys 15 bottles of vodka to raise everyone's spirits.
Scott mentioned that a person's gift reflects their attitude — and in this respect, other characters' presents were as funny as the homemade mitt.
"How The Ghosts Stole Christmas" (Season 6, Episode 6)
The creators of The X-Files prove that Christmas can be just as scary as Halloween. "How The Ghosts Stole Christmas" resembles both The Conjuring and The Haunting of Hill House, even though the events take place on Christmas Eve. In the episode, Mulder persuades Scully to inspect an abandoned mansion, which he believes to be haunted by the ghosts of a long-dead couple. The seemingly absurd idea turns into a real test as the agents experience what might be the creepiest night of their lives. Despite the obvious mysticism, the characters' fears are mostly rational, and the episode conveys a very realistic message. In addition to the walking dead, the FBI agents have to face their own loneliness, professional deformation, and selfishness.
How I Met Your Mother
"How Lily Stole Christmas" (Season 2, Episode 11)
Christmas is in jeopardy: Lily accidentally learns that Ted said rude things about her when she was broken up with Marshall. As she takes all the festive decorations from the apartment and leaves, Ted has only a couple of hours to save Christmas.
"Christmas Waltz" (Season 5, Episode 10)
One of the most poignant episodes of Mad Men. Christmas is just around the corner, but the characters' lives are slowly falling apart right before their eyes. Debt obligations, relationship crisis, and short-lived luck — hardly anyone would like to step into the new year, weighed down with such baggage. Imbued with sadness, the episode draws a harsh reality, in which some can easily go through the hard times, while others get mired in troubles. No romance — just real life.
"The Strike" (Season 9, Episode 10)
In the run-up to Christmas, the Seinfeld characters are in for a new mini-adventure. George creates a charity to save money on gifts for his coworkers, Kramer returns to work after 12 years and declares another strike, Jerry has the weirdest date of his life, and Elaine can't get a coupon for a free sandwich. The absurdity reaches its climax when we find out that George's father has created "Festivus", which is his own alternative to Christmas.
By the way, "The Strike" has a special guest appearance: Bryan Cranston!
"White Christmas" (Season 2, Episode 4)
"White Christmas", perhaps the best episode of Black Mirror, tells a story of how a character's attempt to subdue technologies comes back at him as a powerful boomerang. The episode consists of three chapters that all collapse on the viewer with a ruthless denouement. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to avoid spoilers. In terms of the plot, this episode of Black Mirror surpasses most similar genre films. Also, John Hamm plays a major role in it.