The greatest thing about TV is that it makes us feel something. And it makes us feel even more during the holidays, with its influx of cheerful holiday-themed episodes that we can watch with our families. Here are our top picks for the best Thanksgiving episodes to enjoy with your family today.
How I Met Your Mother—“Slapsgiving”
While this sitcom certainly has some eyebrow-raising lines on the rewatch, its Slap Bet storyline between Marshall and Barney remains one of the great running jokes in modern sitcoms. The gag reaches its peak in the epic third-season episode “Slapsgiving,” when the friends’ Thanksgiving table is put under a Hitchcockian amount of stress thanks to a countdown clock ticking toward the climactic strike.
This episode came during our first season with the 99th precinct, but it did a fine job of underscoring exactly why we would grow to love all these characters. Amy Santiago is at her brown-nosing best as the hapless host of the meal, Terry’s stacking calories, Jake’s being a man-child and Captain Holt is catching perps. Jokes abound, but the episode’s ending puts a nice holiday bow on all the high jinks. At the end of the day, they all had their true family right there. Aw.
Mad Men—“The Wheel”
Is this the best Thanksgiving episode ever? It might be bold to say considering it doesn’t include the holiday meal itself, but nonetheless, the family pressures that come with Thanksgiving pervade every minute of this mournful, profound Mad Men hour. Don Draper’s pitch to Kodak is one of the great dramatic scenes of the new millennium, but its ultimate payoff—the episode’s wrenching and cruel ending—will make you want to hug your nearest loved one and never let go. It’s not a cheerful hour, but it’s beautiful, and sometimes that’s just like Thanksgiving.
Gossip Girl—“The Treasure of Serena Madre”
We know, we know. This show is chock full of unnecessary drama. But isn’t that what makes it kind of hilarious?
Gossip Girl’s Thanksgiving-themed episodes are notorious to fans of the show, but truthfully, they’re hardly about the actual holiday at all. There’s a Thanksgiving episode each season, but each one is packed with the same deranged drama as the last—just centered around a turkey dinner. Who needs holiday cheer when you’ve got family drama, am I right?
If we had to choose one episode that takes the pumpkin pie, we’d choose Season 3, Episode 11. You could cut the tension at the dinner table with a butter knife, all while Jason Derulo’s “Whatcha Say?” plays in the background. There are a lot of quippy lines, but the best clap back comes from Eric Van Der Woodsen when he turns to Jenny Humphrey and says, “Your sweet potatoes are bland.” OOoooof.
(Disclaimer: This might not be the best episode to watch with Meemaw, but if you need some quality time with your sister, this is it.)
Friends—“The One with the Football”
What’s a Thanksgiving without a little backyard football with the whole family? Emotions run amok when the Friends gang carries out a Geller tradition by playing a game of touch football on Thanksgiving, where the winner takes the “Geller cup.” This is a Thanksgiving classic that we could watch again and again.
This Is Us—“Six Thanksgivings”
This Is Us is probably the most emotional show on TV right now. And its latest episode, “Six Thanksgivings” is (surprise) no different. The episode offers glimpses into six very different Thanksgiving traditions among the Pearsons between each of their families. The Thanksgiving element kind of makes you forget about the dark raincloud that tends to hang over the Pearson family, and makes you want to join their table for a meal.
So here’s to the episodes we plan on watching this morning, and later on the couch with our jeans unbuttoned. What are your top picks?
(Photo credit: IMDb)