Four Great TV Episodes to Watch on July 4th

By  · Published on July 4th, 2016

4th of July episodes for your day off.

The 4th of July is a widely celebrated, yet rarely depicted event in American culture. Few television shows have Independence Day episodes, especially compared to the number of those with Christmas or Thanksgiving specials. Maybe it’s the nature of the fall to spring show schedule. Maybe it’s the prevalence of airtime-hogging network events. Maybe Hollywood hates America.

Regardless, with the 4th of July on a Monday, you have a day off from work to fill with entertainment goodness. Here are four great Independence Day episodes for you to watch while you’re hiding from the light:

1. “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” – The Simpsons

Available on FXNOW.

What It’s About: The seventh season finale of The Simpsons takes the titular family on vacation to Ned Flanders’ beach house. After a disappointing end of the school year, Lisa decides to adopt a new persona to impress the local rebel youths. Meanwhile, Homer attempts to procure fireworks for an Independence Day beach party.

Why You Should Watch It: This episode is one of the best depictions of Lisa’s character in the series. It takes her from great heights as an overachiever to great depths as an outcast, chronicling her struggle to navigate these extremes. It’s supporting character arcs are stellar as well, with Milhouse shining as a particular highlight. Besides all that, the fireworks purchase scene alone is enough to merit a watch.

2. “4th of July BBQs” – Portlandia

Available on Netflix.

What It’s About: Three parallel storylines focus on the 4th of July in Portland: Kath (Carrie Brownstein) and Dave (Fred Armisen) hire Gerty the Grill Guru (Jane Lynch), who suggests that they throw a “Shitty Punk BBQ”; The Mayor (Kyle MacLachlan) and his assistant dive deep into the dark web in search of fireworks; and Carrie and Fred (also Brownstein and Armisen) endeavor to attend all of their friends’ barbecues on quite a tight schedule.

Why You Should Watch It: Jane Lynch thrives in true Party Down fashion as the barbecue planner. Kyle MacLachlan delivers yet another explosive performance as the Mayor. The party-hopping segment strikes a chord with anyone concerned with their social status, while the punk party serves up the best lampooning of punk culture I’ve seen since Green Room. Just look at those fruit kebab liberty spikes!

3. “Willdependence Day” – Lucas Bros. Moving Co.

Available on Hulu.

What It’s About: Kenny and Keith Lucas voice the show’s eponymous movers, who celebrate the Will Smith-themed “Willdependence Day” with their friend and bar-owner Jerrod (Jerrod Carmichael). That is until their mother (Hannibal Buress) is kidnapped and replaced with a friendlier, light-skinned counterpart. The brothers journey to an alien prison to spring their mom and engage in some Men in Black-inspired antics.

Why You Should Watch It: It’s stoner comedy at its finest. Though it doesn’t have my favorite or my second favorite bit from the series, the episode shines on the strengths of its cast and its references to 90s culture. In addition to the stellar series regulars, the Workaholics boys (Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson) voice three of the Lucas’s teenage alien fanboys. The mother-swapping conceit is a direct reference to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the rest of the episode is littered with references, both overt and obscure, to the Will Smith features that defined a 90s kid’s childhood.

4. “The Stanchurian Candidate” – Gravity Falls

Available on Hulu.

What It’s About: Grunkle Stan (series creator Alex Hirsch) throws his hat into the ring (literally) for the Gravity Falls mayoral election. Dipper and Mabel (Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal) enlist the help of a mind-controlling tie to constrain Stan’s word vomit on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, season one baddie Gideon Gleeful (Thurop Van Orman) schemes to get his father elected into the town’s only political office. Did I mention that the election is decided by the kiss of a freedom eagle?

Why You Should Watch It: As if Gravity Falls being one of the smartest cartoons in recent memory isn’t enough, this episode lambastes American politics in an eerily prescient manner. The town’s citizens prove easy to pander to, even after Stan makes some outrageous comments in the beginning of the episode. Plus, the election creates an opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of show’s background characters, from Tyler Cutebiker (Will Forte) to Tad Strange (Cecil Baldwin). SPOILER WARNING: This episode takes place after a major reveal in the second season. Unlike the other shows in this article, which do not have an overarching plot, watching the preceding episodes of the series before this one is a must.

There we have it, four 4th of July episodes to occupy your work-free schedule. If you have any suggestions for other episodes to watch on the holiday, then feel free to respond below!

Related Topics: