While many shows try to do very special Thanksgiving episodes, most of them degenerate into a muddle of typical family feuding and melodrama. And if we wanted to see disastrous family meals, we would just tune in to Brothers & Sisters on any given week. But every few seasons, at least one great show gives a holiday episode we can be truly thankful for. Here our favorites from the recent and far past:
10. Saturday Night Live, "Adam Sandler Thanksgiving Song"
No, this isn't a full episode, but this brief segment on Weekend Update is still one of the cleverest Thanksgiving-themed things the show has ever done. Besides, this list needed a song devoted solely to eating turkey and taking a nap. "Turkey for me, turkey for you. Let's eat turkey in a big brown shoe." And though we don't know what it has to do with the holiday, we too are still pondering why the Mets traded Darryl Strawberry. It's the great mystery of the holiday season.
9. Gossip Girl, "Blair Waldorf Must Pie!"
Aside from the amazing title, this was a pretty great episode from the first season of the show. Not only did we get to see a bizarre Thanksgiving chain of events in which the van der Woodsen family somehow ended up in Brooklyn having a festive diner meal instead of eating at chez Waldorf, but we also got to see a flashback to the much less tumultuous years before. We learned Lily was a groupie, saw Blair in full-on bulimic mode, watched Eleanor exhibit actual emotions and had our heart broken by poor, sad Nate Archibald. Everyone traveled back and forth between boroughs, and it was mostly happily ever after... well, except for Nate.
8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Pangs"
Xander helps dig up the spirits of some Chumash Native Americans, Angel returns from Los Angeles to secretly help out Buffy, Spike gets tied to a chair and shot with arrows and Anya teaches us that the true meaning of the holiday is animal sacrificing... and pie.
7. Gilmore Girls, "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving"
Four, four, four Thanksgivings for the price of one. If anyone can handle this task, it's Lorelai and Rory. The mother-daughter twosome start their day at the Kims, where Lane has invited her boyfriend, and there's bonus Tofurkey. Then they head to Sookie's, where everything is deep-fried -- pickles, turkeys, everything. (The power of booze compelled them.) They then go to the diner for a bite with Luke and Jess and then have to end the day at the Gilmores, where Rory drops the bomb that she applied to Yale. Fun for the whole extended family.
6. Dexter, "Hungry Man"
When Dexter decided to spend Thanksgiving with the Trinity killer and his family, he got dinner and a show. John Lithgow said the c-word, an urn was smashed, Trinity snapped his son's finger in half and the whole thing ended with Dex wrestling the family's patriarch to the ground in a chokehold. Plus, nobody got any pie. We'd be forever traumatized for that part alone.
5. Cheers, "Thanksgiving Orphans"
Birdzilla! We got to see the whole gang out of the bar and hanging at Carla's, enjoying some typical traditions of watching football. But when their giant turkey refused to cook fast enough, hunger took over and an all-out food fight ensued leading to sheer chaos and Vera getting a pie in the face. Perfect sitcom food for thought.
4. The West Wing, "Shibboleth"
Fearing a potential presidential legacy of being soft on turkeys, President Bartlett opts to pardon only one of the turkeys tearing up C.J.'s office and to draft the second one into military service. Also, the episode dealt with some Chinese Christians getting asylum in the U.S. after sailing the high seas stuffed into shipping containers to escape religious persecution, but really, the turkey going to basic training joke was all we needed to get us into the Thanksgiving spirit.
3. South Park, "Starvin Marvin"
We're sorry that it offended Sally Struthers but it cracked us up to see her hoarding the food that had been sent to starving Ethiopian children. Also, the show wonderfully poked fun at American excesses when the kids accidentally got Marvin, an Ethiopian child, from donating money to a charity for selfish purposes. His horror about all-you-can-eat buffets and appetizers ("what you eat before you eat") is dead on. And did we mention there are wild, genetically mutated turkeys roaming around town?
2. How I Met Your Mother, "Slapsgiving"
It's the episode that introduced us to Ted and Robin saluting at comments like "major buzzkill." It also featured a holiday celebration filled with love and friendship and some old guy named Bob. Plus, we got to enjoy one of the most anticipated slaps from the show's recurring Slap Bet gag. There was even a countdown... and theme music!
1. Friends, "The One With all the Thanksgivings"
How could you possibly top an episode that had Monica wearing a turkey on her head? Or Chandler sporting a Flock of Seagulls haircut and calling her fat? Or Monica accidentally cutting off Chandler's toe and then bringing a carrot instead of the toe to the hospital? Or even the perfectly awkward confession of love from Chandler when he sees Monica with the aforementioned turkey on her head?
Your favorite Thanksgiving episodes? Leave 'em below.
Watch TWoP's editors discuss the TV shows they're most thankful for this year in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
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