Sure, spending Thanksgiving around a giant table with your closest friends and family and gorging yourself on unreasonable portions of dead bird, stuffing, noodles, mashed potatoes and cranberry is lovely, but wouldn’t you rather celebrate such a holiday with a group of strangers? Especially when those strangers have glib conversations with one another, exchanging witty one liners as they pass around platters of beautifully prepared traditional foods, and whose dysfunction is merely a means to a comical end, instead of the a fuel of awkwardness that makes everyone at the table wish they had eaten someplace else. I mean, if your grandmother falls piss drunk, face first into a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy, it’s time to stage an intervention, but if it happens on TV, you’ll probably find yourself wishing your family were as festive and fun-loving! So now, as you think back on the wonderful day that was your family Thanksgiving, reeling from your tryptophan hangover, check out the following, my favorite Television Thanksgivings:
5. 3rd Rock From the Sun – “Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick” – November 24, 1996 – (2×10)
I suppose if you were an alien, the concept of Thanksgiving would seem rather absurd. Such is the basis for the Thanksgiving episode of this somewhat forgetable sitcom. When the Solomons notice that everyone around them is hoarding food for some elusive event in the near future, they rightfully assume that the apocalypse is coming. Still, in an effort to appear, in the know, they decide to host their own Thanksgiving dinner with the help of their earthling friends. Hilary ensues, sort of.
4. Roseanne – “We Gather Together” – November 21, 1989 – (2×9)
Well, no list of favorite holiday episodes would be complete without mentioning Roseanne (I might love this show a little too much). I’m going to be honest though, the Thanksgiving episodes all sort of blend together. The Conners are a family’s family so spending 22 minutes at their holiday table, is pretty similar to real life, except that I can turn it off when things get iffy. In this, the show’s first Thanksgiving episode, Jackie and Bev are the main event, bitching and fighting all day long about the series of unfortunate events that is Jackie’s life. Bev: So you didn’t invite anyone? Jackie: Uhh, no, you know me, Mom, all my boyfriends like to spend Thanksgiving with their wives! Meanwhile, Roseanne’s been up since the ass crack of down “stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird’s butt,” all so I have something to laugh at for the rest of my life.
3. Full House – “The Miracle of Thanksgiving” – November 20, 1987 – (1×9)
Oh lord, how about you take this opportunity of a holiday special to make be roll around on the floor bawling like a baby. I GET IT JEFF FRANKLIN! PAM TANNER IS DEAD AND NOW HOLIDAYS ARE UNBEARABLE! Leave my heartstrings alone already. Oof. So it’s the first Thanksgiving at the Tanner house since mother Pam’s untimely death, so little D.J. (seriously “little,” she’s like 10) takes it upon herself to prepare a traditional feast for her new “blended” family. NOTHING goes right, the bird is all burnt, Steph drops a pie and worst of all, D.J. is forced to dress like Laura Ingalls. Oh and what you might ask is most sad about this? How about the part where Uncle Jesse takes the girls up to his room to look at photos of their mother and then Danny “forgot how much the girls looked like Pam.” I surrender, bring me some tissues.
2. The Wonder Years – “The Ties That Bind” – November 14, 1990 – (4×7)
Be careful, this one will get ya! Oh, but what episode of The Wonders Years DOESN’T leave me an emotional wreck? Things are getting pretty tight at the Arnold house, and when the stove eats it, it looks like it’s going to be Thanksgiving at the soup kitchen. But then, right in the nick of time Jack gets a promotion at work! It’s going to be a wonderful holiday after all. Oh wait, NO! His new job means that he’s going to have to travel, and miss his family Thanksgiving. Looks like that new job was a double edged sword there Mr. Arnold, as well as a reminder that sometimes things aren’t better on television. It also begs the question, “Why can’t you just eat the Turkey on say, Saturday?” Oh right, because then I wouldn’t be upset for 45 minutes wondering if Jack will make it to his family Thanksgiving or not, whilst simultaneously ignoring my OWN family in order to watch television. If only MY life were narrated. . .
1. Friends – “The One with the Football” – November 21, 1996 – (3×9)
Friends really outdid themselves when it came to Thanksgiving, and this episode just happens to be my favorite. It’s possibly because we finally get the gang outside of the confines of their apartments or Central Perk and into “the city,” which is quite clearly a patch of grass inside a studio. Or it COULD be because of a wonderful prop called the Gellar Cup, which is, as one of the friends so aptly described, “a troll doll nailed to a two by four.” While Monica cooks, the gang watches football on television, which leads to an impromptu touch football game in the park, where competition is FIERCE. Also, Phoebe is donning a That Girl shirt, and though that has NO bearing on, well, anything, I still felt like mentioning it because I’ve so oft wondered where she got it and why she owned it. Think about it, she was a homeless teenager, when would she have had time to watch That Girl?