A Comedic Christmas Watchlist

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Everyone has a holiday tradition they keep alive – personally, one of mine has been to watch an assortment of movies and holiday themed TV shows that make me laugh and forget about all the stupid, stressful parts of the holiday. For a literal nightmare year like 2020, this is especially true.

I know this is a random content drop from SquidFlicks, but if you have been around since 2007 you know this is just how we roll here. Happy Holidays you filthy animals! This is Shelby’s Super Comedy Christmas Playlist ™

Television

There are the classics like the Charlie Brown Christmas and the claymation staples like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but honestly I am burnt out on the sappy, happy Christmas tale in favor of some darker, more realistic stories. One timeless example: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It is a timeless story of despair and redemption and I always view it at least once this time of year.

The Office

I’ll start with modern entries from The Office. The Office is a series that many love and some hate. I love it, and I especially appreciate the myriad of holiday episodes it gave viewers in a 9 season run. In chronological order:


Season 2: Christmas Party (2005)
Our first experience of the major holiday on the early Office crew – Micheal buys his true love Ryan an iPod Video ($400), blowing way past the $20 limit for secret Santa. He then institutes a dirty santa game to pawn off his less than desirable gift from Phyllis, which goes about as well as expected.

Season 3: A Benihana Christmas (2006)
My personal favorite of them all. Michael gets dumped by Carol for creepily photoshopping himself over her ex husband on a family vacation/skiiing photo. He has two tickets to Sandals Jamaica and is now stuck going solo. Andy Jim and Dwight try to cheer him up by going to Benihana for lunch while Dueling Christmas parties erupt at the office between Pam/Karen and Angela. The two part episode culminates in Michael and Andy bringing their hibachi waitresses to the party in a misguided attempt to invite his new ‘girlfriend’ to Jamaica. She declines the invite, so Michael makes one last invite – and Jan accepts. The fallout in the coming episodes is sublime.

Season 5: Moroccan Christmas (2008)
Phyllis gets the reins after blackmailing Angela about her infidelity and so she makes the celebration more adult and worldly. The rest of the office is excited for the change in pace, but after Meredith gets plastered and sets herself on fire, the party turns into an HR headache and an impromptu intervention. As a sideplot, Dwight continues his capitalist vice-grip on holidays by cornering the resale market on the season’s hottest toy, Princess Unicorn


Season 6: Secret Santa (2009)
Micheal gets really pissed when Jim (the new party planning committee) grants Phyllis the powers of Santa for the first time. Micheal reacts as expected, first trying to compete as a second Santa and then pivoting to become the Prince of Peace himself, Jesus Christ. Looming news of the failing Dunder Mifflin getting bought out sours the mood, but Oscar finds a new crush in the warehouse and things end up working out when the entire office gets through to David Wallace for clarification.


Season 7: Classy Christmas (2010)
The last Michael Scott Christmas brings us a reunion with Holly Flax, although she is still in a strained relationship with AJ. Toby has to take leave to work as a juror on the Scranton Strangler case, prompting Holly to return as a temporary replacement. Michael moves the holiday party to coincide as her welcome party, forcing Pam to plan a second party altogether when he tosses all the existing decor and food out. Jim gets caught in a no-win snowball war with Dwight, a rare instance when Dwight bests the Prank King of the Office.

Season 8: Christmas Wishes (2011)
Robert California, fresh off his divorce, brings his depressed ass to the party and heals by drinking heavily with Erin, who is also despondent after meeting Andy’s girlfriend Jessica. She gets absolutely wasted and wishes for Jessica to die, and other coworkers help Erin in sabotaging Andy’s relationship. Robert offers to take her home and Andy thinks it’s a ploy to bed her down. He tails Robert’s car after the party in Meredith’s van to find out the truth.


