Thanksgiving is a time for food, family and friends, especially those six friends with the hilarious lives in New York City. Yes, I’m talking about Friends, the show that kept its audiences laughing for years with Phoebe’s songs about smelly cats and Joey’s auditions for cheesy soap operas. Along with Monica’s obsession for cleanliness and Chandler’s way with one-liners, Friends has one of the best Thanksgiving episodes in television history. You know the one. The Thanksgiving television special recipe is usually two parts hilarity and one part moral lesson. Several shows over the years have perfected this formula making Thanksgiving a time for relaxation and re-runs.
Will & Grace
“Homo for the Holidays”
season 2, episode 7, 1999
The chemistry between this cast is something I always look for in new television shows I start watching. I have yet to find a cast with magnetism comparable to Will and Grace’s sweet relationship and Jack and Karen’s crazy antics. In this episode, Will invites Jack’s mother over for Thanksgiving dinner. Jack resents Will for this because his mother has no idea he is gay, to which Karen replies, “Is she headless?” While Grace spends the episode slurping pie filling through a straw (and I spend it realizing Grace is my spirit animal), everyone finds out Jack told his mother he dated Grace. The tangle of lies worsens when Karen becomes jealous that she is not Jack’s fake girlfriend. Luckily, Will convinces Jack to be true to himself, and the audience discovers Jack was Will’s motivation to come out as gay. Jack confesses to his mother that he’s gay only to learn a major secret in return. The episode thrives on Jack’s hilarious behavior, especially as he tries to delay revealing his secret to his mother and recites a list of things he is thankful for, including InStyle Magazine and the smell of jasmine. But the main focus is to be yourself no matter what others will think about you. If I was “Just Jack,” I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. Just saying.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
season 1, episode 12, 1990
This Thanksgiving special introduces Will’s mother for the first time. Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil fly his mom, Viola, out to their mansion for Thanksgiving dinner. During the first few minutes of her arrival, a dance party with all of the family to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” from The Temptations ensues. Any episode with a dance party is an episode for me. Will’s mom dislikes the way the children, especially Will, have no responsibility around the house. She makes the kids clean up the table after dinner and even gives the gardener the day off before Thanksgiving. After learning about this, Aunt Viv feels like a terrible mother and forces the kids to make Thanksgiving dinner. In other news, Carlton has invited his English teacher over for the holiday. The dinner is a disaster. Carlton’s stuffing is soupy, and Will’s turkey is still frozen. The family laughs it off, and the two sisters reconcile after Aunt Viv explains she was only trying to give the kids what she didn’t have growing up. The kids learn responsibility, and the family enjoys a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner made out of whatever is in the cabinets. Who said Thanksgiving has to be fancy?
Boy Meets World
season 4, episode 10, 1996
Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter are the definition of bromance in a time where that word didn’t even exist. The boys decide to get their families together for Thanksgiving dinner. The Matthews live in a nice home in a notable neighborhood, while the Hunters live in a trailer park. Awkward behavior occurs as a result of Shawn’s mother feeling embarrassed that her forks don’t match, and Cory’s mom says she was the same way when starting out. After the trailer park neighborhood association asks Shawn’s dad to get the Matthews out because they don’t belong there, the couples decide that it they could never really get along because they are from two different social circles. The kids have their own dinner after a boy asks Cory’s sister Morgan over for pie. They talk about how thankful they are to like people for who they are, not their social status. Finally, the families enjoy dinner together. The parents learned a lesson, and Shawn even gets an A+ on his essay about social inequality and prejudice. Hey, there’s a first time for everything.
“The One With All the Thanksgiving Flashbacks”
season 5, episode 8, 1998
Where do I even start? With a divorce and an eviction hanging over his head, Ross thinks he’s having the worst Thanksgiving ever. Chandler challenges him and explains the Thanksgiving when he found out his father was gay and divorcing his mother was the worst, which is why he hates Thanksgiving. Joey still thinks the Thanksgiving when he got a turkey stuck on his head was the worst. But I think Monica wins after hearing Chandler call her fat on Thanksgiving years ago when he came home with Ross from college. Thanksgiving a year after that incident, Monica gets back at Chandler by slimming down, looking super hot in a little black dress and kind of sort of disfiguring him. You’ll have to watch to find out, but this is the ultimate Thanksgiving television special. Ross rocks a weird mustache back in college, and Chandler sports a haircut that makes him look like one of the guys in A Flock of Seagulls. We love watching these friends learn from their mistakes, especially when it results in Monica dancing around with a turkey on her head and Chandler being called Sir Limpsalot.
“A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving”
season 3, episode 9, 2002
Thanksgiving for Lorelai and Rory comes with a challenge to attend four dinners. A Korean dinner from Lane makes Lorelai feel “tufurkier,” while Sookie’s Thanksgiving celebration features a propane tank, an industrial burner and 15 gallons of peanut oil. They think they can get out of Luke’s dinner only to find out that Luke actually likes when they join him for some turkey talk. Finally, Lorelai’s parents expect them over for Thanksgiving, and Lorelai learns Rory secretly applied to Yale. What’s Thanksgiving without a little family drama? Kirk keeps the episode light by buying a cat. He names it Kirk, which leads to quite an entertaining battle between Human Kirk and Cat Kirk. Romance hits the scene when both bad boy Jess and perfect gentleman Dean want Rory (tough life for Rory, huh?). Oh, and Lane finds loves with Dave who is played by the charming Adam Brody and is a musician. Need I say more?
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Taylor Pittman is a southern girl, born and raised in Alabama. She also wishes to never hear the song “Sweet Home Alabama” again. She is currently pursuing a BA in journalism at Auburn University where the boys are gentlemen and football is king. Her future plans include working for one of her favorite magazines and owning a black cat named Thackery Binx. She prides herself on once being compared to Rory Gilmore and knowing all the lyrics to Hanson’s “MmmBop.” In her perfect world, she would end every email with “XOXO, Gossip Girl” and have pizza at every meal. She shares all of her adventures on twitter @TaylorPittman22.