The 10 Best Holiday Episodes of TV Shows on Netflix Canada Right Now
We all have a favourite Christmas movie, but holidays on the small screen can be just as magical. Here's your guide to the best festive episodes of TV shows on Netflix Canada.
Christmas on the small screen
Holiday episodes can get a bad rap for being overly sentimental. In the elegant words of Bojack Horseman, who is featured below, “special holiday episodes are always stupid.” But they can also make for some of the richest storytelling, precisely because the holidays carry so much meaning. This list features episodes about many kinds of Christmases, whether they be magical, chaotic or even heartbreaking. Between your annual viewings of Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life, make some time for the holiday specials of these TV shows on Netflix Canada.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – “Christmas Show”
“Christmas Show” is the rare Fresh Prince episode that brings the entire Smith family together—Will, his mom and her sisters, plus their husbands and kids. The extended clan rent a ski cabin for what is supposed to be a fun family getaway, but everything that could go wrong does: there aren’t enough beds, uncle Lester breaks his leg, and a thief steals the Christmas presents. The Smiths give each other the promise of love and companionship instead, which is both as corny as it sounds and extremely moving. Plus, Carlton does “The Carlton” in a Christmas sweater.
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The Office – “Christmas Party”
Christmas can bring out the best in people. For The Office‘s Michael Scott, however, it brings out petulance and greed. Insulted by the mitts Phyllis knits him for Secret Santa, Michael insists that everyone in the office play “Yankee Swap,” a game where participants steal others’ Secret Santa gifts. It makes for an uncomfortable office but a very funny episode—the ‘babies playing jazz’ poster that Toby gets Angela is absolutely hilarious. And, as with any good Office episode, the sour is balanced with some sweet, like when Pam discovers the personalized gifts inside her teapot from Jim. Because, as he puts it: “Christmas is the time to tell people how you feel.”
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Gilmore Girls – “Forgiveness and Stuff”
For a light-hearted Gilmore Christmas, you can’t go wrong with season two’s “Bracebridge Dinner,” which features sleigh rides and Kirk speaking Old English. But the first season’s “Forgiveness and Stuff” gets at the heart of the holidays with its themes of forgiveness…and stuff. The episode takes place in the aftermath of Rory and Dean’s accidental all-nighter, which means Rory, Lorelai and Emily are all mad at each other and barely speaking. But then, at the Gilmore Christmas party, Grandpa Richard has a heart attack and the three Gilmore women must make amends in their fast-talking, wise-cracking way. This episode also features Luke cooking Lorelai a Santa burger, which is as adorable as it is gross.
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Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Yippie Kayak”
If you know Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you know what Jake Peralta’s favourite movie is—and you understand the joy on his face when, upon finding himself caught in a department-store robbery on Christmas Eve, he exclaims: “Oh my god, it’s real-life Die Hard.” But even if you don’t love Brooklyn, this holiday episode is a thrill, hitting the Die Hard beats perfectly while adding its own spin (including flamethrowers and evil Canadians.) In the end, Jake cedes the Bruce Willis action moment to his partner Charles, and in so doing gives Charles the ultimate gift: proof that Jake loves him more than any movie.
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Mad Men – “Christmas Comes But Once A Year”
Mad Men‘s “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” is a brooding holiday episode if there ever was one. Recently divorced Don is already grumpy before he gets a heartbreaking letter from his daughter Sally, telling him she wishes they could spend Christmas together. As usual, Don does something inappropriate after the office Christmas party instead of working through his feelings. This is a good one to watch if you’re a little moody over the holidays, partly because it might help you feel less alone, and partly because John Slattery dressing up as Santa Claus will put a smile on your face.
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Friends – “The One With The Holiday Armadillo”
“The Holiday Armadillo” is the rare Christmas special that remembers the existence of Hanukkah. In fact, that struggle for recognition is what gives this Friends episode its plot: Ross wants to teach his son Ben about his Jewish heritage, but Ben only wants to hear about Santa. Somehow this leads to Santa Claus, Superman, and a Holiday Armadillo gathered in Monica’s living room, lighting a menorah. And, like the oil that burned for eight days, the sight of Ross in an armadillo costume is a miracle that brings much joy.
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Arrested Development – “Afternoon Delight”
For a dysfunctional family Christmas, look no further than the Bluths of Arrested Development. “Afternoon Delight” revolves around the Bluth Company’s annual Christmas party, which Gob of course ruins by firing everyone, necessitating a second party where Michael can re-hire everyone. The episode builds to a classic Arrested climax that features a wonderful shot of Gob, in a banana suit, falling into the ocean. And amidst all the chaos, siblings Michael and Lindsay even manage to find some Christmas spirit.
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Orange Is the New Black – “Can’t Fix Crazy”
“Can’t Fix Crazy” is a good reminder that not everyone gets to spend Christmas with their loved ones. This Orange Is the New Black episode follows the rising tensions between protagonist Piper and evangelical inmate Pennsatucky, who feels disrespected by Piper’s refusal to be baptized. The conflict builds to a dark confrontation, but what’s most memorable about this episode is the prison pageant staged by the women of Litchfield Penitentiary. Each inmate has her moment to shine, especially the normally silent Norma, who steps forward at the last second to sing a rendition of “I Saw the Light” that can only be described as angelic.
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Bojack Horseman – “Sabrina’s Christmas Wish”
When you think about it, Bojack Horseman has a lot in common with the Grinch. They’re both not human, they both had hard childhoods and they both hate Christmas. This special takes place on Christmas morning, when Todd convinces Bojack to watch a holiday episode of Horsin’ Around, the sitcom that Bojack starred on in the ’90s. As a result, we as viewers get to watch Horsin’ Around and hear Todd and Bojack’s commentary on it, making this episode both a parody of and tribute to those classic Christmas specials. Bojack’s cold heart eventually melts a little as he and Todd watch his old show: proof that even Grinches need company on Christmas.
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Schitt’s Creek – “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose”
If you’ve already had a hard year, the holidays can make things seem that much worse. For the Roses of Schitt’s Creek, who lost their entire fortune, Christmas is a painful reminder of the life they used to have. In this season four Christmas special, however, family patriarch Johnny Rose wakes up on Christmas Eve and decides he wants to celebrate. At first, the other Roses resist, but eventually they come together for a small party at the Rosebud motel. Like Schitt’s Creek as a whole, this is a story about people making the most of what they have, the best part of which is each other. Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose.
Next, check out the best holiday movies of all time.