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The Top Ten Thanksgiving Episodes Cooked to Perfection

Sara Chaffee ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The holiday season is upon us. And while for most people that means the time to celebrate family, food, and good fortune, television fanatics know what the real blessing is: Thanksgiving episodes of their favorite TV shows.

While new Thanksgiving episodes will begin airing this week, there is never a guarantee that they will live up to the standards set by Friends. If you find yourself lacking great holiday television, here are some of the best episodes from your lifetime to get you into the holiday spirit.

1. Friends – “The One with the Rumor”

Brad Pitt, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer in the Friends episode "The One With The Rumor." Photo Credit: NBC.
Brad Pitt, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer in the Friends episode “The One With The Rumor.” Photo Credit: NBC.

Friends sets the bar for Thanksgiving episodes. Over the course of ten seasons, the series aired ten Thanksgiving episodes and every single one of them is phenomenal. They’re so good in fact that they are nearly impossible to rank. If you’re going to pick just one to watch though, you should go with “The One with the Rumor.” Guest starring Brad Pitt, the episode features the reunion of the I Hate Rachel Green Club, the revelation of high school rumors, and Brad Pitt’s beautiful 2001 face.

2. Everybody Loves Raymond – “Fighting In-Laws”

The cast of Everybody Loves Raymond. Photo Credit: CBS.
The cast of Everybody Loves Raymond. Photo Credit: CBS.

During its nine seasons, Everybody Loves Raymond aired five excellent Thanksgiving episodes. None quite stand out as much as this episode, in which Debra’s parents come for the holiday and bring with them some marital baggage. Raymond gets trapped in the garage for a night, Debra attempts to cook a turkey, and Marie fights for the title of best grandma.

3. Bob’s Burgers – “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal”

Still from the Bob’s Burgers episode "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal." Photo Credit: FOX.
Still from the Bob’s Burgers episode “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal.” Photo Credit: FOX.

In this immediate Thanksgiving classic, Mr. Fischoeder ruins all of Bob’s Thanksgiving traditions by bribing the Belcher’s to be his family in order to entice an old flame. This episode is great not just because it’s hysterical, but also because it highlights the heart of the series. Bob is such a dad and it’s adorable. Also, Bob picking out a turkey at the deli is one of the series’ most iconic moments, so this episode is a must watch if you haven’t seen it already. And if you haven’t seen it already, what is even the point of your Netflix account?

4. Seinfeld – “The Mom and Pop Store”

Still from the Seinfeld episode “The Mom and Pop Store.” Photo Credit: NBC.
Still from the Seinfeld episode “The Mom and Pop Store.” Photo Credit: NBC.

Seinfeld’s sole Thanksgiving episode is largely forgotten because the main storyline overshadows the Thanksgiving storyline. That is completely understandable since this is the episode where George buys the car that he thinks was owned by Jon Voight. Meanwhile, Kramer gives all of Jerry’s tennis shoes to the Mom and Pop Store, which leaves Jerry with only cowboy boots. (Midnight Cowboy references are everywhere; a true treat for Emerson film students). On the Thanksgiving side of things, Elaine wins a radio contest to fulfill Mr. Pitt’s childhood dream of holding Woody Woodpecker during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. During the course of the episode, Kramer gets bitten by Jon Voight, Jerry manages to pop the Woody Woodpecker balloon, and Bryan Cranston appears.

5. How I Met Your Mother – “Slapsgiving”

Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders in the How I Met Your Mother episode "Slapsgiving." Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.
Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders in the How I Met Your Mother episode “Slapsgiving.” Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

Any episode of How I Met Your Mother involving the slap bet is fantastic. “Slapsgiving” brings it to another level. Whether it’s Marshall’s countdown to the slap and “You Just Got Slapped” song, Barney’s fear stricken face, or Robin’s 80 year-old boyfriend, this episode is packed with greatness. It’s also the episode that gives birth to General Knowledge. You’re most likely a Major Buzzkill if you don’t watch this episode during the Thanksgiving holiday.

