Why We Hunger for the Holiday Special

Every December, an Age-Old Format Warms the Winter Night

’Tis the season.

The season for television shows to chug too much eggnog, forget their earthly cares for an hour or so, and jump the proverbial yuletide shark.

The result, whether it’s treacly sweet, outrageously theatric, or capable of bringing an audience to tears, comes like clockwork each December, when—for good or bad—television cuts away from its regularly scheduled programming to tap into the spirit of the season.

I’m talking stars. I’m talking spectacle. I’m talking, more than likely, somebody dressing up as Santa.

I’m talking, if it’s not clear, about the holiday special.

I …

My Year of Sitcoms

It’s Easy to Be Seduced by the Rosy Glow of These Syndicated Fictions—But They Channel a Reality That Never Really Existed

It didn’t start out intentionally. A little 30 Rock to help me get out of bed in the morning. Some New Girl with dinner. A nightcap of Frasier (as others …