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Today In TV History

Today in TV History: ‘The Office’ Immortalized the Holiday Horror of a Yankee Swap

Where to Stream

The Office

Of all the great things about television, the greatest is that it’s on every single day. TV history is being made, day in and day out, in ways big and small. In an effort to better appreciate this history, we’re taking a look back, every day, at one particular TV milestone. 

IMPORTANT DATE IN TV HISTORY: December 6, 2005

PROGRAM ORIGINALLY AIRED ON THIS DATE: The Office (U.S.), “Christmas Party” (Season 2, Episode 10). [Watch on Netflix]

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: The second season of The Office was a tour-de-force of outstanding American comedy. Not least because the first season was pretty underwhelming, and TV shows don’t always get the chance of a second season to improve. “Christmas Party” comes smack in the middle of a sterling run of episodes that included “The Dundies,” “Office Olympics,” “Booze Cruise,” and “The Injury.” If you made a list of the top ten episodes of The Office, a good six of them would probably be from season 2.

“Christmas Party” may well be one of those episodes. It features everything about the second season of The Office that was wonderful. Michael allowed his overweaning need to please (and his man-crush on office-temp Ryan) to lead him to incredibly tone-deaf and over-sensitive behavior, then allowed his childishness to lead to turning the agreed-upon Secret Santa into a Yankee Swap just so he could get a better present. There are some great Angela-as-party-planner moments. And of course, the Jim-and-Pam stuff is utterly heart-wrenching. This was the sweet spot for Jim and Pam, when the show was still working off the U.K. template and keeping the two star-crossed co-workers in a state of suspended longing.

In the U.K. series, the Christmas Special was when Tim and Dawn finally kissed. Not so this time, despite Jim’s sweet and thoughtful Christmas present. The U.S. audience would have to wait another dozen episodes for that first kiss. And even longer for Jim and Pam to get together for good. But “Christmas Party” was the show at its daggers-to-the-heart best.

[You can watch The Office‘s “Christmas Party” on Netflix.]

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