With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this month is all about thankfulness and coming together with friends and family. Plus, one of the best things about Thanksgiving, aside from all the food, is all of the various Thanksgiving episodes of our favorite shows! Of course, not all Thanksgiving episodes are created equal, but we’ve collected our own personal favorite Thanksgiving episodes! Some of them are light-hearted, others are serious, but they’ll all make you appreciate your friends and families that much more.
New Girl, Season 2, “Parents”
Legendary actors Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner join the gang as Jessica Day’s parents. Jessica’s parents have been divorced since she was a kid and she is keen on getting them back together… Parent Trap-style. Nick and Cece are reluctant to help, especially when Jess’s mom tries to make moves on Nick (during an awkwardly sexy basting scene). Meanwhile, Schmidt and his cousin Big Schmidt compete in a battle of manliness to be the one true Schmidt. This culminates in a dinner yelling match where Jess demands her need for a family, and realizes that she still has a family even if her parents never get back together. Winston even gets a little action when Big Schmidt proves his manliness by kissing him. “All day!”
Master of None, Season 2, “Thanksgiving”
This is actually a new addition to my favorite Thanksgiving episodes, and I’d like to point out that it’s the only Emmy award winning episode on this list! Booyah! But I’ll go on detail its merits. The Netflix series Master of None does an excellent job at depicting different cultures – likely because they have writers from the cultures that they want to tell stories about. So, with a story about Denise, a black lesbian, coming out, Lena Waithe, the actress who plays Denise, went ahead and co-wrote this Emmy winning episode for Best Writing for a Comedy Series. Not only does it feel like one of the most authentically written episodes of television, the talent in the episode itself is staggering. Living legend Angela Bassett plays Denise’s mom and does a good job of resisting her daughter’s coming out without alienating the audience. Also, shout out to the set decorator who put Jennifer Aniston and Karyn Parsons posters on young Denise’s bedroom walls!
The Simpsons, Season 2, “Bart vs Thanksgiving”
This Thanksgiving episode of The Simpsons is much more drama than comedy, but it is my favorite nonetheless. Bart “ruins Thanksgiving” when he and Lisa get in a fight, and he destroys her centerpiece. Bart, after being sent to his room without supper, escapes and begins his search for food…and the real meaning of the holiday. Although the episode gets a bit depressing, what with Bart ending up at a homeless shelter, it does end on the usual sitcom heartwarming happy ending with Bart learning his lesson and Lisa forgiving him. The Simpsons will always hold a special place in my cold, black heart, mostly because it practically raised me, and this episode is one of my earliest memories of the entire series. I’m pretty sure I recorded it off the TV onto a VHS, and I would watch it over and over again. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Let’s all just get over our crap, eat too much turkey, and watch The Simpsons together.
The West Wing, Season 2, “Shibboleth”
I love this episode because it is pristine The West Wing. There are lighthearted and hilarious moments wrapped around a deeper plot line. Toby, Josh, and Sam play a joke on C.J. by having the Thanksgiving turkeys put into her office. I laugh everytime I watch C.J. walk into her office and encounter Troy and Eric (the turkeys). She is in charge of deciding which of the two is more photogenic. One of the best scenes is C.J. talking to the turkeys as she puts them through a flash photography test; she ultimately picks Eric for the pardon. Another great part of the episode is President Bartlett sending Charlie out to find the perfect carving knife. Charlie finally asks why he has been on the hunt for a new knife. Bartlett explains it is because he is giving his knife to Charlie and now needs a new one. I tear up every time when Bartlett hands him that Paul Revere carving knife. The deeper plot lines of this story revolve around religion: there is a discussion about prayer in school and a boat full of chinese refugees seeking religious asylum. This is such a well-rounded episode and really embodies the feeling of gratefulness and friendship within the White House staff.
Gilmore Girls, Season 3, “A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving”
In this Gilmore Girls Thanksgiving episode, our girls have overbooked their day and have 4 different Thanksgiving dinners to attend. The episode is rife with classic Lorelai one-liners; plus, I relate to it on so many levels. As a (half) Korean American, seeing Lorelai and Rory visit the Kims for Thanksgiving gets me rolling every time I rewatch this episode because it’s so relatable for me. My family Thanksgiving has never included Tofurkey like at the Kims, but we always had a mix of both Korean and American dishes (you’d be surprised by how well kimchee goes with mashed potatoes). The second thing I love about this episode is Lorelai and Rory’s voracity; they conquer all of their Thanksgiving dinners without an ounce of self consciousness, and they still have room for a to-go bag of rolls at the end of the episode! I’ve honestly never wanted to aspire to anything more than I aspire to Lorelai’s ability to eat in this episode.
Boy Meets World, Season 4, “Turkey Day”
In this episode, Cory and Shawn decide that the Matthews and the Hunters should have Thanksgiving dinner together. The parents are resistant, with Shawn’s father Chet (Blake Clark) stating, “It is unnatural to mix the classes, son.” The Matthews end up going to the Hunters’ trailer park for dinner and are visibly uncomfortable. The dinner is riddled with awkward conversation and ends up with the trailer park association deciding it’d be best if the Matthews leave because people like them “look down upon us.” The Matthews agree to leave (with Cory asking, “Why, mom?.. Because dad makes more money than Shawn’s dad? That’s why we can’t sit down and have a nice meal together?”), but the children decide to have their own Thanksgiving dinner together. Before the meal they give thanks, which mainly involve being able to be together and be friends despite their differences. The parents overhear the conversation and are properly ashamed of how they’ve behaved, and the whole lot decide to have dinner as planned. The reason that this episode is my favorite is because it doesn’t shy away from commenting on how society treats people from a differing class. It’s quite poignant for a kids’ show, but it’s something that we should be reflecting on during the holidays.