I originally posted this idea on Insight into Entertainment and it's all I think of when we get close to Thanksgiving. It's what I do on Thursday as I cook and wait for dinner. I didn't love the writing on this post so I've modified it quite a bit this year.
There were many reasons to love "Friends" and this week I'm thankful that they always had a terrific Thanksgiving episode. I like it when a TV show acknowledges that it doesn't live in a vacuum and realizes that it exists on Thursday nights and Thanksgiving is always a Thursday, and the producers at "Friends" always made unique Thanksgiving shows. Most series do a Christmas/holiday episode of some sort, but with the current schedule of episodes, Christmas shows often appear the first week of December with no new episodes until well after the holidays. Without further ado, here are the reasons I'm thankful Friends was an awesome show.
Season 1 - "The One Where Underdog Gets Away" This episode brings all the friendless Friends together when they're supposed to be celebrating elsewhere. It's the beginning of them putting together their lives as a family. Wonderdog (a balloon in the Thanksgiving Day parade) escaped from the Macy's parade and ends up down in the Village near their apartments, causing them all to get locked out and miss dinner. Not the best of the Thanksgiving series, but a classic example of Friends. And, I remember it was pretty shocking that a show would show a new episode on a holiday.
Season 2 - I don't know why, but there's no Thanksgiving episode this season. I watched the whole season to be sure!
Season 3 - "The One with the Football" None of the Friends are dressed well throughout this episode, and it always bothers me. Given that they generally dress like they're ready for anything, it's odd that they're in sweats and jerseys. They decide to play football in the park reliving Ross and Monica's favorite holiday pasttime. Eventually, it becomes really competitive and dirty tricks abound. Joey and Chandler fight over a hot girl, but as they learn, most girls don't want to be told who they get to go out with. I love watching them try to avoid passing the ball to Rachel and Phoebe flashing the guys to run past them. The episode ends with Monica and Ross still in the park holding onto the football waiting to see who wins The Gellar Cup.
Season 4 - "The One with Chandler in a Box" This is one of the all time best episodes of Friends. Joey won't forgive Chandler for kissing his girlfriend Cathy. To make up for it, Chandler spends Thanksgiving Day in a box. Monica gets ice in her eye and goes to see the eye doctor - Richard's son (hot Michael Vartan) who she invites to Thanksgiving Dinner. The whole thing becomes kinda weird, particularly with Chandler sticking his fingers out of the hole in the box, but it's got one of the best lines ever from Monica yelling at the others for judging her crush on Richard's son:
Monica: "Fine! Judge all you want to but, [points to Ross] married a lesbian, [points to Rachel] left a man at the altar, [points to Phoebe] fell in love with a gay ice dancer, [points to Joey] threw a girl's wooden leg in a fire, [points to the box Chandler's in] live in a box!"
Season 5 - "The One with Thanksgiving Flashbacks" All the Friends flash back to Thanksgivings they remember. The show always did this well, with Monica in a fat suit, Rachel with her old nose, Ross and Chandler's 80s hair. They flash back to the 2 Thanksgivings when Ross brought Chandler home from college. The first year he calls Monica fat behind her back, so the next year she's back to her normal size. She says she hates him, which parallels to their real time love affair, deciding they love each other. There's a great moment when Joey has the turkey stuck on his head. And at the end to make up for cutting off Chandler's toe, Monica dances around with a turkey on her head.
Season 6 - "The One where Ross Got High" This is another of my all time favorites. The Gellars (Monica and Ross' parents, Judy and Jack) come over for Christmas and Rachel attempts to make a "Tradition English Trifle"e but accidentally adds beef with peas and onions because two recipe pages got stuck together. Phoebe dreams about Jack Gellar fighting Jacques Cousteau. And Ross and Monica out each other on all the secrets of their childhood: porn, broken porch swing, pot smoking. They find out they've been blaming Chandler for lots of things which is why the Gellar parents have always hated him. When they find out the truth, they thank Chandler for watching out for their kids. Joey comments on Rachel's trifle: "What's not to like, Jam:good, Custard: Good, Beef: Gooo-od"
Season 7 - "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs" This episode didn't really fit into their Thanksgiving canon. Phoebe has a dog she's been hiding in the guest room even though Chandler hates them and says he's deathly allergic. Not too much goes on beyond Rachel flirting with Tag and he finds out she likes him.
Season 8 - "The One with the Rumor" This was when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were still married in real life. Pitt guest starred as a friend of Ross' from high school who used to be really fat, but is now Brad Pitt (we should all be so lucky). Rachel spends most of the episode trying to figure out who he was and flirting because she can't remember the fat kid. Pitt and Ross had a club in high school called the "We Hate Rachel Greene" club. Rachel is pissed when she finds out considering she is pregnant and having a kid with Ross. Pitt applauds Ross for knocking up Rachel. Monica never told Rachel because there was a rumor that Rachel had a "teeny weeny" and Monica didn't want to see it. It's a really funny episode with lots of Thanksgiving cooking.
Season 9 - "The One with Rachel's Other Sister" Christina Applegate shows up for Thanksgiving and spouts her narcissistic opinions on how to raise Rachel and Ross' new baby Emma. She assumes she'd get to raise Emma if Ross or Rachel die, but they've already planned to ask Monica and Chandler. This causes all kinds of discussions about why certain people would or would not be good parents. Applegate is really, really annoying as a sibling you'd NEVER give your child to, but totally represents the person Rachel might have become without the other Friends.
Season 10 - "The One with the Late Thanksgiving" Monica reluctantly agrees to cook Thanksgiving dinner again, but Ross and Joey go to a hockey game, and Phoebe and Rachel enter Emma in a beautiful baby contest so everyone's late. They spend a lot of time talking to Monica and Chandler through the door with the chain on, floating heads as they stack one above the over. Joey of course gets his head stuck. It's a really funny classic Friends episode of fighting, but no one being really upset. Great finale to the Thanksgiving series.
What are your Thanksgiving TV/movie traditions? Football DOESN'T count.