A Charlie Brown Cash Grab


Charlie Brown and friends sing around the Christmas tree.

“There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”
-Linus Van Pelt

It’s the Great Pumpkin!

The holiday season is upon us, and the Peanuts holiday specials have been a family favorite for over 50 years. While there are 45 official Charlie Brown specials, several unaired, the most famous are the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas episodes. Each special shows how Charlie Brown and his friends spend the holidays, for better or for worse. Their adventures include Trick-or-Treating, bobbing for apples, choosing a Christmas tree, and having a Thanksgiving feast of toast and pretzel sticks, all while enduring the verbal abuse of their friends and siblings. Simpler times.

What makes these specials so… special? Why have they been a beloved household staple for so many years? The answer may lie in the original comic strip. Peanuts is considered one of the most influential comics ever, and for good reason. Charles M. Shulz was able to seamlessly combine the magic and freedom of childhood with the harsh reality of adult life, and the result was a timeless comic strip that resonates with anyone, regardless of age or situation. Though kids are the main audience, there’s no denying that depressing moment when Charlie Brown gets bullied by Lucy for no reason or the frustration that comes when Peppermint Patty yells at him for not preparing a great Thanksgiving dinner at the age of eight. Just about anyone can relate to not feeling good enough, and Charlie Brown is the embodiment of that insecurity.

Sometimes life just pulls the football out from under you.

Every year since the ‘60s, the holiday specials have aired on ABC without fail. That’s why, this year, there has been outrage over the classic specials being made an Apple TV+ exclusive, a streaming service owned by Apple that costs $4.99/month and usually requires an Apple device, smart TV, or streaming device to use. The hypocrisy of this decision has caused many to chastise Apple for taking away access to such classic tales of humanity that are ironically about rejecting materialism in favor of the spirit of the holidays. A large company purchasing the classics goes directly against this message. One Twitter user writes, “It’s like making “It’s A Wonderful Life” a Netflix exclusive […] This kind of commercial greed is a disservice to American traditions and the common good at a time when we need to celebrate more than ever.” While the Charlie Brown holiday specials are nowhere near the most important tradition of the holiday season, there’s no denying the lasting positivity that they bring every year.

The specials will be available for free for a short period of time, however: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will be airing on PBS on December 13.