Welcome to Looking Streets Behind, a weekly Community retrospective column! Each week, we’ll dive into a Community episode that has reached the 10th-anniversary milestone. However, this week we’re switching it up. Since Community was on a brief hiatus for the Merry Happy season this time a decade ago, I thought I’d share my ranking of the show’s Christmas episodes. While the pickings are scant — the series only had three with Dan Harmon on board — they’re still the best holiday episodes in sitcom history. Maybe in television history. One might even say they’re “streets ahead.” Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.
Note: I am omitting “Intro to Knots” and just focusing on Harmon’s Christmas contributions. Mostly because that episode didn’t move me.
So, without further ado, I present you fine Human Beings with my personal ranking of the Community Christmas episodes. This was tough. To me, they’re all winners. I’m only doing this because of the flood of requests in my inbox begging for this very thing. This is a real statement that’s on the internet, so you know it’s true.
3. “Comparative Religion” (S01E12)
This was Community‘s first foray into non-denominational festive territory. Anthony Michael Hall guest-starred as Greendale’s resident bully who exceled at stapling his forehead and really wanted a winterdoodle, please and thank you. It was the inadvertent National Lampoon’s Vacation reunion we never saw coming. Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) learned to embrace religious beliefs beyond her own and that Christmas is really a time for family. It’s all about tolerance! There’s a wonderful, jolly smackdown between our study group and Anthony Michael Hall’s goonies. It’s never truly Christmas unless you’re beating the snot out of community college students! This episode has no shortage of the warm and fuzzies, but that’s par for the course with any Community episode. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from “Comparative Religion” courtesy of one Jeff Winger (Joel McHale):
“To me, religion is like Paul Rudd. I see the appeal and I would never take it away from anyone. But I would also never stand in line for it.”
2. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” (S02E11)
Cue Tim Burton‘s tears of jealousy because he never created this masterpiece. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” should be a holiday household staple. Everyone must watch it as a rite of passage when diving headfirst into the festive season. The stop-motion animation is spectacular in this episode. Abed’s (Danny Pudi) intricately detailed winter wonderland on Planet Abed is also a thing of beauty. Not to mention, this episode always tugs at the heartstrings. Abed discovered that his mother broke their annual Christmas tradition because she had a new family. Nothing elicits loneliness more than fractured familial relationships during the holidays. Thankfully, our study crew came to Abed’s rescue and reminded him that found family is still family. Christmas doesn’t necessarily have to be about rigid traditions, as long as you have the right people with which to spend it. And a Christmas Pterodactyl! Set phasers to Björk! Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the episode, since this is a thing I’m doing now:
“The meaning of Christmas is that we give it meaning. To me, it used to mean being with my mom. Now, I guess it means being with you guys. Thanks, Lost.” –Abed
1. “Regional Holiday Music” (S03E10)
You guessed it — “Regional Holiday Music” takes my Community Christmas episode top spot! This parody of Glee never fails to make me giggle like a schoolgirl. Perhaps it’s because I’m an avid fan of musicals or that I used to hate-watch Glee. Well, let me rephrase that: I hate-watched it to the point where I started to hate myself for subjecting myself to that tripe in the first place. Anyway, Taran Killam played a perfectly cheesy and creepy glee club director. You know, the one who may or may not be responsible for the last glee club brutally dying in that bus crash. Abed and Killam’s character Mr. Radison “infected” our core study group with “glee,” causing them to care about inane stuff like Regionals and Semi-Regionals and … um … what are Regionals, again? I dug that this episode poked fun at Glee‘s incessant plotlines involving Regionals.
Everyone had their own musical numbers, and by Mr. Winter, were they glorious. Highlights include Annie’s (Alison Brie) Betty Boop-inspired number about a Jewish girl attempting to comprehend Christmas. Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed with their Christmas rap, in which Glover got to put his rhyme-spitting skills on display. Additionally, Troy and Abed’s “Baby Boomer Santa” song to brainwash Pierce (Chevy Chase) into joining the glee club. Of course, I loved listening to Yvette Nicole Brown showcase her angelic pipes. Oh … Britta’s (Gillian Jacobs) in this? Let’s all let Britta sing her awkward Christmas song! One of my favorite quotes, if I may:
“It was almost like being on Ecstasy, except instead of having pointless conversations and dancing like idiots … oh, wait. It was exactly like being on Ecstasy.” — Britta
How would you rank Community‘s Christmas episodes? Sound off in the comments below! Be sure to join me next week for another installment of Looking Streets Behind, where we’ll be ranking the songs of “Regional Holiday Music.” Yes, I’m running out of ideas. Sue me. Oh, look — Kings of Leon!
Until then, stay streets ahead.
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