Just some of the best Thanksgiving television specials
Turkey Day is here! This means that turkey, stuffing, sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce and all of the usual suspects will likely make a debut at your dinner table±if you come from a family that can throw down in the kitchen, that is. But it also means that practically every channel will be airing Thanksgiving-themed episodes of all of your favorite shows. What better way to give thanks than to watch fictional characters do it? And besides, it’s the perfect way to dodge prodding questions about your love life from the nosy relatives who will surely be in attendance for the festivities. So here’s a list of some of my personal favorite Thanksgiving-themed episodes of both classic and newer shows to get you started.
Gilmore Girls “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” (Season 3, Episode 9)
In charming Gilmore Girls fashion, Lorelai and Rory attempt to attend multiple Thanksgiving dinners. We follow the girls as they hop around Stars Hollow, growing progressively more full and sluggish. They have tofurkey with the Kim family, hang out with a drunk and horrified Sookie as she watches Jackson and his family deep-fry a turkey in the front yard, and of course, there’s their adorably awkward dinner with Luke and Jess at the diner. Although, the night ends at the diner and it is anything but awkward then—hint: smokin’ hot Rory/Jess smooch.
The O.C. “The Homecoming” (Season 1, Episode 11)
In this classic early episode, there’s tons of drama, as per usual. Ryan decides to return to Chino to see his brother after he calls him from jail and of course, Marissa insists on tagging along for the ride. Meanwhile, Seth is back in Newport with a problem of his own; in a surprising turn of events, he finds himself juggling two girls. Anna and Summer are both after his heart, but his player status comes to a screeching halt when his good fortune inevitably blows up in his face.
Full House “The Miracle of Thanksgiving” (Season 1, Episode 9)
Join the Tanners for the only Thanksgiving episode they’ve ever done. It’s the first Thanksgiving after the death of Danny’s wife and the girls insist that they should cook at home instead of going out to dinner. Despite a raw (then, eventually over-cooked) turkey, a dropped pumpkin pie, and general chaos, the Tanners still manage a fun dance number and exchange hugs galore in true Full House fashion.
Friends “The One with the Thanksgiving Flashbacks” (Season 5, Episode 8)
There are several memorable Friends Thanksgiving episodes but I’ve settled on the one that’s the most generous–the one with the glorious flashbacks. Everyone looks back at their worst Thanksgivings and obviously, hilarity ensues. Who could forget the part where Joey gets his head stuck in a turkey?
Parenthood “Happy Thanksgiving” (Season 2, Episode 10)
This is the perfect show for a Thanksgiving episode because it’s a series that knows how to realistically portray a family. A scene that takes place at the dinner table isn’t one that involves little quips tossed back and forth in an orderly fashion. It’s total cacophony–everyone is talking over each other and there are a dozen different conversations happening simultaneously. Much like your average family. A single episode of Parenthood will have you laughing, crying, and feeling nostalgic about your own fam. Doubly so with this Thanksgiving special.
Bob’s Burgers “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” (Season 3, Episode 5)
Of course, I had to throw an animated series into the pile—especially one as comical as Bob’s Burgers. The episode begins somewhat normally as Bob chooses the “perfect” turkey. But as usual, things take a turn for the bizarre when the family’s landlord asks to borrow them as his pretend family in attempts to win back an old flame. Absinthe may or may not be involved.
Mad Men “The Wheel” (Season 1, Episode 13)
This is arguably one of Mad Men’s greatest episodes, as many of the holiday ones tend to be. Notably, Don makes his famous, uncharacteristically emotional Kodak pitch that lands Sterling Cooper the account. But when he is overcome with a desire to see his family and decides that he actually does want to spend Thanksgiving with them, he arrives to an empty house. Things are also grim for Peggy, who has been in denial about the baby she eventually has to give birth to. I know I’m not doing a good job of selling this as a warm, joyous Thanksgiving-themed episode, but that’s not what Mad Men is about. That said, this episode—Weiner’s directorial debut—is too good to pass up. Just follow it with something cloying and you’ll be just fine.
[Image via NBC]