Season 9: Dwight Christmas (2012)
Everyone forgets about planning the party, but Phyllis reveals she didn’t forget. Since she has been slighted by the party planning committee countless times by this point in the show, she decided to let the whole office suffer. Dwight saves the day by bringing his distinct Pennsylvania Dutch flavor to the season, but things get off the rails when Oscar digs into the tradition and discovers the existence of Black Peter, a racist caricature of the celebration. Andy is still gone from his sailboat selling/sailing sojourn, so Erin medicates by letting intern Pete entertain her with Die Hard. Jim has to leave early for his sports marketing job in Philly, and Dwight takes his emotions out on him, while Darryl is worried that Jim has forgotten to bring him along on the new venture.

Seinfeld

Next up, the classic series Seinfeld. I think everyone is familiar with the episode that introduces a new holiday into our celebration lineup, Frank Costanza’s Festivus, but there are actually a few episodes that are set in the Christmas season

Season 3: The Red Dot (1991)
A classic George disaster ensues when he buys a damaged, non-returnable cashmere sweater as a gift for Elaine. Elaine is dating a coworker, Dick, who is or is not an alcoholic, a subject of debate among the group. Jerry accidentally serves him alcohol and messes him up. They try to use Kramer as a test for Dick, but it fails and Kramer becomes obsessed with the scotch they were using. The episode culminates in George having sex with the office cleaning woman and then passing off the damaged sweater to her. Enraged by cashmere, the cleaning woman reports him and he is fired.

Season 4: The Pick (1992)
A holiday staple, the Christmas card, becomes a nightmare after a photo of Elaine is found to be more revealing than expected. Kramer of course was the photographer and did not catch that Elaine had a wardrobe malfunction, with a nipple being the focal point of the card. Elaine has to deal with the fallout from all the recipients of her pornographic holiday greeting, while George is upset he was slighted and left off the mailing list. While attending therapy, he gets unglued about a stuck jacket zipper and makes the therapist upset too. Jerry ends up getting dumped by his model girlfriend Tia when she thinks she sees him picking his nose in traffice. Kramer, upset that Calvin Klein has stolen his perfume idea “The Ocean” goes to complain and ends up being cast in an underwear shoot, where he also suffers a wardrobe malfunction.

Season 9: The Strike (1997)
One of the most iconic episodes of television. After attending the newly converted (just for the jokes) Tim Whatley’s Hanukkah party, Jerry meets Gwen and George is upset to learn that his gift is a donation to the “Children’s Foundation”, and feels that is not a fair exchange for the Yankees tickets he gave Whatley. The group learns about Festivus when George opens a card from his father referencing the holiday he invented and George has sought to repress. Elaine accidentally gave her fake number to a denim vest guy at Whatley’s party on the back of her nearly completed sub club card, and has to track it down by tracing the number to a off-track betting parlor, and then routes it to H&H Bagels, where Kramer has returned to work after a 12 year strike in demand of a higher wage (which by 1997 has become the new minimum wage). Kramer rekindles Frank’s interest in Festivus, and they plan a celebration. George gives out fake gifts ala Whatley with donations to “The Human Fund’ whose slogan is “Money for People”. Kruger tries to donate $20k to the charity only to find out it is fake, so George is forced to assume his Festivus roots in a bid to save his job.
The disaster culminates with Jerry breaking up with Gwen because she looks pretty or ugly based on the lighting and she assumes he is cheating with the other ‘ugly’ girl which is Elaine, who was stuck in a steamy bagel shop (thanks to Kramer sabotaging the pipes) waiting on denim vest guy to call. Frank Costanza loses his edge when the Annual Airing of the Grievances starts, Kramer bails because he thinks the holiday is “kooky”. He leaves when summoned to wrestle Frank in the “Feats of Strength”, leaving George to assume his spot and relive his childhood trauma.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The third series I celebrate Christmas with is none other than It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which has some iconic holiday celebrations.

