The Simpsons is an iconic sitcom, and in my opinion the greatest show of all time. Since Futurama was also created by Matt Groening, it’s destined to live in the shadow of The Simpsons. That’s a shame in some ways, because, to me, Futurama is the second-best show ever. If you aren’t familiar with the premise, a slacker delivery boy from 1999 New York City, Philip J. Fry, is frozen and wakes up on New Year’s Eve of 2999. It’s a sci-fi comedy loaded with a bunch of tremendous jokes, and also it has a vastly inventive world. After all, anything is possible in 2999.
This includes Christmas, or Xmas as it is known in the world of the future. Would you believe that the Xmas of the future is not exactly a holiday that is celebrated and beloved? Futurama, like a lot of sci-fi, has some cynicism and dystopian vibes in it, and that includes in the holiday season. This is best exemplified by Santa Claus, who is very real in the world of tomorrow. Also, he’s a robot. Also, he judges everybody as being guilty and tries to murder them. Yeah, it’s a tough break.
We see Santa twice during the show’s initial run on FOX. Both episodes are really good, perhaps even great, if I dare to be so bold. The first time Fry is getting acclimated to the Xmas of the future, which involves a weird amount of nudity, and that includes finding out about Santa, who shows up (voiced by John Goodman) to judge everybody as naughty. Except Dr. Zoidberg, a delightful little joke. The day is saved, though a squawking bird does get hit by a missile.
The second Xmas episode brings another robot into the mix, Bender, perhaps Futurama’s greatest character. Usually, he’s the most amoral robot around, but that’s not the case when Santa is involved. In “A Tale of Two Santas,” though, Bender takes on the mantle, but he tries to do it in a not evil way. However, since people have learned to fear Santa, they attack him, even though he comes bearing Triominos (a reference that I enjoy more and more as it gets increasingly dated). Bender is arrested for being Santa. He is almost executed. Zoidberg dresses as Jesus. In the end, Bender and Santa wreak havoc. This is where the episode ends. With chaos reigning on Christmas and Santa’s menacing laugh.
If you want a decidedly darker, stranger take on Christmas, or rather Xmas, you definitely need to take the Futurama plunge. It’s a world where the idea of Santa seeing you when you’re sleeping is even more disconcerting.