Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Special Returns to Air After a Very, Very Close Call

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“Now that’s good news,” a co-worker sighed in relief after a colleague shared with us a breaking news headline: “Charlie Brown Specials to Air on TV, After All, in PBS Deal.” Count yourself lucky if you didn’t know that Charlie, Linus, and Lucy were temporarily off of network TV. They’re back to their historic PBS home after Apple TV+ had gained exclusive rights. An outcry grew with petitions gathering more than 263,000 signatures, and Apple backed down. PBS scored the victory, but Apple didn’t lose either. The platforms teamed up to air the specials in partnership “ad-free!” my co-worker boasted.

The broadcast aired yesterday on PBS and streams for free this week on Apple TV+. If you don’t know Charlie Brown or Peanuts, start with the piano soundtrack. A key theme is anti-commercialism, or striking a better balance of consumption and the meanings found beyond products and services. It’s echoed elsewhere in surprising ways during the pandemic, as more big-box retailers revert to staying closed around Thanksgiving Day for safety rather than fueling elbow-jabbing crowds.

The Black Fridayification of Thanksgiving was summed up in a 2015 Mother Jones article that rings ever truer, and a 2017 academic essay by Williams College student Will Abersek, with footnotes and all, that doesn’t fail to mention at the end, “I have written this essay in the style of David Foster Wallace.” Not sure that helps, Will, but your essay is remarkably good. And support for a less-commercial future of Thanksgiving, after the pandemic, is growing.

Share thoughts on Thanksgiving and opinionated takes on Charlie Brown at recharge@motherjones.com, and if you need a boost, the daily blog is here for you.

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