Battle of the Christmas Episodes: Community Vs. Modern Family

Christmas is coming up once again and so it's time for Christmas TV! One of our writers is here to help guide you, by shining a light on two favourites.

Josh Hague
20th November 2023
Image Credit: @communitytv- Instagram

November has arrived which means it’s out with Halloween, and in with Christmas. This time of year has always been a favourite of mine, from the music, the films and all the different activities: it's great. But nothing quite matches the joy of television Christmas specials, and no one does these better than sitcoms.  

When I think of this type of sitcom episode, there are two of my favourites that immediately come to mind. 'Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas' from Community, and Modern Family's 'Express Christmas'. 

I think the two come to mind for several reasons. In particular, they both take a strong 'family angle' approach that for many, is a key part of Christmas celebrations. Of course, Modern Family does this in a much more conventional way, following the shows core family as they rush to celebrate Christmas, weeks prior to the actual December 25th. Each dynamic between the different family members work together brilliantly, like the show always does, to make these hilariously funny moments that make the episode so great. But it is the last moments of the episode, where the family comes together to celebrate, as a fake snow machine sets a snow-white scene, that really makes the episode a perfect Christmas watch. It brings with it that warm, fuzzy feeling you need from these Christmas episodes. 

However, Community, an underrated favourite show of mine, takes a more alternative approach to family at Christmas, utilising the ‘found family’ trope to provide those same festive feelings. The episode trades in the shows usual live-action format, instead being entirely Claymation, as a way of paying tribute to holiday classics like ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.’ This puts ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ in a league of its own when it comes to Christmas themed episodes, but what makes it even better is the heart at the core of its story.  

The episode trades in the shows usual live-action format, instead being entirely Claymation, as a way of paying tribute to holiday classics like ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’.

It follows Abed and the rest of the study group travelling through “the most Christmassy planet in the universe,” that is in fact a fake scenario the rest of the gang plays along with to understand why Abed is seeing everything in Claymation. At the end of the episode, we learn Abed’s mum won't be visiting for the holiday, which has sent him into this emotional spiral of stop motion. It’s only when the group all come together to become Abed’s “new family” that he can see things as normal again. Its beautifully heartwarming, yet unbelievably funny at the same time, and that’s what allows the episode to become one of the greatest Christmas episodes of television.  

Whatever holiday themed episodes of TV bring you that Christmas spirit, it’s officially the season to start rewatching, and it’s never too early. 

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