6. The Middle – “Thanksgiving III”

Still from The Middle episode "Thanksgiving III." Photo Credit: ABC.
Still from The Middle episode “Thanksgiving III.” Photo Credit: ABC.

The most underrated comedy on television right now has delivered five stellar Thanksgiving episodes. One of the best aspects of The Middle is that it somehow manages to feel like 90’s sitcom while still following ABC’s style of the single-camera family comedy. This ambiance is alive and well in “Thanksgiving III,” in which Molly Shannon guest-stars as Frankie’s sister. The episode has everything viewers have come to love from The Middle: Sue’s adorable excitement, Brick’s quirky intelligence, Mike’s constant attempt to teach Axl how to be a person, and Frankie’s ongoing feud with everyone around her. Give this episode a try and then do yourself a favor and watch the entire series.

7. Will & Grace – “Queens for a Day”

Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally and Debra Messing in the Will & Grace episode “Queens for a Day.” Photo Credit: NBC.
Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally and Debra Messing in the Will & Grace episode “Queens for a Day.” Photo Credit: NBC.

In this episode, Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen go to Vince’s parent’s house in Queens for Thanksgiving. While there, Will does everything in his power to get Vince’s mother to like him, including cooking an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, Grace and Karen both hook up with who they think is Vince’s brother, but turns out to be his 16 year-old nephew. During dinner, Will ends up yelling at Vince’s mother and outing his sister, who told Jack she was a lesbian. It’s not a true Thanksgiving episode until there is yelling at family around the dinner table.

8. New Girl – “Thanksgiving”

Jake Johnson, Hannah Simone, Zooey Deschanel and Justin Long in the New Girl episode "Thanksgiving." Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/FOX.
Jake Johnson, Hannah Simone, Zooey Deschanel and Justin Long in the New Girl episode “Thanksgiving.” Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/FOX.

Justin Long guest stars as Jess’s music teacher boyfriend in New Girl’s first Thanksgiving episode. In an attempt to impress him, Jess decides to cook a Thanksgiving feast, even though she doesn’t know how to cook. The gang spends a long time trying to figure out how to defrost the turkey and ends up setting the laundry room on fire. Schmidt steps up and takes over the kitchen and hilariousness ensues. Altogether, a dead body and Justin Long’s screams make this Thanksgiving episode one to remember.

9. Raising Hope – “Burt’s Parents”

Lee Majors and Shirley Jones in the Raising Hope episode "Burt's Parents." Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX.
Lee Majors and Shirley Jones in the Raising Hope episode “Burt’s Parents.” Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX.

Burt’s parents decide to join the Chance’s for Thanksgiving for the first time ever. In order to impress them, the family moves (breaks) into Virginia’s client’s house for the week. While there, the Chance’s explore the holiday lifestyle of the upper-middle class, Jimmy and Sabrina pretend to be a couple, and MawMaw has IM sex with an unknowing 16 year-old. The plan does not end up working for the family, but it definitely works for the viewer.

10. Happy Endings – “More Like Stanksgiving”

Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson and Eliza Coupe in the Happy Endings episode "More Like Stanksgiving." Photo Credit: Richard Foreman/ABC.
Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson and Eliza Coupe in the Happy Endings episode “More Like Stanksgiving.” Photo Credit: Richard Foreman/ABC.

In what is sadly Happy Endings’ only Thanksgiving episode, Max and Brad’s stint on The Real World is explored. While the rest of the gang watches the unaired season, Dave heads out to buy clams because it’s not Thanksgiving without clams. Along his journey, Dave’s car and wallet gets stolen by pilgrims. This is a Thanksgiving episode to watch with your friends, not your parents. Unless your parents know enough about pop culture to find the Real World tape funny and are perfectly comfortable with sex swing jokes.

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