Five Ways Something Ruined My Life

Five Ways the ‘Friends' Thanksgiving Episodes Ruined My Life

As we’ve discussed, I’ve been a fan of Friends since I first heard The Rembrandts’ “I’ll be There for You.” But one of the staples of Friends is the Thanksgiving episodes.

I don’t know if this was a conscious decision on their part (though I’m assuming yes) to always do a Thanksgiving episode, but I find it to be amazing. What’s great about Thanksgiving episodes rather than Christmas episodes is that…it’s a lot of eating. And hilarious things come out of eating a lot. But something awesome always happened in the Friends Thanksgiving episodes. And the very first one is one of my favorites: Rachel can’t get to Vale, Joey has VD, a parade balloon flew away and that’s how they all ended up having to spend Thanksgiving together. And that was that. Always together, always making me laugh.

One year I got with some “friends” (get it? Like the show?) and watched all of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes and ate different kinds of potatoes (as that is what drives Monica crazy about cooking for everyone in the season one episode) and I even made an episode guide for each episode for us to look over (obviously).

So, with Thanksgiving looming around the corner, let’s explore how Friends Thanksgiving episodes have ruined my life:

1. Assume I’ll be Spending Thanksgiving Getting into Hilarious Situations with My Best Friends

I mean, with the exception of Thanksgiving 2004 when I was studying abroad in Dublin, I have always spent Thanksgiving with my family. I’d do Canadian Thanksgiving with friends or fake Thanksgiving with friends, but real Thanksgiving was always with my family.

This year, I’ve just moved to Los Angeles and can’t afford to fly to New York for Thanksgiving and Christmas so am spending Thanksgiving here with some of my extended family.

But still family.

And I wouldn’t trade that for the world…BUT…Thanksgiving with your 6 best friends looks like a pretty fun time! And I’ve always had this fantasy of living close to my friends and having a big group of friends who I always hung out with but I didn’t have that. In college sophomore year I came closest when the group of us cooked a FULL Thanksgiving dinner the week before Thanksgiving in our dorm. I even helped cook the turkey.

But nothing can compare to the fun and hilarious situations they get into on Friends. Obviously.

2. Every Year I Think, “I Could Probably Fit My Head In There” Regarding the Turkey

I mean, Joey did it and it was HILARIOUS.

And Monica did it and it was SO SWEET.

So I always just want to put the turkey on my head and just see what the reaction was.

And if you’re looking for a way to safely do this there is this product:

3. I Can’t Go Through Thanksgiving Without Making Everyone Around Me Play The “Name All 50 States Games”

The season 7 Thanksgiving episode is great for many reasons. But one of the best subplots in it is Chandler trying to make everyone play a game where you just write down all 50 states in 6 minutes.

Monica wasn’t playing against anyone else so “technically didn’t lose,” Rachel got 48, Phoebe stopped naming states and named “kinds of celery” instead and Joey gets…56. Obviously Ross assumes he’d be awesome at this and gets very cocky and of course, only comes up with 46.

In typical Ross fashion (which could also be named Erin fashion) he obsesses over this game all day and into the night, agreeing not to eat dinner until he gets it. Poor Ross.

And thus began years of Erin saying, “let’s do the states game again!” on Thanksgiving.

I’m usually around a Monica level when I play. But I keep trying.

4. I’m Always Worried About Ruining The Trifle!

Okay, well not the trifle EXACTLY but something.

I’m not a great cook unless we’re talking about pancakes. Then I’m awesome. I’m much better at baking. There’s a set rule, the ingredients make sense to me. Cooking is too messy, really, and uncontrolled and I just am not great at it.

But Thanksgiving comes around and I think I should try cooking again and I always try to make people let me help them cook or my New Mexico-raised husband and I bake a delicious green chile apple pie with cheddar crust (it’s okay, NYT, I don’t blame for your spelling green chile wrong). And it’s a success but I still get stressed about the idea of ruining the day with my terrible cooking. What if I read the instructions wrong and put beef in the trifle?!

5. Always Worried/Hopeful Someone Will Make Me Play Touch Football

One thing that I take away from the Thanksgiving episodes is the care to the costumes. I mean, I’m always into the costumes on Friends but I feel like they have really nailed them on these episodes.

In season 6, the guys are all in cold colors while the girls are in warm colors.

