Hapa Holiday TV Episodes
South Park: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo
Growing up, my family allowed me to watch pretty much anything, even South Park. My aunt Jaimie introduced me to this iconic holiday episode and my life was forever changed. This was the first musical episode on South Park and poked fun of religion and politics. I mean, who could forget the catchy tune “Kyle's Mom is a Big Fat Bitch.” Truly, an iconic moment.
One thing I love about South Park is that NO ONE is safe from satire and ridicule. South Park keeps things in perspective, something we all need to do during the craziness of the holiday season.
Black Mirror: White Christmas (bonus episode for Season 2)
The hit British series Black Mirror finished its second season with a bonus episode called “White Christmas” that aired just before Christmas 2014. I refuse to give anything away by diving into the plot, especially for any reader who has not yet had the pleasure of bingeing the series. This episode was everything I could ask for in a show: tenderness, humor, crime, mystery, sci-fi, and of course, Jon Hamm. Winter is calling you to snuggle into some uncomfortably thrilling social sci-fi series like Black Mirror—or if you’re already a fan but missed this elusive bonus episode—I urge you to remedy that oversight.
Doctor Who/The Vicar of Dibley
Sure, holiday episodes are great. There are so many to choose from, Friends to The Office. But in my personal opinion, no one rocks a holiday episode quite like the British. I live for a British holiday special. Great British Bake Off Masterclass Holiday Special? Yes. Call the Midwife? Absolutely. But two shows have made their way into my yearly holiday rotation: Doctor Who and The Vicar of Dibley.
Vicar of Dibley is an old-school British TV show, written by Richard Curtis (aka writer/director of Love, Actually) and starring Dawn French (aka The Grey Lady in the Harry Potter films). In middle school, I used wait until 11:30 p.m. every Sunday to watch this show on PBS. The Christmas episodes were classic. “The Christmas Lunch Incident” never fails to make me giggle, and Richard Armitage in the final Christmas episodes is a dreamboat. But that’s only the first stop on the British Holiday TV train!
After an episode of Christmas in a Dibley barn, it’s time for Doctor Who! Doctor Who is my favorite TV show of all time, and the Christmas episodes are an absolute necessity to my holiday season. There are about 12 Doctor Who episodes you can watch, but I have a few favorites: “The Christmas Invasion,” “The Runaway Bride,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “The Husbands of River Song.” If you haven’t watched Doctor Who yet, maybe now’s a good time to start.
So happy holiday watching! Celebrate a very British Christmas with U.K. TV classics, mulled wine, and cake from GBBO. Your holiday season is now filled with the classic trifecta: eat, drink, and be merry!
The Office: A Benihana Christmas
I often find myself missing the early seasons of The Office, and “A Benihana Christmas” from Season 3 may be one of my favorite episodes of all time. It’s such a gem to re-watch during the holiday season, or even not!
Some of you may be able to relate to the holiday joy this episode brings through some of my fave moments:
Andy successfully isolating Dwight at Benihana, then Jim prompting Dwight to explain how to properly drain the blood from a goose.
Michael bringing two waitresses from Benihana back to the office, then marking one with a Sharpie so that he can tell them apart.
When Angela snaps at one of the waitresses for taking a toy and says, “I don’t walk into your house and steal your Hello Kitty backpack.”
There are so many more hilarious bits packed into this episode, and not enough time to list them all. What’s the holiday season without a little comedy?
Friends: The One With the Holiday Armadillo
Rebecca Lee Lerman
Just hearing “I’m the Holiday Armadillo” spoken by Ross, in my head, after all these years, will still send me into fits of laughter. Almost as much as “PIVOT!” in Season 16, Episode 5 “The One With the Cop.” Christmas festivities always dominate the holiday season, and when Ross’s son, Ben, stays with Ross for the holidays, Ross feels it is in his best interest to expose his son to his Jewish roots and teach him about Hanukkah. But, Ben still wants to see Santa. Ross cannot rent a Santa suit so late in the game—he tries his best—and ultimately, dresses up as an oversized Armadillo and names himself “The Holiday Armadillo” claiming that the Armadillo is the mascot for the Jewish holiday. Then, Chandler surprisingly shows up dressed as Santa to help Ross out.
It is the only holiday episode in Friends that focuses on Judaism and comes to a heartwarming conclusion when both Chandler, dressed as Santa, and Ross, dressed as the Armadillo, tell the story of the Festival of Lights to a wide-eyed Ben, who finally appreciates his cultural heritage and listens intently. Two friends dressed as fantastical figures of different religions (one more recently made up than the other) joining forces to teach their children well. It makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. Joey also makes a hilarious appearance as Superman. What’s not to love?
Hey Arnold (1.11) “Arnold’s Christmas”
Kathy Yamamoto - @kathyamafarted
I watched this episode when it first came out – I was one of the lucky kids on my block with access to cable – and didn’t think about it much. Until last year when, true story, the memory of this heartfelt episode came flooding back to me in a dream. You heard me right! This animated episode for children is heartfelt and made me CRY when I recently re-watched it. Let me tell you why.
Mr. Hyunh, Arnold’s Vietnamese refugee neighbor, recounts how he had to give up his young daughter to American soldiers because it was her best chance at survival. (RING TRUE TODAY, MUCH?) Arnold then makes it his Christmas mission to reunite the two. Does the episode have problems? YES. Helga for sure gives up her own personal happiness for Arnold which made me want to SHAKE her little cartoon shoulders and yell, “DON’T EVER SACRIFICE YOUR HAPPINESS FOR THE HAPPINESS OF A BOY YOU LOVE!” …but that’s for another think piece
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Lauren Hardie - @warlaur
Confession: I don't really watch TV. Ever. Unless I'm home for the holidays when I binge-watch Netflix (which usually means catching up on things that everyone raved about three or more years ago). But a few years ago, when I was living in Seoul, I was planning to have friends over for a holiday meal. My apartment was kinda out of the way for most, and by the time all the food was ready, I started getting texts from people bailing on me. Buncha jerks, I know. So, like a responsible adult who doesn't cancel on her friends last minute, I portioned out some leftovers to freeze, and ate the rest of my excellent homemade chili straight from the pot, with A Charlie Brown Christmas on repeat. It really is the perfect thing to watch when the holidays just feel... meh.