The Best TV Episodes to Stream on July 4th (And Where to Watch Them)
After a day out in the sun, there’s often no better way to relax on the Fourth of July than by watching some TV. Primarily, the airwaves today tend to be full of movies like Independence Day and Jaws.
But what if you don’t want to commit to a full two-hour film? What if you just want to spend a half-hour or so with some of your favorite TV characters? Luckily, there are a bunch of classic episodes that will help you commemorate the nation’s birthday, and all of them are available to stream in some fashion.
Here’s a look at some of the best TV episodes to watch on the Fourth of July.
“Summer of 4 Ft. 2” — The Simpsons (Season 7, Episode 25)
Not only is this a great episode to watch on the Fourth of July, but it also happens to be one of The Simpsons‘ very best episodes, period.
In “Summer of 4 Ft. 2,” the Simpsons take a vacation to Ned Flanders’ beach house for Independence Day. The episode primarily focuses on Lisa, who realizes how unpopular she is and sets out to make friends. If you’ve ever struggled to fit in with a new group of people, you’ll find this episode painfully relatable, and it’s one of the greatest Lisa-centric stories ever.
It’s also just a hilarious episode in general, with one subplot involving Homer’s misadventures with fireworks. Basically, “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” is everything you could ask for from a Simpsons Independence Day episode.
The most convenient way to watch The Simpsons is through FX’s “Simpsons World” app, although you’ll need a cable login for that. If you don’t have cable, you could also buy the individual episode on Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes for $1.99.
“Jefferson Lives” — The West Wing (Season 5, Episode 3)
If you’re looking for something a bit more patriotic, there are few better shows for that than The West Wing, and it just so happens that the classic political drama has an episode centered around the Fourth of July.
It’s called “Jefferson Lives” from Season 5, and the main plot revolves around the Bartlet Administration nominating a new vice president. The Independence Day elements are fairly minor, but they’re definitely in there; it even concludes with a dazzling fireworks show.
Basically any episode of The West Wing would be appropriate for a July 4th rewatch, but this one especially so. The West Wing is available to stream on Netflix.
“Fourth of July” — Saved by the Bell (Season 4, Episode 6)
In this episode from Saved by the Bell‘s third season, Zack is selected to be one of the judges of an annual Fourth of July beauty pageant at Malibu Sands.
Meanwhile, Slater oversees the Fourth of July games, which include an obstacle course and wheelbarrow race. It’s not necessarily the greatest Saved by the Bell episode of all time, but if you’re looking for a quick, light Fourth of July sitcom outing with beach games and fireworks, this one will get the job done.
Saved by the Bell is available to stream on Hulu. (Note: Hulu counts Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the predecessor to Saved by the Bell, as the show’s first season. Therefore, although “Fourth of July” is actually the sixth episode of Season 3, on Hulu, Season 3 is considered to be Season 4.)
“Beach Games” — The Office (Season 3, Episode 23)
The Office never did an episode centered around the Fourth of July, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a great one to rewatch today. There’s “Beach Games” from near the end of the third season.
In this episode, Michael Scott takes the entire office (except for Toby) to the beach for what they think will be a relaxing day, but in reality, he plans to run them through a series of tests to determine who should become the new branch manager.
It has that summer vibe you’re looking for in a Fourth of July episode, complete with one of the greatest Kevin quotes of all time: “I just want to lie on the beach and eat hot dogs. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.” The Office is available to stream on Netflix.
“The Serenity Now” — Seinfeld (Season 9, Episode 3)
If you haven’t seen Seinfeld‘s “The Serenity Now” in a while, you might be confused about how this relates to the Fourth of July.
Well, it’s a pretty loose connection, but it comes down the Kramer plot, in which he decides to make the outside of his apartment look like the front porch of Anytown, USA. This comes complete with lawn chairs, a grill, and an American flag.
Just for the image of Kramer sitting in a lawn chair holding a sparkler with the American flag behind him, “The Serenity Now” is worth rewatching today. Seinfeld is available to stream on Hulu.
“4th of July BBQs” — Portlandia (Season 5, Episode 5)
Getting back to episodes that revolve around Independence Day itself, there’s Portlandia‘s “4th of July BBQs” from the fifth season. This is a pretty recent episode, which first aired in 2015.
In it, Kath and Dave hope to host the best Fourth of July barbeque ever, and so they hire an expert planner, played by Jane Lynch.
Weirdly, this episode originally aired in February, so it’s actually much more appropriate today than when it was broadcast. Portlandia is available to stream on Netflix.
“Ms. Knope Goes to Washington” — Parks and Recreation (Season 5, Episode 1)
One would assume that a show all about government featuring such patriotic characters would have an Independence Day episode, but Parks and Recreation doesn’t.
However, like The West Wing, you could basically watch any episode of the series on July 4th and it would feel appropriate. Our recommendation would be “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington” from Season 5. In this one, Leslie and Andy head down to Washington, D.C., while back in Pawnee, Ron Swanson hosts a summer barbecue.
Although it’s not directly related to Independence Day, one of the episode’s subplots is all about American history and government, while the other is all about a summer barbecue, making it fairly perfect for rewatching today.
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