We Nepalese watch most of the popular shows. And we’ve known a bit about western tradition. Thanksgiving falls in one of them. It’s that time of year to give thanks… to TV shows that still have Thanksgiving episodes. Episodes devoted to Thanksgiving are becoming less common these days, owing in part to the rise of entire seasons being released at once. However, there have been a plethora of classic Thanksgiving episodes on television over the years that should help put you in a festive mood in 42 minutes or less. Here are a few examples:
1. Friends – “The One With All the Thanksgivings”
Friends rarely met a holiday it didn’t want to personalize in some way over the course of its ten seasons (see: The Holiday Armadillo), but the show had a particular fondness for Thanksgiving. Its creators have created a plethora of turkey-themed filler over the years, each with their own unique charms (and set of fans). Season 5’s fowl-fest, on the other hand, is jam-packed with fun flashbacks as the gang tells stories about their worst-ever Thanksgivings. And also propelling Monica and Chandler’s budding romance forward. Furthermore, a raw turkey is worn as headgear in a way that Mr. Bean would approve of.
2. The Simpsons – “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”
The Simpsons may have a monopoly on Halloween, but this episode captures the Thanksgiving spirit—family arguments and all—when Bart accidentally breaks a table centerpiece made by Lisa and flees the house. Bart develops a deeper appreciation for his family after spending the holiday at a homeless shelter. He returns home to make amends with his distraught sister, and the entire family gathers for a round of leftovers.
3. Seinfeld – “The Mom & Pop Store”
“The Mom & Pop Store” has multiple plots. Just like any other Seinfeld episode, but they all take place during Thanksgiving, and many of the episode’s high points revolve specifically around the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Elaine helps her boss, Mr. Pitt, win a chance to pilot the Woody the Woodpecker balloon by correctly identifying a song on a radio contest but then Jerry later punctures the balloon when he drops an Empire State Building statue out frenemy Tim Whatley’s office window.
The episode was inspired by real-life footage of a deflated Woody Woodpecker balloon making its way down the parade route. But it is best known for the Midnight Cowboy-inspired plotline in which George buys (possibly) Jon Voight’s LeBaron convertible and Jerry walks around town in a pair of slick cowboy boots.
Friends is unquestionably the king of Thanksgiving episodes. Some sitcoms may have had one or two Thanksgiving episodes during their run, but Friends celebrated it almost every year. And the Thanksgiving episodes were arguably even better than the Christmas ones. The best is debatable, but our pick is season six’s “The One Where Ross Got High,”. In which Monica’s parents come over for Thanksgiving after she begins dating Chandler, whom they dislike due to a lie Ross told years before.
4. Friends – “The One Where Ross Got High”
The highlight, however, is Rachel assisting Monica in the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner. And only to make a bizarre dessert concoction by combining the recipes for an English trifle and a shepherd’s pie. The group is forced to act as if nothing is wrong, resulting in some classic “struggling to pretend you like terrible food” acting.
5. Orange Is the New Black – “Fucksgiving”
Piper Chapman is about to celebrate her first Thanksgiving in prison. But she is also looking forward to seeing her fiancé, Larry. Some of the inmates start dancing before he arrives, and when Piper and Alex join in. The harmless fun turns into a claim that the two women were doing more than just dancing in the shower, and Piper is sent to solitary confinement. While Larry is frantically trying to figure out what happened to Piper, Piper is concerned that she will be out of sight for the next several months. But her alone time with a moldy bologna sandwich for dinner proves pivotal for her… and her relationship with Alex.
6. The Office – “WUPHF.com”
Though Christmas is the more important holiday for Dunder Mifflin employees. This episode sees Dwight attempting to erase childhood trauma caused by his family holding competing “hay festivals” each Thanksgiving where he was never crowned king. To make amends, he transforms the parking lot into his own festival. And all with the goal of finally claiming the hay crown he believes he deserves. Isn’t that, after all, what the holiday spirit is all about?
7. How I Met Your Mother – “Slapsgiving”
It’s been eight years since one of television’s most contentious endings, perhaps just long enough for fans to start revisiting some older episodes without feeling quite so bitter. “Slapsgiving,” from season three, is not only a fantastic Thanksgiving episode, but also one of How I Met Your Mother’s best overall.
One of the show’s longest-running gags began a season earlier when Barney lost a bet to Marshall that gave the latter the ability to slap him five times. The first two slaps were unexpected. But the third is revealed to Barney on Thanksgiving, forcing him to spend the entire holiday in fear. All of this culminates in Jason Segel getting to show off his singing abilities with a hilarious slap-themed song. But be warned: the Ted and Robin-heavy plot in this episode may bring back memories of the series’ ending.
8. Friends – “The One Where Underdog Gets Away”
Friends’ first Thanksgiving episode establishes the gang’s devotion to one another. Despite their plans to spend the holiday apart. They all end up spending it where they always do: around Monica’s kitchen table. Despite the fact that conflicts arise and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons fly away, this episode serves as an excellent introduction to a decade of Thanksgiving meals shared by these friends.
9. The Wonder Years – “The Ties That Bind”
Every child eventually realizes that their parents have identities other than “mom” and “dad”. And that there is an entire history to that relationship that they will likely never know or understand. Kevin Arnold experiences this on Thanksgiving Day. When his father, Jack, requests a raise at work in order to purchase a new stove for his wife, his boss agrees and even offers him a promotion.
But there’s a catch: Jack will have to spend a lot of time on the road, including Thanksgiving Day. Despite Kevin’s mother’s best efforts, Jack’s absence is felt deeply throughout the family. Especially when it comes time to carve the turkey. But the normally frugal Jack surprises the entire family when he spends a large sum of money to fly home at the last minute, not to share dinner with his family, but simply to spend an hour with them at the airport before returning home. It’s more than enough in some ways.
10. Gilmore Girls – “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving”
After three seasons of watching Lorelai and Rory Gilmore regularly consume whatever junk food they can find. Their appetites for overindulgence are finally put to the test when they accept four separate Thanksgiving dinner invitations. And each one slightly different from the last. The real treat in the episode, however, is witnessing a very drunk Sookie (played by Melissa McCarthy). Which give us what might be our very first glimpse of the raucous comedy chops she has since become famous—and Oscar-nominated—for.