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Merry vs Moody.jpg

What's the Difference Between 'Merry Happy Whatever' and 'The Moodys Christmas'?

By Dan Hamamura | TV | December 6, 2019 |

By Dan Hamamura | TV | December 6, 2019 |

Merry vs Moody.jpg

Ah, the holidays. That special time of year where the television is stocked with specials and movies all built around the season, ready to get you in that festive spirit!

Or at least, you know, help you avoid your family.

This year, however, we’ve got something beyond the seasonal movies involving time travel and knights or Christmas in Hawaii or everything on Kristy’s holiday movie guide, because there are not one, but two limited-series sitcoms about going home for the holidays: Netflix’s Merry Happy Whatever, and Fox’s The Moodys Christmas (A THREE NIGHT EVENT! Which, I’m told, I am legally required to mention along with the title).

But of course, even though some of us want to spend as much time away from loved ones as possible by watching portrayals of other dysfunctional families, nobody wants to waste their time watching the wrong show!

Which is why I’m here, to help you decide between the two shows with your definitive guide to the very many, and very real differences between Merry Happy Whatever and The Moodys Christmas (A THREE NIGHT EVENT!).

Which show should I watch if I only like multi-cam (or single-cam) comedy?

If you prefer your comedies single-cam, then The Moodys Christmas (A THREE NIGHT EVENT!) may be for you. If you like the comfort of a multi-cam show and a laugh track, then you may, in fact, prefer Merry Happy Whatever.

Which show should I watch if I like my TV Dad gruff and portrayed by someone named Dennis?

Turns out, the shows match each other here, as Merry Happy Whatever features Dennis Quaid as family patriarch Don Quinn, while The Moodys Christmas (TWO NIGHTS LEFT IN A THREE NIGHT EVENT!) has Denis Leary playing Moody family head Sean Moody Sr.

(Note: I am aware that Mr. Leary’s first name is n-deficient in comparison to Mr. Quaid’s. However, I have consulted with my legal team and they have determined that the names may be considered “close enough” to make this point. They then sent me an invoice for four hundred dollars.)

What if I want a storyline with a returning family member who is immediately pressured about returning home?

Another tie, although at least only one of them is an artist in the “big city”, as The Moodys Christmas (A THREE NIGHT EVENT BUT ALSO AVAILABLE ON FOX DOT COM AND HULU) features Dan Moody (Francois Arnaud) as a struggling photographer living in New York City, whereas Merry Happy Whatever’s prodigal daughter Emmy Quinn (Bridgit Mendler) works in finance in Los Angeles.

That said, the boyfriend Emmy brings to meet the family, Matt (Brent Morin), is a struggling musician, so both shows have this covered.

Wait a minute. Haven’t Bridgit Mendler and Brent Morin played a couple before?

Good catch! Indeed they have, as they were paired up on the show Undateable.

That’s weird.

Is it any weirder than the fact that Josh Cooke and Jennifer Finnigan played a couple on both Committed and Better With You?

I’ve never heard of those shows.

You haven’t heard of Better With You? It had Joanna Garcia Swisher?


And Committed had Tom Poston! He played a dying clown!

I think you watch too much TV.

No argument from me. But that’s a conversation for another day.

What if I like it when family members are keeping secrets from each other?

If family members keeping secrets is your thing, then neither show will disappoint, as pretty much everyone has some kind of secret, varying from job loss, infidelity, coming out of the closet, pregnancies (planned and surprise), and cancer. So you can’t really go wrong with either one, I suppose.

I notice you didn’t name the shows in that last answer.

Please don’t.


Fine! You can’t go wrong with either Merry Happy Whatever or The Moodys Christmas (A THREE NIGHT EVENT EXCEPT FOX SPLIT THE THREE NIGHTS BETWEEN TWO WEEKS FOR SOME REASON!)

There. Are you happy? What else can I answer for you?

Is there anything different between the two shows?

One is single-cam and one is multi-cam…

You already said that.

Oh, right.

Well, the Quinn family has dad, three daughters, and one son, whereas the Moodys have both parents, two sons, and one daughter?

That’s still five principal characters in both families.

Yeah. And one of the daughters in Merry Happy Whatever has a whole thing about trying to fill their mom’s shoes anyway.

Oh! I know. The Quinns are more family friendly (Don doesn’t even drink), while the Moodys are “edgy”.

Are they really?

No. But they do drink alcohol at least.

How about the other main cast? Anyone else you can point me to that might sway me in one direction or another?

Merry Happy Whatever also stars Ashley Tisdale, Hayes MacArthur, Adam Rose, Elizabeth Ho, and Siobhan Murphy, if any of them move the needle for you. The Moodys Christmas (A THREE NIGHT EVENT! AND A BIT I DEFINITELY REGRET!), meanwhile, also stars Elizabeth Perkins, Chelsey Frei, and Jay Baruchel. So, you know, both shows have people you’ve seen in other things!

Will I get in trouble if my young son/daughter/sibling/cousin/niece/nephew/weird neighbor kid wanders in?

Definitely not with Merry Happy Whatever. As far as The Moodys Christmas (A THREE NIGHT EVENT WHICH HAS NOT YET COMPLETED SO I DO NOT HAVE ALL THE PROPER DATA TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION!), I doubt it.

So the shows are pretty similar.


Are either of them good?

It depends on what you mean by good…

Ugh. Did you enjoy either of them?

I don’t really “enjoy” television anymore…


Well, if I had to choose one, I’d go with Merry Happy Whatever. There isn’t anything particularly surprising or new as far as the storytelling goes, but it’s definitely the kind of show that you can have on in the background as you’re wrapping presents or ignoring questions about your life choices or whatever family traditions you have.

Did you pick that just so you wouldn’t have to do the “Three Night Event!” thing again?

It’s entirely possible.

You’re the worst.

Thank you.

Header Image Source: Netflix/Fox