Let's Rank All The Friends Christmas Episodes!
Monkeys! Candy! A Dragon! This ranking's got it all.
Network sitcoms have fallen out of fashion over the past decade or so, which is a shame if for no other reason than that a series whose season order is less than the network standard -- twenty-two episodes -- may not necessarily do a Christmas episode. Friends did a bunch. In fact, they did a Christmas episode in every season except their tenth (and final). In Season 7, they actually spread the cheer across two episodes, which is good because the Season 9 episode -- "The One With Christmas In Tulsa" -- was pretty much just a clip show.
Perhaps you're planning to program your own Christmas Friends marathon? Let me help by telling you the correct order -- with all due respect to our friends at Uproxx, who tried to do this yesterday but on which I do not agree on except in one instance out of nine -- in which to watch them, counting down from worst to first.
- The One With The Inappropriate Sister (S05.E10)
The closest we get to a festive storyline is Phoebe volunteering to collect donations, with a bucket and a bell. (Not named: the organization she's collecting for, so I guess we can't assume it's the Salvation Army? Macy's paid for product placement, though, apparently!) However, Phoebe's faith in humanity is soon destroyed.
Not that I blame her -- people can be animals -- but it's...not very Christmasy.
- The One With The Creepy Holiday Card / The One With Ross's Step Forward (S08.E11)
Weirdly, this one has different titles depending on where you look? Regardless: it's from the Ross and Mona era. "Who was Mona?" Exactly. ...She was the woman he met at Chandler and Monica's wedding and kept dating even though he didn't really like her much. In this episode, he makes an offhand comment about a photo they took together skating at Rockefeller Center looking like a holiday card, which she seizes on and suggests making their joint card, even though they've never even said they love each other. But Ross is bad at uncomfortable conversations.
When you think about how much time the show spent marking time waiting for Ross and Rachel to get back together, it can really annoy you. EVEN NOW.
- The One With The Holiday Armadillo (S07.E10)
This one deserves a lot of credit for even acknowledging Hanukkah is celebrated by any of the characters in the Friends universe, and I imagine that the challenge for Jewish parents raising children with Christmas-celebrating partners is very real. Ross -- who has Ben for the holidays for the first time -- does try to tell Ben the story of Hanukkah, but it can't compete with Santa, so Ross caves and decides to do Christmas after all.
David Schwimmer doesn't get enough credit as a physical comedian, in my opinion, but his tail work here is impeccable.
- The One With All The Candy (S07.E09)
Because I am Monica, I love when Monica gets extremely Type A about unimportant shit -- like when she gets too invested in her neighbours' addiction to her Christmas candy.
Matt LeBlanc is also very Joey about it. "If we know [her name], can we have candy?" Heeeeee hee hee.
- The One With Phoebe's Dad (S02.E09)
This arguably has the most Christmas content of all the Christmas episodes. In the B-plot, which Rachel and Monica seem to be getting persecuted for giving Christmas cookies instead of cash tips, but then Mr. Treeger, their super, confirms that he found them more personal than cash. And while the A-plot primarily revolves around Phoebe's scuttled plan to meet her biological father for the first time, Chandler and Joey are along for the ride because they've put off their Christmas shopping and want to do it at the outlet shops upstate -- which they don't, because Phoebe spends so much time in the car trying to work up the courage to go up to the door. Their desperation leads to a delightful kicker over the closing credits.
Such nice timing for Cox and Schwimmer at the end.
- The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie (S04.E10)
After displacing Alessandro's beloved yet terrible chef, Monica is being bullied by all the restaurant staff. But maybe there's a way for her to turn things around?
"Lean, lean, lean!" cracks me up every time. And as a bonus, we get to close things out with the holiday song Phoebe's spent the whole episode working on!
If only Chelsea Handler's fame had arrived a few years earlier. (Or never.)
- The One With The Monkey (S01.E10)
The first holiday episode is really more of a New Year's story, but there's some good Christmas business in there too.
Joey's been busted down to elf after having played Santa the previous year because "the store manager's sleeping with some fat guy....He's not even jolly! It's all political."
- The One Where Rachel Quits (S03.E10)
Though Ross's storyline is tangentially Christmas-related -- after accidentally injuring a
Girl ScoutBrown Bird (played by a wee Mae Whitman!), he tries to help her win a trip to Space Camp by selling Christmas cookies -- Mint Treasures, Hanukkah Menoreos, etc. -- on her behalf. But the real holiday story involves Phoebe and Joey, who have one of their rare clashes when she has to face the dark side of his seasonal job selling Christmas trees...but it ends well.
You know Monica's a good friend because she let this surprise happen even though you know she was cleaning up dead needles for weeks.
- The One With The Routine (S06.E10)
This is sort of a cheat because while it does take place in the run up to Christmas and includes a Christmas B-plot -- Rachel and Phoebe convincing Chandler to join them in their annual search for Monica's hidden Christmas gifts -- the best part is New Year's Eve-related, as Monica and Ross get to be party people on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve (apparently known in Australia as Dickin' Rockin' Dickie Eve, or at least that's what Janine thinks it's called). However: you can't watch this and tell me it's not the best.
Dickin' Rockin' Dickie indeed. May we all ring in 2017 with this much joy and hope and sweaty desperation.