ABC aired its annual Peanuts special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown on Thursday night, giving viewers not only a chance to have a warm night in to close out the year but also to witness what might be one of the strangest subplots of the entire series of Charlie Brown specials.
Catch “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown” December 26th at 8pm only on ABC! pic.twitter.com/WLrqR3zVJi— PEANUTS (@Snoopy) December 26, 2019
The plot revolves around everybody planning for the big New Year's Eve party except for the titular bald-headed boy. He's too busy focusing on a school assignment that has him reading Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace in its entirety before the end of Christmas break.
The book is a challenge for even the most seasoned reader, so you know it has ti be difficult for a kid that is still in grade school. The difficulty is one of the big reasons why a lot of viewers feel that the assignment is one big joke on our title character.
Happy New Year Charlie Brown is such a great special, it gets no love though. It was so relatable as a kid, watch it now it's on ABC. WATCH IT NOW! pic.twitter.com/zRoOzHk1ao— Tanooki Joe™️ (@TanookiKuribo) December 27, 2019
Another reason is the fact that Charlie Brown is the only character in the Peanuts gang completing the assignment over the break. Instead, they're focusing on the celebrations, the end of the year and the promise of a new one. Either they don't care about the assignment, they have a doom-filled view of the future or they're all part of the joke on Charlie.
"I do wonder if any of the other kids has trouble reading War And Peace like Charlie Brown does in this and they're just hiding it in the open in Happy New Year Charlie Brown," one fan wrote.
"We are watching, "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown," and I have a question. What kind of horrible teacher assigns an eight year old to read "War and Peace," over Winter Break?" another questioned.
"That one was so unfair. How come none of the OTHER kids had to read War & Peace!? The universe hates Charlie Brown," a third wrote.
"Aren't they in first grade? What sadist would assign war and peace to first graders?!" another dropped in, making a good point.
Worse yet, Charlie finishes the book report on War and Peace, ending up with a D-minus for his troubles. That's the real joke, though Charlie is proud of his efforts despite the terrible grade.
And the teacher doesn't make it easy to close out the show, assigning Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky as the next book report. Whatever happened to reading Superfudge?