1. "Afternoon Delight" Arrested Development
I will concede and say that Afternoon Delight is not really a Christmas episode - the only festive component is the Bluth Christmas Party, which, in classic Bluth style, is more chaotic than anything else. A combination of terrible karaoke choices, jealousy and Gob’s massive ego leave the family trying to salvage what is left of their business and christmas party in this hilarious roller-coaster-ending with the whole family inadvertently becoming a pivotal force in their own self-destruction. For what the episode lacks in holiday cheer it makes up for in classic arrested development humor. The episode includes so many of the things fans love most about the show like misunderstandings based on wordplay and jealous plans gone wrong. It is, in my opinion, one of the best episodes of comedy television of all time. Afternoon Delight is a perfect holiday viewing for those who want to escape the commercial cheesiness of most christmas specials and just sit back, relax and laugh with the people they love.
Highlight: When Buster uses his "army" skills to save the day.
2. "Bob Rest Ye Gentle Mannequin" Bob's Burgers
This episode has it all; a reunion of lost loves, a death in the family, Christmas displays and holiday generosity. Bob and his family go on another crazy adventure to help Clayton - a man who was once a mannequin, reunite with his wife so he can help Bob raise enough money to give his family the Christmas he wants to give them. The surprisingly poignant and festive finale is heart-warming and cheery without compromising Bob’s Burger’s classic oddball humor- giving the fans a Christmas experience they can cherish unapologetically.
Highlight: The romantic make out session.
3. "Forgiveness and Stuff" Gilmore Girls
The Gilmore women are forced to forgive each other in this memorable examination of how tragedy affects families. The episode uses tragedy to show what many families realize during the holidays - that although we often disagree and feud with each other, the love that we have for one another is much more important than ultimately arbitrary arguments. The episode really hollows out the characters in more whole ways - with Emily showing vulnerability to Richard and even to Luke. Lorelei also becomes more dimensional when she abandons her carefree, sarcastic demeanor in favor for maturity and even real fear. Ultimately, the viewer gains insight into the family and character dynamics while still enjoying a family coming together through hard times.
Highlight: Lauren Graham’s performance when receiving the call about Richard.
4. “Can’t Fix Crazy” Orange is the New Black
It does not get much more dismal than Christmas at Prison. The season one finale juxtaposes the innocent delight the prisoners take in the nativity play with the rest of the dark stuff happening inside the prison - including Red leaving the kitchen and Mendez’s love for Daya affecting her relationship with Bennett. As the episode ends, pressure on Piper mounts. With Alex hating her, Larry breaking up with her and Pennsatucky threatening to kill her the pressure grows to be too much. The final scene- in which the usually mute Norma sings “I saw the Light” while Piper is outside beating Pennsatucky to death- is one of the most powerful moments of the entire show and certainly of this season.
Highlight: Pennsatucky wiping blood on Piper’s chest is incredibly disturbing.