12 (School) Days of Christmas: TV holiday specials are underrated


Avery Greenaway, Web Editor

During the holiday season, television networks air holiday classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Elf, and It’s a Wonderful Life, but the real treat of the season is provided by holiday special episodes of beloved TV series.

A television show’s holiday special features the characters that viewers enjoy all year round, but now those characters are celebrating the Christmas season while advancing their plot, making the shows exponentially better.

Disagree? Think of the iconic Christmas parties in The Office, or the drama that would erupt during a Gossip Girl Christmas.

There are many reasons that these holiday specials give fans a little something extra to celebrate every year.

First of all, the spirit of Christmas invading favorite TV programs makes them more wholesome. The meaning of Christmas usually brings a family closer together or makes a usually grumpy character adopt a jolly mood.

A prime example of the latter is Season 6 of That 70’s Show, when Red becomes a mall Santa, which serves comedic purposes, but also warms hearts.

Pertaining to ABC shows like Modern Family or The Middle, even though their yearly Christmas episodes tend to be a tad repetitive, the message they bring makes them way better than the usual weekly airing of the shows. Watching an American family like the Pritchetts or the Hecks learn the true meaning of Christmas never gets old.

Holiday specials also inspire plot developments.

For example, the first Christmas episode of ‘90s sitcom Friends includes major changes in all six of the characters’ love lives. Ross and Rachel flirt because Rachel’s boyfriend didn’t come home for Christmas; Monica, Chandler, and Joey all start new romances that disappoint them; and Phoebe’s new scientist boyfriend takes a sudden, solemn exit when he’s recruited for research in Minsk.

Or consider the dramatic Christmases in The Office: Jim almost tells Pam he loves her in the Season 2 Christmas episode; Jim reveals that he still loves Pam even though he’s dating Karen in Season 3; and everyone but Andy finds out Angela’s cheating on him with Dwight in Season 5. It seems like the holiday spirit makes screenwriters place plot-filled gifts under the tree.

Also, fans can always count on holiday specials coming every December. They’re an American television tradition. And with streaming sites like Netflix, not only can fans enjoy the new episodes each year, they can go back and watch earlier Christmas episodes of their favorite show to get in a festive mood.

These yearly treats should not be overlooked in the presence of repetitive classics like Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas or A Christmas Story.

Holiday specials are so underrated; every year Americans ignore them to watch movies they already know. No matter what type of television viewers are interested in, they shouldn’t neglect the holiday special of their favorite show this year.