Happy Thanksgiving, to the TV-obsessed
I am thankful for a lot in my life, including family, friends, good books, my health, pie, wine, sparkly flip-flops, headbands, red nail polish, and television. This Thanksgiving, I will be combining some of these reasons to be thankful for a Thanksgiving-themed TV marathon. As I spend the holiday in Colorado with some of my family, we will enjoy some of our favorite Thanksgiving-themed episodes of television. I love a good TV marathon more than almost anything (except pie!), so here are my picks for holiday viewing pleasure. Keep in mind that this list is not by any means comprehensive, and that it is in alphabetical order, rather than ranked by any other factors (sorry, I love to alphabetize things). Feel free to add your favorites in the comments. Also, some of these episodes are available to watch streaming online, so click on the pink links if you want to join in the fun but don’t own the DVDs. Enjoy!
Warning: Possible spoilers in the episode descriptions if you have not yet seen these episodes!
1. BEVERLY HILLS 90210: “The Kindness of Strangers” (season 3, episode 15, originally aired November 25th, 1992)
This episode offers all the heart-warming cheesiness that your heart could desire on Turkey Day. Time travel back to 1992, bad hair and all, to see Brandon bring home a homeless man for Thanksgiving. Drama ensues. Bonus: Dylan reunites with his father, a.k.a Roman Brady from Days of Our Lives. A self-righteous do-gooder AND a bad boy with daddy issues? Yes, some vintage West Beverly is just what your holiday plans were missing.
2. BEVERLY HILLS 90210: “Radar Love” (season 4, episode 13, originally aired November 24th, 1993)
Remember Emily Valentine? Brandon’s ex-girlfriend who used to be crazy, and then became his temporary soul-mate? Well, this is the episode in which Brandon and Emily are reunited, enjoying a whirlwind romance in San Francisco. Back in Beverly Hills, we’re treated to another lesson in why frat guys are bad news, and John Sears in particular. Yep, Dan Scott was not the first villain that Paul Johannson ever played. Oh, John, I hated you so. Also, there is a Walsh family dinner, punctuated with Kelly and Dylan drama. Love them! Andrea does stuff too, but I won’t bore you with the details.
3. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: “Pangs” (season 4, episode 8, originally aired November 23rd, 1999)
While this episode is not available for free streaming, it is on Hulu Plus and Netflix Instant. This is the only Thanksgiving episode that the Scoobies celebrated on screen, and things did not go well for our gang. Do they ever? It’s hard to be a Scoob. Among other things, this is the episode in which Xander’s you-know-what got diseases from a Chumash tribe—providing comedic material for “Once More With Feeling” lyrics two seasons later. Also a headline, Spike is starving, due to the chip that the Initiative put in his head, and he goes to Buffy and company for help. The beginning of an unlikely alliance, that would last for years. Oh, and Angel came in from L.A. to stalk Buffy, for old times’ sake. The usual. Definitely a fun episode to re-watch (over and over again).
4. DAWSON’S CREEK: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (season 3, episode 8, originally aired November 24th, 1999)
Jen hooks up with Pacey, plus her estranged mother comes to visit for Thanksgiving. Busy week. There is much family and relationship drama all around Capeside, the better for your holiday viewing pleasure. (Just ignore the hint that Eve is Jen’s long-lost sister—the writers sure did.) Oh, and the glimpse into Pacey’s home life might make you cry. Have tissues handy.
Everwood is pretty much the perfect show for Thanksgiving—full of tear-jerker moments, in an environment that is perpetually Fall and Winter. I just want to curl up under a blanket and drink some cocoa when I watch this show. In this episode, Ephram tries to recreate his mother’s Thanksgiving traditions for his little sister, Delia, but it does go well. This first Thanksgiving that the Browns celebrate without their mother is just heart-breaking, but also full of unexpected sweetness. Also, Dr. Brown’s patient has a fascinating back-story, which frames the episode beautifully.
6. EVERWOOD: “Unhappy Holidays” (season 2, episode 10, originally aired November 24th, 2003)
I don’t remember this episode as well as “A Thanksgiving Tale,” but it is Everwood, so it belongs on this list. This is the one where Dr. Brown finds out that Ephram and Madison are hooking up. So wrong. Also, there is some drama with Linda (Marcia Cross), who is Dr. Brown’s girlfriend and Dr. Abott’s sister. Since the two docs don’t exactly get along … awkward. At this point, Amy was dating bad-boy Tommy (Paul Wasilewski, a.k.a. Paul Wesley). Yeah, the more I think about this episode, the more necessary it is for it to be included in my marathon. The more opportunities to watch Stefan Salvatore as a violent drug-using bad-boy, the better. Will it top his appearance as Donnie, the fist-bumping, gun-wielding waiter in The O.C.? This is the type of mystery that only a re-watch can solve. I’m doing this for science.
7. FELICITY: “Thanksgiving” (season 1, episode 8, originally aired November 17th, 1998)
I love Felicity so. So beautifully written and acted, despite all the sweaters and hair drama. Felicity’s first Thanksgiving away from home proves to be an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between her new makeshift family in New York. Perfect holiday heart-warminess. There is also much angst and awkwardness, as Noel’s girlfriend, Hannah (played by the lovely Jennifer Garner) comes to visit. Also, Felicity and Noel kiss in the bathroom, and Ben walks in and sees. Since Noel and Felicity in a lip-lock is not one of my favorite things, I like to think of this moment as the beginning for Ben and Felicity. From here on out, Ben will start to look at Felicity in a new way. I’m delusional, you say? Um … whatever.