Their faces were really hard to capture in this scene! But you get the idea.

And in season 3 their costumes for the football game are amazing. I recently attended a football game and determined I was Phoebe at a Football Game based on my outfit and I was referring to this episode.


I’m not athletic, I don’t like watching sports but I AM competitive. So when I see Monica getting so competitive with Ross (and everyone) and playing touch football it makes ME want to play touch football. Even though there’s no way that would end well. And let me tell you, when you’re a competitive person AND not athletic…it’s a deadly combo.

"Is everybody else seeing a Troll doll nailed to a 2 X 4?"

At least they found the Geller Cup.

Just be warned, I’m very similar to Ross and VERY protective of my Thanksgiving leftover sandwich with the “moist maker.”

(All images screengrabbed by me from my DVD collection)

  • Jessica Townsley

    I was hoping to see something like this from you on Thanksgiving! “What’s not to like? Custard: good. Jam: good. Meat: GOOOOOOD.” I’m cooking my first actual Thanksgiving this year with our friends and I’m terrified I am going to make some epic mistake. Good thing I have ‘Friends’ to make me laugh!

    • Erin Long

      Yay! I’m sure your cooking will go well!

  • Laura Meyers

    These are all So. True. Oh, and I also end up hoping that Brad Pitt will walk through the door. (Sigh.)

    • Erin Long

      Haha, true, that would definitely help!

  • Anne Taylor Biddle

    I love Friends so much. Also, I’m going to be that girl who corrects your spelling. It’s Vail, not Vale. I am a Colorado native, so I’ll blame it on that.

    • Erin Long

      I knew I should have looked it up!

  • Michelle Grove Shaffer

    I adore the episode with the trifle – just hearing Rachel list off all the layers makes me laugh every single time. “Look, isn’t it beautiful? First there’s a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard – WHICH I made from scratch – then raspberries, more ladyfingers, then beef sauteed with peas and onions…”

    • Meredith Lee

      I love Joey’s response to that, “only one layer of jam!”

  • Meredith Lee

    I started this tradition of watching all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes last year…it made me so happy! I love Chandler’s Thanksgiving speech in the first one, “I’m thankful that all of your Thanksgivings sucked’!” I also really liked Matthew Perry’s acting in TOW Chandler’s in a Box. It reminded me of that episode of Dick Van Dyke when Laura gets stuck in the bathtub and she’s off screen the whole time and has to rely on vocal cues. He did such a great job in that episode! I loved the football one too….and the fact that Rachel’s “mom” was on Phoebe’s shirt!! Oh and the trifle one? My favorite line of that episode is when Ross mentions that the pages in the cookbook are all sticky and Joey looks at Chandler and yells at him and then Matthew Perry’s facial expression when that happened.

    Also….I always kinda wanted to do that as well–have Thanksgiving with my friends. I understood why they were all together for the first Thanksgiving episode but for the other episodes…why weren’t Joey or Rachel ever with their families?

    I think my favorite Friends Thanksgiving episodes are the first one and the football one, even though Matthew Perry looked too thin and sickly in that one. Oh, but I also loved the box one and the ending of the one where there all late to Thanksgiving and Monica and Chandler find out that they’re gonna have a baby….oh, you know…I can’t decide! I love them all!


  • Sandra Byles

    All my favourite Friends episodes are the Thanksgiving ones. When they started releasing those “Best Of” DVDs with the wedding eps and Christmas eps and so forth, I was so bummed they never did a Thanksgiving one. Wasted opportunity!

    Oh, and to this day, if I’m depressed over something I’ll just yell, “Screw it! Bring on the yams!” And if someone tries to question me I just repeat louder “YAMS!”

    Perfect post! I love it!

  • Alex Grundstrom

    Love the episode with Joey’s Thanksgiving pants.. or Phoebe’s pregnancy pants, too funny!! Oh and the one with Brad Pitt!

  • Julie Walsh

    FRIENDS will forever be my favorite show and thanksgiving episodes were always the best! I love the Brad Pitt thanksgiving. *Phoebe hugging him* “It’s just like I imagined it would be!” And the one with Chandler in the box. “How cute is the on-call doctor? So cute, I’m thinking about jabbing this pen in my eye!” But I think my favorite is season six. “Ross married Rachel in Vegas and got divorced….AGAIN!”

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