Lovers of warm weather, rejoice, for Winter has come and gone and Summer is well on its way. So, what better way to celebrate the return of the sunshine than to sit inside and bingewatch your favourite TV programmes? The esteemed writers and editors of The Edge have got your back, with our picks for the Definitive (TM) list of the best ‘Beach Episodes’ on TV!
Brooklyn Nine–Nine – ‘Beach House’
Disclaimer: ‘Beach House’ doesn’t technically take place in summer, but that’s just because Charles only got the house during the winter in his divorce. In any case, I’m still counting it as a beach episode. In this classic we see the world’s favourite NYPD precinct let loose on their detectives-only getaway. That is, until they are surprised by the arrival of Captain Holt. This episode takes all our favourites out of the precinct for a while, and even introduces a brand-new character: the enigmatic Six-Drink Amy. The best moment is undoubtedly Gina on the freezing beach, yelling her thanks to ‘Poseidon, great god of the sea’ (a scene we should all aim to re-enact this summer). From Hitchcock and Scully trying to sell their underwater casino scheme, to Holt’s attempts to fit in with his tipsy subordinates, this makes for one of the greatest episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that we’ve seen.
Gavin & Stacey – ‘Season 3, Episode 5’
It seems hard to believe these days, but long before James Corden was driving celebrities around in a fancy car in Los Angeles, he was stuck in a rubber ring on Barry Island beach. In the penultimate episode of this cult classic comedy, the Pam, Mick and Smithy head to Wales and try to make the most of the rare sunshine with a classic British day out: a day at the beach and then a barbecue in the garden. This episode has so many now iconic Gavin & Stacey moments, including Nessa describing the difference between Obama and Osama to Neil the baby, and a group singalong to The Smiths with Doris on the guitar (because nothing screams summer more than There Is A Light That Never Goes Out). After all these years, this is still a laugh-out-loud episode that makes you want to grab your suncream and head down to the beach cafe for a can of Irn-Bru.
Friends – ‘The One At The Beach’
The finale of Friends’ third season, which, unsurprisingly given the title – takes place at the beach – is pretty underrated. Personally, this has never been one of my favourite episodes of the show; and yet so much happens. Whilst the Friends are spending a weekend at a beach house, not only does Phoebe meet her real mother, but another important milestone of the Rachel and Ross saga takes place: will Ross choose between Rachel or his current, now-bald girlfriend Bonnie at the end of the episode? (Obviously he chooses Rachel, but we don’t find that out until Season Four, resulting in a huge cliff-hanger). Alongside all of this, we are introduced to the joys of ‘Strip Happy Days Game’, we see what Joey would look like as a mermaid, and Chandler tries to prove to Monica that he’d make a good boyfriend – she may not believe it now, but she will two seasons down the line. Clearly the writers believe that anything can happen when you leave your boring apartment for the beach, and whether this is one of your favourite episodes or not, it’ll leave you feeling ready to hit the beach yourself this summer (just ignore the part of the episode where it rains… a lot).
The Sinner – ‘Season 1, Part I’
It all starts on a beach. There are families, teens and couples laughing, playing, eating, chilling out and listening to music on the sandy strip. Some are venturing into the water for a swim, including Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel), while her husband Mason (played by Christopher Abbott, AKA the American Kit Harrington) and young son hang back on the shore. And that’s about as much I can say without spoiling the most explosive first episode of a season that I’ve ever seen. If you watch Part I of The Sinner, you are guaranteed to watch it all. And that’s without telling you who else is in it – aside from the fabulous Jessica Biel – with 90s heartthrob Bill Pullman playing Detective Harry Ambrose. This Netflix crime drama is a real hidden gem, with a compelling storyline that just won’t let you quit and characters so deeply complex and intriguing that you can’t help but fall in love with them all. After watching the episode, maybe hold off on going to the beach.
SpongeBob Squarepants – ‘Ripped Pants’
Despite being set under the surface of the ocean, Spongebob has no shortage of episodes set in Bikini Bottom’s resident seaside, Goo Lagoon. However, there are none so iconic as ‘Ripped Pants’, an epic tragicomedy that plays out in three acts. When SpongeBob fails to attract the attention of any of his fellow beachgoers, and uber-Chad Larry the Lobster flexes him into oblivion, he accidentally stumbles upon a remarkable epiphany – the awe-inspiring sight of him ripping his trunks in front of an audience. Quickly losing himself to the fame, SpongeBob becomes ‘the biggest loser on the beach’ when a prank about drowning is met with disgust. However, with the help of some fellow beach rejects, he yeets his way back to the top with a beautifully-bombastic ballad, ‘When I Ripped My Pants’. An inspiring tale of hubris, pain and redemption, this episode has been seared onto the minds of viewers just as powerfully as that one fish’s awful sunburn.