Category: Holidays

Your Essential Streaming Valentine’s Day Episodes

It’s cold out there, if you’re on the East Coast. People are begging Netflix to release House of Cards early. But if House of Cards isn’t for you (it’s definitely not for me!) and you want to honor the weekend’s holiday, you can’t go wrong with these themed episodes from your favorite shows. (That only one is still airing is incidental.)

I Love Lucy

Episode: “Lucy Plays Cupid” (Season 1, Episode 15)
Watch at: Hulu or


Lucy schemes to set up her older neighbor with the grocer. An awkward love triangle ensues, made worse when Ricky (oh, brother) tries to teach Lucy a lesson. Ricky’s a bad husband, but the match works out in the end.

Parks & Recreation


Episode: “Operation Ann” (Season 4, Episode 14)
Watch At: Netflix

The show that invented a pre-holiday can’t be left out. While Leslie obsesses over finding a mate for Ann, Ben, Andy, and Ron struggle to solve a series of clues. Ann rightly finds Leslie’s second-hand desperation insulting, though it’s a joy to take in Pawnee’s community-thrown couples dance (poorly DJ’d by a very sad Chris). Ron and Ben revel in Ben’s challenge, which is way more fun than the dance, as they interrupt dates at JJ’s Diner and Pawnee’s odd attractions (including the snow globe museum, which is staffed by a disgruntled Martin Starr). It’s too bad that Manentine’s Day is already a thing of its own.

The Simpsons

Episode: “I Love Lisa” (Season 4, Episode 15)
Watch At: Simpsons World via FX Now


There’s more than one Valentine’s Day episodes in The Simpsons oeuvre, but Ralph Wiggum’s declaration of love for Lisa, who pitied him like we pity Charlie Brown, is easily the best of the series. Ralph’s stirring speech during the President’s Day pageant is more moving than a speech from a fictional second-grader has any right to be.

30 Rock

Episodes: “St. Valentine’s Day”/”Anna Howard Shaw Day” (Season 3, Episode 11/Season 4, Episode 13)
Watch At: Netflix (1/2)


In “St. Valentine’s Day,” Liz is foiled on a first date with Jon Hamm’s perfect (and stupid) doctor Drew on Valentine’s Day, while Jack reconciles with Selma Hayek’s Elisa over McFlurries. (“Don’t tell me you’re one of those convenient Catholics who goes to church every Sunday.”) In “Anna Howard Shaw Day” Liz rebels against the holiday, insisting she can do anything a couple can, including getting herself home from a root canal, which she deliberately scheduled for the holiday. Jack, on a date with Avery Jessup, has to carry a very out-of-it Liz home. It’s a balm for anyone rolling their eyes at friends shaking their fist at Valentine’s Day.

Arrested Development

Episode: “Marta Complex” (Season 1, Episode 12)
Watch at: Netflix


Michael’s speech about love causes Marta, G.O.B.’s girlfriend, to fall in love with him and inspires Lindsay to seek a divorce. Good job, Michael.

Happy Endings

Episode: “The St. Valentine’s Day Maxssacre” (Season 2, Episode 23)
Watch at: Hulu


Penny wants to dump her boyfriend, but wants to wait until after the fancy dinner (“for him,” she swears), and convinces Dave that he’s being strung along too, and his foolishness costs him a threesome and his relationship. It’s great to see an acknowledgment of what seventh grade boys and girls have been manipulating for decades: The Break Up Window.

The Twilight Zone

Episode: “From Agnes—With Love” (Season 5, Episode 20)
Watch at: Netflix


A computer programmer trying to use his work machine for offsite tasks (wooing a woman) finds himself foiled when the computer falls in love with him.

8 Alternative Christmas Films

Christmas is soon upon us, and we now find ourselves knee-deep in holiday specials. But if you find The Sound of MusicToy Story, and Harry Potter unfathomable (having a Christmas scene does not a Christmas movie make), ABC Family and Hallmark nauseating (hear, hear!), and the traditional fare boring (looking at you, Die Hard), I have a bevy of weird and alternative titles at the ready.

  • The Silent Partner (1978)
    Elliott Gould tries to stop a bank robbery planned by the mall’s Santa and played by Christopher Plummer. I present a clip below in my effort to make this one in a classic. (Amazon Video)
  • Reindeer Games (2000)
    Dennis Farina, Gary Sinise, Ben Affleck, Isaac Hayes, and Danny Trejo are among the cast in this explosion-filled film featuring a group of santas robbing a casino. (Amazon Video)
  • The Tower (2012)
    I’ll let IMDb handle this one succinctly:”A Christmas Eve party at a luxury residential building takes a horrific turn when a fire breaks out.” (Amazon Video)
  • Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
    In this Finnish film, the true Santa is excavated from his icy grave and proves to be less saintly than believed. (free on Amazon Video with a Tribeca Shortlist subscription)
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1965)
    This science fiction comedy is a classic in its own right, thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Amazon Video, Hulu)
  • Santa Claus (“Santa Claus vs The Devil”) (1959)
    Rated with even less prestige than …the Martians, Santa fights the devil with the aid of the wizard Merlin. (Amazon Video, Internet Archive, and occasionally TCM)
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
    Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer star in this under-the-radar noirish comedy which has since inspired a quiet, cult following and fanfic. RDJ is a petty thief who unwittingly poses as an actor auditioning for a role and is paired with Kilmer’s private investigator as he investigates a possible suicide. (Amazon Video)
  • Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
    The least weird of the bunch, except that it stars Dudley Moore as a kind, then scheming, then conciliatory elf. Nevertheless, my sisters were forced to watch this in the Crying Room of the theater, and never let me forget it, so I would be remiss to leave out my first film.