Christmas Episodes From The Groovy Era

By | November 22, 2018

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Happy Days: “Guess Who’s Coming To Christmas”

With Christmas music starting the day after Halloween and retail giants having their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, it can be quite easy to become overwhelmed by the materialism of the holidays. A great way to counteract that is to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and watch Christmas episodes from classic sitcoms of the Groovy Era, which serve as a reminder of what is really important during the holiday season.

Happy Days was a 1970s sitcom about life in the 1950s, which starred Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, among others. The series follows the unlikely friendship between all-American Richie Cunningham and the much edgier Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli. The season two episode, “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas,” marks the final appearance of Richie’s older brother, Chuck Cunningham, who is never even mentioned again. No explanation was ever given for the character’s disappearance, though it was likely because “Fonzi” was filling the role of big brother to Richie, thus making the character of Chuck superfluous.

 In any case, the term “Chuck Cunningham Syndrome” is now used to describe a situation in which an established character disappears from a show without his or her absence being acknowledged by the remaining characters. But the real takeaway from this episode is the conflict. Richie’s father, Howard, wants to spend Christmas Eve with just his family and no one else. But Richie realizes that Fonzi is alone for the holiday and convinces a reluctant Howard to invite him to stay with them. At first, Fonzi is too proud to admit he has nowhere to go and Howard is forced to overcome his own reluctance to convince him to stay. This episode serves as a reminder that family is more than just blood and there should always be room at the table for a friend in need. 

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The Carol Burnett Show: “Merry Christmas Mama”

Before there was Mama’s Family in the 1980s, there was a sketch on The Carol Burnett Show in the 1970s called “The Family.” The sketch featured Eunice as the main character and deals with the ongoing conflict among members of her family. It was so successful that it became an ongoing sketch on The Carol Burnett Show before eventually spinning off into its own series, Mama’s Family. The spin-off was initially canceled after two seasons but was revived two years later to run for another four years. The family featured on both the spin-off and the original sketch are far different from the Cunningham's of Happy Days. The Christmas installment, “Merry Christmas Mama,” is a cautionary tale of the ugliness of ingratitude and shows what can happen when too much emphasis is placed on getting gifts.