A Very Sunny Christmas (2009)
An absolute gem, and a double length episode. The Gang is as awful as always, and Christmas in particular is proof that their depravity knows no bounds. We are introduced to the traumatic past that Frank inflicted on Dee and Dennis with years of bait and switch gifts – this time, a designer handbag and Lamborghini are the carrots on the stick. Charlie and Mac, both products of severely dysfunctional homes, embark on a recollection tour that reveals Charlie’s mom was a prostitute and Mac’s father had them break into homes and steal presents from other kids. They refuse to make amends by returning a gift stolen from a childhood friend, but attempt to replace it with an alternate item. Charlie melts down and assaults a mall Santa. Dee and Dennis attempt to force Frank into a Christmas Carol type redemption when they employ Frank’s long-slighted business partner in some Dickensonian revenge. The plot of course backfires with a twist only karmically fitting for the gang. The episode culminates in drunken caroling on a rough Philly street, and throwing rocks at trains just like the old days.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force

An irreverent holiday is not complete without the ATHF gang and Carl

Season 1: Mail Order Bride (2002)
The episode that spawns my favorite line of all time “It don’t matter, none of this matters.” Shake and Carl split the cost on a mail order bride from Chechnya while Meatwad and Frylock try to celebrate Christmas. Carl gets locked out of his house when Svetlana arrives by mail and realizes her husbands to be are depraved monsters. Carl attempts to enter his house by climbing across a makeshift bridge on the rooftops and Shake fails to hold it steady, leading to Carl breaking his neck. The wedding ceremony occurs with Svetlana barricaded in the house and Carl in a neck brace. Absolute gem.

Season 1: Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future (2002)
Carl is haunted by his past as a robot claiming to be the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future assaults the group with a rambling story of an apocalypse that is nigh. Carl decides it is time to finally move when his pool mysteriously fills with blood. The Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future explains that it is the blood of ancient elves and that it is a very long story, which upsets Meatwad. Carl is offered a deal of a lifetime when Glen Danzig offers to pay well over market for the house on account of the ‘endless’ blood supply. When he runs out of blood, he comes searching for the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future, who tries to hide with the Aqua Teens in their house.

Movies

Some comedic classics that deserve viewing:

Christmas Vacation (1989)
The ultimate family Christmas tale – proving that our memories of holidays spent with family are WAY more fun that when we actually suffered through them in reality. Family Man Clark Griswold is taken to the edge of sanity, the threshold of Hell, when all family decides to come in for the holiday season (and they arrive on Dec 14th!!!) Decorating disasters, property damage, budgets blown, pet fatalities, and more occur in this absolute seasonal shit show. I watch this at least 4-5 times a year, if not more. This and Elf are two of my top 25 movies of all time honestly. A favorite pastime in my family was to watch this on VHS and just quote it endlessly. I will always cherish the memory, and introduce this one to anybody who somehow has not had the chance to enjoy it.

Elf (2003)
A modern classic, Elf chronicles the story of an orphaned boy who sneaks into Santa’s bag and becomes Buddy, the adopted elf. Once his human form impedes with elf life, he embarks on a journey to find his biological father, a ruthless Children’s book publisher that has been “On the Naughty List” for decades. Buddy finds the human world to be markedly different from his elf upbringing in harsh New York City, but he manages to help save the season and bring everyone together when Christmas Eve and Santa need saving.

Christmas With The Kranks (2004)
A classic tale of two empty nesters planning on eschewing the holiday and instead spending the savings on a vacation is upended when their adult daughter announces she is arriving. Having to rekindle the spirits of neighbors that they have maligned with their Scroogy ways, the entire neighborhood comes together to throw the biggest party the Kranks have ever hosted.

Four Christmases (2008)
A newer, and now very relatable holiday film that chronicles the travails of a yuppie couple who eschew family traditions and travel most years, but are caught in a lie and have to make the grand tour to visit four separate holiday celebrations due to having divorced and remarried parents on both sides. I love it.

Honorable Mentions
Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone 2 (1992)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Scrooged (1988)
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
The Santa Clause (1994)
Jingle All The Way (1996)
Bad Santa (2003)

Hot Take: I don’t care for A Christmas Story. It just isn’t my cup of tea. Lots of people rave over it, but I think Christmas Vacation is far superior.

Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!

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