From the Winslows to the Wayans Bros, some of our favorite TV families and friends remind us of the real reason behind Christmas – the laughter and togetherness. If you’re not yet in the holiday mood (or you’re stuck dealing with a Christmas Grinch) then these 17 holiday episodes should be enough to spread a little cheer.
Family Matters, "It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Urkel”
After going off on Urkel for breaking an expensive ornament she purchased for Harriette, Laura wishes he could see what it’s like to be her. A guardian angel grants her wish; Urkel becomes Steve Winslow, but in a twist, Laura becomes Laura Urkel — spoiler alert! It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “Deck the Halls”
Ashley has never experienced a real Christmas and Will refuses to let that stand, so he goes all out to make sure she does. The family isn’t really into Christmas and neighbors get a little upset over Will and Ashley’s Christmas spirit and décor — calling Will’s decorations the “Kmart look.” There’s an appearance from Evander Holyfield and Carlton’s caroling group provides some laughs. It’s a heartfelt, light, hilarious episode that gets at the spirit of Christmas without all the heavy stuff.
The Game, "The Ghost of Derwin Past"
Dionne goes behind Melanie’s back and decides to work with Derwin again. Jason gets cut from a commercial and his bad mood ruins Christmas. Things aren’t too rosy at Tasha’s house either since no one’s in the holiday spirit. Things eventually come together, though, as everyone reflects on the events of the day.
Photo by MATTHIAS CLAMER
Living Single, "Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow…Dammit" -
The gang takes a trip to the childhood Canadian cabin Overton used to frequent as kid, but a cranky Mountie and a series of mishaps dampen the mood. Regina’s mad at Khadijah for stealing a man she didn’t even want and Kyle and Maxine are running around like horny teens until gift giving goes wrong. But by the end, everyone’s cool and Synclaire helps Overton realize that the people you love are what makes the holidays special.
Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, “Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag”
A mysterious stranger might change Nicole’s mind about Santa, but it’s going to take some work. Coach Cooper tries his hand at being a mall Santa.
Girlfriends, "Merry Ex-Mas”
The real story here is Maya’s jealousy over Darnell’s relationship with his new girlfriend Lena and the fact that she got their son Jabari a Game Cube when Maya and Darnell agreed he wouldn’t get one for Christmas. While the episode isn’t really about the Christmas spirit, it does take a look at situation that many people have had to maneuver — co-parenting during the holidays and meeting an ex’s new significant other.
Black-ish, "Black Santa/White Christmas"
With the news of the Mall of America’s decision to hire a black Santa and the ensuing backlash from racists everywhere, now is the perfect time to revisit — or watch for the first time — “Black Santa/White Santa,” where we see Dre vying for the position of office Santa and embarrassing his family in the process. Ruby and Bow also go head to head over who gets to cook holiday dinner — we’re always rooting for Ruby in this department.
Photo by Kelsey McNeal
One on One, "Everybody Loves Whom?”
Duane isn’t living with his mom anymore so he’s throwing a holiday feast, which no one seems excited about. Breanna’s mom Nicole — played by Tichina Arnold — comes to the party with her new man and Flex, who was sure she was still in love with him, gets jealous — which his girlfriend is not here for. There’s an awkward moment between Breanna and Arnaz and his gift to her might mean more than friendship.
Martin, "Swing Thing”
Martin and Gina think they're going to a fancy Christmas party to network, meet some influential people, and swap gifts. Little do they know that the influencers they’re schmoozing are also swingers. Nothing says ‘Happy Holidays’ like swapping partners!
The Bernie Mac Show, “Road to Tradition”
Bernie is over the kids’ obsession with gifts, so he cancels Christmas. Bernie is further upset by an overqualified, lackluster elf and a mall visit that goes wrong. There’s quality time building a gingerbread house that doesn’t go as planned and time around the tree that isn’t as special as he hoped.
A Different World, "I’m Dreaming of a Wayne Christmas"
Whitley spends the holidays with Dwayne and struggles to win the approval of his mother, played by Patti LaBelle. While Dwayne and Whitley are #relationshipgoals throughout, it’s Patti LaBelle’s portrayal as Mrs. Wayne that takes the cake.
Kenan & Kel, "Merry Christmas, Kenan”
Cans of orange soda as Christmas tree ornaments, Kel’s numerous goofy mistakes, and Kenan dressed as Santa; it’s just another Christmas for Kenan and Kel. Kenan also plans to spend all his Christmas money on a mountain bike despite not getting gifts for his family and friends — wow, selfish much, Kenan — but he changes his mind and eventually gets into the holiday spirit.
Sister, Sister, “Christmas”
Grandpa Campbell shows up with some baggage — a massive debt to a loan shark — but Tamera, Lisa, and Tia decide to forgo buying gifts and secretly repay the debt because that’s what the holidays are about, right? Shout out to the late Sherman Hemsley, who played a flawless Grandpa Campbell.
Everybody Hates Chris, "Everybody Hates Kwanzaa"
In a very Julius move, the Rock patriarch decides that the family should celebrate Kwanzaa instead of Christmas because Kwanzaa’s cheaper — although, he doesn’t explain his real motives to the family. And, for a school assignment, Chris helps Kill Moves, a homeless man who practices martial arts, find a gift for his mother — who happens to be a millionaire.
Photo by RICHARD CARTWRIGHT
Moesha, “A Class Act Christmas”
Moe is dreaming of the perfect Christmas, but things don’t go smoothly. It starts with her dad bringing home a used tree, Moe has to work on Christmas Eve, and then the shop gets held up. Merry Christmas!
The Wayans Bros., "Psycho Santa”
While Pops was hoping to spend some quality time with his boys, Marlon and Shawn want to hit the slopes with some ladies they’ve been chilling with. Unfortunately, no one gets the Christmas they want when a crazy Santa holds them hostage for not having any holiday cheer. There’s a weird pageant and family dinner with Dee and T.C. that brings the laughs, but by the end — even though Santa’s methods are extremely over the top — everyone’s got a bit of the holiday spirit.
The Parkers, "Secret Santa”
Nikki’s totally in the holiday spirit, planning her annual Christmas tree trimming party, but everyone turns down the invitation. Later, she takes a trip to the mall for some retail therapy, but lo and behold, she gets trapped in a store after running into the rest of the gang.