According to Harmon, the showrunners went up to NBC executives and basically said, “Your boss said we should do an animated episode, so we’re gonna take a whack at it.” Not long after, a classic Christmas episode was born. It’s an episode that’s funny, yet dark, yet heartwarming at the same time. Despite being animated, it’s still a far cry from the tone of a “Family Guy” episode, which is usually a lot more aimless with its pacing and a lot more crass with its sense of humor.
Still, the episode’s got a lot in common with the season 9 “Family Guy” Christmas special, “Road to the North Pole.” Just as Abed goes on a journey to the North Pole to find the meaning of Christmas, “Family Guy” has Stewie and Brian travel to the North Pole to find out if Santa actually exists. (Spoiler alert: he does.) The two specials actually aired within a few days of each other, and they each feature multiple musical set-pieces and a surprisingly wholesome ending. They both center around its characters being disillusioned with the magic of Christmas, but rediscovering that magic in the end.
Although most “Community” fans would agree that the six-season live-action sitcom is the superior show to the never-ending “Family Guy,” it seems like the two shows aren’t completely different after all. At the very least, they’ll always have this fun little connection between them. An NBC Chairman’s off-hand reference to “Family Guy” helped “Community” create one of the best Christmas specials ever made, and we should always be thankful for that.