8. FELICITY: “Family Affairs” (season 2, episode 8, originally aired November 21st, 1999)
Luckily, there are more Thanksgivings to be had for Felicity. One is just not enough. In this season two episode, Ben is involved with an older woman, Maggie, and things become more complicated when he finally meets her husband. Also, Felicity is dating David, the son of her art professor, and she begins to feel some pressure to get more serious than she wants to. The pressure builds on Thanksgiving, as Felicity celebrates with her parents, boyfriend, professor … and Noel. Since Felicity always makes wise relationship decisions, this of course drives her into Noel’s arms, while her boyfriend David is in the next room. Oops. Oh, and David’s mom, who also happens to be responsible for Felcity’s grade, catches the illicit kiss. Double oops.
9. FELICITY: “The Last Thanksgiving” (season 4, episode 8, originally aired November 28th, 2001)
Fast forward to season four, and Felicity and Ben have already dated and broken up, and dated again, and broken up again. This latest time, Felicity cheated on Ben, and he can’t get past it. Meghan tries to help her friend out, so she and Sean arrange a Thanksgiving dinner at Felicity and Elena’s apartment, inviting the estranged couple. Sadly, Ben brings a date. Even more sadly, his date is Lauren, his dad’s A.A. sponsee (possibly not a word, but you know what I mean). Ugh, Lauren. While Ben and Felicity are temporarily reunited, the sex doesn’t change anything. Ben still can’t forgive Felicity. So tragic.
10. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: “Thanksgiving,” (season 4, episode 13, originally aired February 10th, 2010)
The season four finale is perfection, and it will leave you in tears, as Friday Night Lights so often does. An uplifting football victory, Thanksgiving dinner at the Taylors, Matt’s return to Dillon, Tim sacrificing himself for his family—what more could you ask for?
11. GILMORE GIRLS: “Kiss and Tell” (season 1, episode 7, originally aired November 16th, 2000)
This is one of my very favorite Gilmore Girls episodes. “I got kissed … and I shoplifted!” Can that moment be beat? I think not. Every time I look at corn starch (which, I’ll admit, is not often), I think of Rory and Dean. Also, Rory and Lane in pilgrim outfits! Lorelai, Rory, and Dean watching Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory together! Everyone in town trying to catch a glimpse of Rory’s new boyfriend! My family needs to hurry back from grocery shopping so that we can get started on this marathon A.S.A.P. I mean, yeah, we need food for Thanksgiving, but isn’t Gilmore Girls more important?
12. GILMORE GIRLS: “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” (season 3, episode 9, originally aired November 26th, 2002)
If I had to pick the best Thanksgiving-themed episode of television, the prize might go to this one. Rory and Lorelai prove their eating skills, as the two make the rounds through four Thanksgiving dinners. The secret? Skip the rolls. (Something I could never do.) There is dinner at the Gilmores, dinner with Luke and Jess, dinner with the Kims, and dinner with Sookie and Jackson. FYI, deep fried turkey frightens me. Bonus: Adam Brody! “This Bible belongs to God but is being used by Dave Rygalski.”
13. GILMORE GIRLS: “He’s Slippin’ ‘Em Bread … Dig?” (season 6, episode 10, originally aired November 22nd, 2005)
Okay, I cannot decide for you how traumatic season six of Gilmore Girls is. That’s a decision that every viewer must make for his or herself. Personally, I will watch any episode of Gilmore Girls, any time, any place. Though my Blu-ray player did break when Christopher and Lorelai had sex in the season six finale. No joke. My Blu-ray player (RIP, you beautiful machine), was not a fan of Christopher. So, warning to those with sentient electronics, this episode features Christopher. It also features Luke keeping secrets from Lorelai—or rather, one big secret. Wow, I am really selling this one, huh? On a positive note, Rory and Lorelai are finally reunited after their long estrangement. Yay! Also, Lorelai tricks Rory into putting sugar on her toes. Hee.
14. GOSSIP GIRL: “Blair Waldorf Must Pie” (season 1, episode 9, originally aired November 28, 2007)
Love triangles, lies, family drama, schemes, and secrets. Just another Thanksgiving on the Upper East Side. After a roller coaster of emotion, things actually end pretty sweetly for Blair and company.
15. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: “Belly Full of Turkey” (season 1, episode 9, originally aired November 21st, 2005)
Lily and Marshall visit the Eriksen family in Saint Cloud, Minnesota for Thanksgiving, and Lily has a pregnancy scare. Also, Robin and Ted volunteer at a homeless shelter for Thanksgiving, and are surprised to learn that Barney is “Volunteer of the Year.” Hilarity ensues. What is a sadder way to spend Thanksgiving? In jail, or in a strip club? You decide.
16. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: “Slapsgiving” (season 3, episode 9, originally aired November 19th, 2007)
Epic. The How I Met Your Mother episode to define all How I Met Your Mother episodes. Just watch this clip to see for yourself:
Yes, that really just happened.
17. PARTY OF FIVE: “Thanksgiving” (season 1, episode 10, originally aired November 14th, 1994)
“Has anyone seen my plaid shirt and my floppy hat?” Oh, Salingers, I miss you so. This first Thanksgiving on their own, following the death of their parents, is made even harder when the drunk driver who killed their parents is released from prison. Intense.
Ryan returns to Chino to steal a car for Trey. The things you do for family. On said trip, Marissa meets Theresa for the first time. Awkward. Back in Newport, everyone bands together to prevent Kirsten from cooking, but the turkey is ruined anyway. I guess Seth was too busy kissing both Anna and Summer to be vigilant. Oh, Seth. Summer is your lobster, just accept that already.
Another Thanksgiving at the Cohens, but this time it doesn’t end with ordering Chinese food. But don’t worry, there is still lots of drama to be had—least of which is that Taylor shows up married! Julie is dating Neil, Summer’s dad, but the drama with Volchock has served to divide them. Yes, Marissa’s death is still haunting Newport, though Sandy tries to find a way for Ryan to move on.