The 4th of July is a day when barbeque, fireworks, and entertainment collide. The media landscape is laden with Independence Day celebrations, and if you’re intent on vegging out during the holiday, here are four television episodes and four films that are sure to bring out your patriotic side.
1. Born Again on the Fourth of July (King of the Hill, 2009): Bobby Hill (Pamela Adlon) is a boy on a mission to find himself and where he stands in the world. The episode “Born Again on the Fourth of July” is no exception. After attending an evangelical church, Bobby becomes an extreme Born Again Christian and destroys his father‘s huge Uncle Sam decoration, thinking it’s a graven image. However, Hank thinks the people who live on neighboring Milton Street are the vandals and declares war. This is a great episode for celebrating Independence Day not only because the neighborhood war acts as a mini-Revolutionary War, but because Bobby’s innocent search for personal truth is as humorous as it is precious.
2. Independence Day (1996): Directed by Roland Emmerich, “Independence Day” stars Will Smith as the Air Force Captain Steven Hiller who, along with the help of the brainy David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), defeats the alien invaders who plan on harvesting the natural resources of the earth. The film is one of Emmerich’s most successful films, especially with the huge marketing campaign involving Super Bowl XXX, Apple, Inc. and Coca-Cola, among other companies and the fake alien invasion newscast that actually scared some viewers into calling 911. However, while there are constant talks of a sequel, a script just can’t seem to come together. Until Smith and Goldblum jump back into an alien ship, however, many people will continue to see “Independence Day” as required 4th of July viewing.
3. Fourth of July (Saved by the Bell, 1991): If you grew up with “Saved by the Bell,” you might remember this Independence Day themed episode fondly. In “Fourth of July,” Bayside’s beach club is holding their annual beauty pageant and, as what usually happens in a “Saved by the Bell” episode, Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) gets in a jam. In this case, Zack has to decide just who to vote for after promising his vote to several of the contestants. For those who love their ‘90s childhood, this episode is a great way to relive those memories while celebrating the holiday.
4. Intrigue (Revenge, 2011): If fireworks don’t present enough drama for your 4th of July celebration, you might want to take a look at episode six of “Revenge.” The episode revolves around the annual Grayson 4th of July party, where an incriminating surveillance video comes into play and not only destroys the trust the Grayson’s have with head of security, Frank (Max Martini), but also threatens the relationship between Emily (Emily VanCamp) and Nolan (Gabriel Mann). If you love soap operas with your barbeque, this is the episode for you.
5. American Dream Factory (American Dad, 2007): Independence Day and politically-incorrect comedy collide in the “American Dad” episode “American Dream Factory.” In the episode, Stan (Seth MacFarlane) decides to make his own line of holiday-themed teddy bears called “Cele-Bear-tions.” When he finds out he can’t make enough bears in time for holidays, he hires Paco to help with production. Eventually, he gets a huge 4th of July order, and hires Paco’s whole family. It’s only when the INS is about to bust him that he makes up the cover that Paco and his family are part of his son’s band, who are supposed to play at the Langley 4th of July Festival. Feeling uncomfortable during Independence Day has never been funnier.
6. 1776 (1972): Generally, musicals don’t come with a history lesson, but the film adaptation of the Broadway musical “1776,” starring William Daniels, Ken Howard and Howard Da Silva, tells the story of the beginning of the United States through festive song-and-dance numbers. Is it a little weird? Yes, but it also captures the fun and pomp that’s a part of every Independence Day celebration.
7. The First Fourth of July (Liberty’s Kids: Est. 1776, 2000): If you want your kids to learn about the meaning behind the 4th of July, this episode of “Liberty’s Kids: Est. 1776” will be sure to educate as well as entertain. “The First Fourth of July,” has a ton of guest stars. The list includes Billy Crystal as John Adams, Walter Cronkite as Benjamin Franklin, and Whoopi Goldberg as Deborah Samson, a woman who, with her male persona Robert Shurtleff, served in the Continental Army. If you didn’t know that tidbit until reading this, “The First Fourth of July” film is already teaching you about history.
8. National Treasure (2004): Nicolas Cage stars in this chaste Disney take on “The DaVinci Code,” with The Declaration of Independence and American Freemasons at the center of conspiracies instead of DaVinci’s “The Vitruvian Man” and Christianity. Even though Cage fans thought the actor and his now-infamous hairpiece was becoming too cheesy, families seemed to love it. The National Archives also seemed to love it, evidenced by their creation of a site based around the film called “Our National Treasure.” Disney kept with the conspiracy trend and made a 2007 sequel called “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” and domain names for third and fourth entries into the “National Treasure” saga have already been bought.
Which episode or movie is your favorite way to celebrate the 4th of July?
This guest post is by Edwin, a writer and content specialist for USDish.