It’s a known fact that holiday episodes of tv shows are the best of any season. More specifically, the Thanksgiving episodes are always some my personal favorites.
I’m not sure if it’s because they could cover all of your family dynamics in a 30 – 50 minute episode, but the shows seemed to nail it perfectly every time. From comedic and heartwarming to the absolute dysfunctional. They always got it right.
I’m not one to build up the hopes of readers just to let them down. So, I want to break the news that Friends is not on this list now. I’ve never seen more than five minutes of an episode. And the only thing I know about their “famous” Thanksgiving episode is that someone wears a giant turkey on their head….
Sorry not sorry.
If you’re still with me though, let’s take a walk down memory lane for some of the best Thanksgiving episodes to hit your television. Or laptop.
1. Gossip Girl – “Blaire Waldorf Must Eat Pie!”
When it came to holiday episodes, Gossip Girl killed it.
Literally. Sometimes people died.
But most of the time it was just 50 minutes of drama, sex, rich teenage antics, and more sex, Throw in the familial dynamics of blended families and dating your stepbrother, and Gossip Girl couldn’t be topped.
The Thanksgiving episodes were always the best of the best. And none compare to that of the first season.
Season one’s Thanksgiving episode has it all. Flashbacks? Check. People’s relationships with food discussed through eating disorders? You bet. Awkward family dynamics? Coming right up.
There wasn’t a dull moment in this episode, and lets you imagine having your own glamorous Thanksgiving.
2. Master of None – “Thanksgiving”
There’s a reason why Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari won an Emmy for the Thanksgiving episode of Master of None. The episode follows young Aziz and Denise, (Lena Waithe) during her families yearly Thanksgiving dinners and has the overarching themes of black culture and Waithe’s coming out.
Through the episode we get to see Denise’s journey of coming into her own identity, and opening up to those around her. The climax of the episode comes in the form of Denise coming out to her mother, (Angela Bassett) who has been in denial of Denise’s identity for years.
The episode is sprinkled with classic familial antics. There’s the Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner bit. There’s also Denise’s drunk aunt (Kym Whitley) who is an absolute scene stealer. She acts as the comedic relief throughout the episode which sees Denise bringing multiple “friends” home throughout the years. These “friends” of course are her girlfriends. We see how the episode alludes to the problematic way some black families have interacted with the LGBTQ+ community. By denying queerness, and categorizing partners as “friends.”
You will laugh and if you have a heart, will probably sob when Denise’s mom finally accepts here for who she is. If you don’t watch any other episodes of Master of None, make the “Thanksgiving” your one exception.
3. Boy Meets World – “Turkey Day”
What I loved, and still do, about Boy Meets World, is how they addressed very important topics without glamorizing them. It is so easy to put a Hollywood spin on things like poverty, and Boy Meets World never did that when it talked about Shawn’s family. Shawn and Cory were best friends, but couldn’t come from more different worlds. Cory had the all American family in the big house and picket fence. Shawn was being raised by his father in a trailer.
The two words collide when Cory and Shawn decide to combine their families and have dinner at Shawn’s. Things don’t go as well as they hoped, and the intersection of class and privilege comes to a head.
4. New Girl – “Parents”
I only recently hopped on the New Girl bandwagon, but I am so happy to be here.
Jessica Day is a fave, and the dynamics between the cast are truly what sitcom dreams are made of.
In the second season’s Thanksgiving episode, Jess is cooking up one of her not-well thought-out schemes, and trying to get her parents(Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner!!!!) back together.
Everyone tells her it’s a bad idea. And we get to see flashbacks of all the times she’s done this before. (Again, I love flashbacks.)
5. Buffy The Vampire Slayer – “Pangs”
True Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans know that the season 4 Thanksgiving episode “Pangs” is one of the series’ best episodes. In what would be most white people’s worst nightmare, a Native American warrior’s spirit, who was wiped out by colonialists, comes back for revenge.
This episode is still hysterical to this day.
Xander gets syphilis. Which, as we all know is the disease that settlers infected Native Americans with when they stole their land.
Willow is in her feels and full of white guilt given the fate of Native Americans.
And Spike (swoon) is tied up and shot with arrows.
You’ll have to watch the episode to know if Buffy saves the day….
If you do only one thing on Thanksgiving (in addition to stuffing your face), make sure it’s bingeing these top Thanksgiving episodes.