One of my favorite traditions each season is to watch holiday TV episodes. Some series made multiple holiday episodes (Thanksgiving with FRIENDS or Halloween with BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, anyone?) — but these were usually created by the now-fading 23-episode September through May seasons, leaving out summer holidays like the 4th of July.
For TV watchers, these kinds of episodes make great standalone viewing experiences — and for us writers, they can be inspiration for writing spec scripts!
Here’s a list of series with festive episodes to enjoy this 4th of July.
BROAD CITY: Season 2 Episode 7, “Citizen Ship”
In BROAD CITY’S second season, Jaime becomes an American citizen — something most of us are born with and take for granted. For people who apply and go through the effort to become American citizens, it’s a special achievement that can mean freedom and possibilities.
To celebrate, Abbi, Ilana, Lincoln, and Jaime head out to party on a boat. Things get weird. It’s glorious and it should get you in the party spirit.
THE SIMPSONS: Season 7 Episode 25, “Summer of 4 Ft. 2”
What is summer vacation if not wistful expectations, scary carnivals, new friends, and “[celebrating] the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it?”
In this episode, Bart sabotages Lisa’s newfound popularity and puts friendship to the test while Homer goes on a hunt for some illegal fireworks. ‘Murica!
PORTLANDIA: Season 5 Episode 5, “4th of July BBQs”
In this 4th of July themed episode, Kath and Dave attempt to host the greatest 4th of July BBQ ever by hiring a party planner played by the incomparable Jane Lynch. Meanwhile, the mayor searches for black market fireworks on the deep web.
THE WEST WING: Season 5 Episode 3, “Jefferson Lives”
The West Wing itself is a patriotic series that portrays America from a hopeful lens, critiquing her weakness at times but ever upholding her values and promise. This show will pull at your patriotic heartstrings — but one episode, in particular, celebrates America’s independence.
In “Jefferson Lives,” the Bartlet administration must nominate a new Vice President. “Ben Franklin thought the only hope for democracy was that people respected each other enough to compromise,” muses Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet.
In the final moments, the episode will offer up the Pledge of Allegiance and a 4th of July fireworks celebration to soften the reminder that democracy isn’t easily won.
If you’re going for sheer nostalgia, check out SAVED BY THE BELL’S “Fourth of July” from season 4. Zack judges a 4th of July pageant while Slater oversees games and competitions. It’s a red, white, and blue spectacular that won’t give you any stress!
No matter what you do this 4th of July, remember to take a moment and give thanks for the hard-won freedoms we enjoy. Happy 4th!
All this talk of fireworks and independence got you inspired to write a pilot? Enter it into the WeScreenplay TV Pilot Screenwriting Competition!
Shannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!