Birthdays are generally a time for celebration, presents, cake and all those other festive trappings. There are the milestone birthdays that mean you can drive or legally drink or even magically turn into an adult (Hi 30!), as well as those where you’re just happy to see another year.
With my own 26th birthday coming up – I’m not quite at the point in my life where I lie about my age – I decided to celebrate the successful completion of 365 days by recalling my favorite birthday-themed TV episodes. Some made me cry, a few made me laugh, while several of these aren’t more than a year old so it’s too soon to wax nostalgic over them just yet.
Best Birthday Episodes…Ever (in order of birthday character’s age)
Rubber Band Ball – Parenthood (S1Ep8)
Jabbar has a birthday party that’s heavy on the familial tension. I’m sure I had an awkward moment or two at one of my childhood birthday parties, but similar to Jabbar and other little kids at that age, if wasn’t toys and/or cake it happily went unnoticed.
Best Quote: “Amber is from a broken home. She doesn’t know a real relationship from a sandwich yet.”
Stark Raving Dad – The Simpsons (S3Ep1)
Simpsons never age, so arbitrary nature of her birthday aside, it was cute seeing Bart try to do something nice for his little sister. But try as I might, I could never make my name casually slide into the “Happy Birthday Lisa” song.
Best Quote: “Things change when you hit the big 1-O. Your legs start to go, candy doesn’t taste as good anymore.”
The Aftermath – Saved by the Bell (S3Ep3)
Although it was Lisa’s Sweet 16, the majority of this episode was focused on the legendary Kelly-Zack-Jeff love triangle. I never understood why Lisa was so rich and stylish, yet had such a milestone birthday party at her house.
Best Quote: “Honey, if I were Kelly, you’d still be pulling a hairbrush out of your ear, now don’t get me started.”
Surprise/Innocence – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (S2Ep13+14)
Buffy never had especially enjoyable birthday celebrations and this was the episode where it all started. Teenage heartbreak is painful enough, but imagine the guy you love and passionately give your virginity to turning into a monster…literally. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only girl that asked her boyfriend for a Claddagh ring after seeing this episode.
Best Quote: (Xander) “You coulda just said, ‘shh!’ God, are all you Brits such drama queens? Buffy, I feel a pre-birthday spanking coming on.” (Jenny) “I’d curb that impulse if I were you, Xander.”
Mixology Certification – Community (S2Ep10)
This was the episode when Troy realized that turning 21 doesn’t mean you’re a grown-up who is immune to being an idiot. We also saw the serious side of this character expertly played by Mr. Donald Glover. I’d have preferred Troy’s birthday filled with childlike merriment, there’s plenty of time for the disenchantment of being an adult.
Best Quote: “Hello during a random dessert, the month and day of which coincide numerically from your expulsion from a uterus.”
The Agony and the ‘Ex’tacy – Sex and the City (S4Ep49)
Carrie turns 35…alone. It was pretty depressing watching the usually fabulous Ms. Bradshaw have such a lackluster birthday, but it also brought some realism to what your 30s are like if rom-coms and Cosmo are any indication. Big capped off Carrie’s birthday evening with red balloons and champagne, which was simple yet romantic…classic Big.
Best Quote: “No special guy to wish me happy birthday. No goddamn soulmate. And I don’t even know if I believe in soulmates.”
Cliff’s Birthday – The Cosby Show (S1Ep24)
Clair was the perfect wife and Cliff was the (very) deserving husband. On his birthday she did what any fictional, ridiculously upper-middle class wife does for her husband and got him a personalized birthday performance by Lena Horne. These two were always so cute because although Cliff was the man of the house, Clair ran the show.
Best Quote: “The joy of a birthday, is finding out what the present is, before one gets it. And you know I always do.”