TV Sitcoms for the Holidays

Roseanne white trash christmas santa 2877794

“We’re not doing this for tips.  We are degrading ourselves for the sheer holiday joy of it,” says Roseanne in the ’90s sitcom, Roseanne (Season 6, Episode 12, 1993), in defense of the family’s tacky outdoor Christmas decorations.

When the  neighborhood association singles them out and asks them to tone their display down, they decide, as Roseanne ironically says, to “go for the national title” of tackiness.  Dan (John Goodman)  finds  two mangers, and Roseanne says, “Dueling Saviors–hoo ha!”

Gotta love it. And it is such a joy after watching the frenetic, saccharine Christmas episodes of today’s family sticoms.

The Middle, a pretty good sitcom about a working-class family, can’t compete with Roseanne.  Why?  It’s just no longer real.  This is the seventh season, and the writers are having trouble tying up the plot with a bow.

Tonight, the colorful Heck family missed a Christmas Eve church service because  (a) the clocks are all wrong, (b) Frankie (Patricia Heaton), the mother of the family, can’t get it together, and (c) she decides they will  watch church on TV instead.   The children are reluctant, Frankie asks them to be quiet during “church,” then, during the commercial, daughter Sue asks them  to wear Santa hats in bed  for a Christmas picture (why bed?),  then she accidentally deletes the whole family album on the computer, and then Frankie lies down on the floor and cries and kicks her heels…

Work with me here. What the f…?

Bev (Wendi McClenden-Covery) onf The Goldbergs"

Bev (Wendi McClenden-Covey) on The Goldbergs”

The Goldbergs, a sitcom set in the ’80s, was a tad better.  For one thing, the Goldbergs are Jewish. For another thing, Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Murray (Jeff Garlin) are the most outrageously funny parents on TV.

Bev, who is the ultimate iconic Jewish mother, decides to create a holiday called Super Hanukkah, which is basically a rip-off of Christmas, because her children aren’t on board for Hanukkah, eight nights of presents like underpants.  Now there are lots of decorations, a Hanukkah bush (suspiciously like a Christmas tree), and great presents.  Everybody is happy.

Until Bev’s dad, “Pops” (Geroge Segal), shames them for not honoring Hanukkah. And, wow, he is intense (I’ve never seen that side of him).  Soon Bev is in tears.  Poor Bev!  She didn’t deserve that!  The family was happily hanging out together.

In tonight’s episode there is also a riff on the movie A Christmas Story, but it isn’t as funny as the Super Hanukkah stuff. It’s apparently hell on TV writers to weave the different skits together.

So I’m sticking with Roseanne.  I know all about “White Trash Christmases.”  Believe me, I’ve spent Christmas in a lot of different places.