You’re getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner and your family’s arrival, from prepping food in the kitchen to cleaning the house, but you want to watch something festive in the background. It’s too early for Christmas movies, so what screams Thanksgiving spirit besides the turkey?
The hit TBS show “Friends” has been a classic since the very beginning, with its perfect combination of humor and heartwarming moments. Right from the start, they feel as if they’re our friends, and after the final episode, we feel as though we’ve parted ways. The show also has a Thanksgiving episode almost every season! So what better TV show to put on while cooking in the kitchen and preparing for the family reunion than “Friends”?
Season 1, Episode 9 – ‘The One Where Underdog Gets Away’
The first Thanksgiving episode starts with Monica (Courteney Cox) and Ross (David Schwimmer) finding out their parents will be out of town and the two siblings will be alone for the holiday. Monica decides to cook her first Thanksgiving dinner in her apartment. Soon, each of the other friends decides to stick around for dinner as well. Chandler (Matthew Perry) insists that he’s not partaking due to unpleasant Thanksgiving memories but sticks around anyway. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) has been uninvited by his family because they think he has VD since he was in an advertisement on TV for it. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) can’t afford to join her family in Vail.
As the gang hangs out at the apartment and watches the parade on TV, the Underdog balloon gets loose. They rush to the balcony to watch it go by – accidentally locking themselves out of the apartment. The dinner burns and the group winds up having grilled cheese for dinner, to Chandler’s delight.
We’ve all had that first holiday away from our families. “Friends” does a wonderful job of playing on that double-edged emotion of missing out while also creating a new tradition for yourself.
Season 3, Episode 9 – ‘The One with the Football’
After a successful Thanksgiving dinner at Monica’s, the gang is inspired to play a friendly game of football in the park. The old Geller sibling rivalry sparks as the group plays girls versus boys. Rachel and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) prove to be useless, and Chandler and Joey are distracted by a pretty Dutch girl who watches the game. It comes down to the Gellers to sway the game one way or the other, using any trick necessary.
Honestly, who hasn’t had a bit of sibling rivalry rear its head during a “friendly” game? We’ve all experienced it or at least seen it happen. When it’s on TV, though, you can laugh it off.
Season 5, Episode 8 – ‘The One with All the Thanksgivings’
After their traditional Thanksgiving feast, courtesy of Monica, the group regales each other with their worst Thanksgiving memories. Chandler shares his hatred of the holiday after his gay father announced his parents' divorce at the dinner table. Rachel reminds the group of the time Joey got the turkey stuck on his head and scared Monica. Then Monica tells about the first time she met Chandler when Ross brought him home for Thanksgiving and he called her fat. This is lastly topped by the following year, when Monica tried to get revenge on Chandler for the comment and accidentally chopped off one of his toes.
This episode is wonderful for many reasons, one of which is swapping stories and having that natural impulse to have another story to top it. In the process, we share pieces of ourselves with our friends and families.
Season 8, Episode 9 – ‘The One with the Rumor’
Ross’s friend Will (Brad Pitt) is invited to join the six friends for Thanksgiving dinner. However, tensions rise as they soon realize that Will hates Rachel and that he and Ross had started the “I-Hate-Rachel-Greene-Club.” They wind up sharing outrageous rumors they had spread about each other, and the fighting finally ends when Monica reminds them they should focus on important things, such as Rachel and Ross having a baby together.
This episode clearly demonstrates that sometimes the past should stay in the past when it comes to small things. Drudging it up is only upsetting and can be irrelevant to present situations. Plus, it’s fun and hilarious to watch Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s banter onscreen (they were married at the time).
Season 9, Episode 8 – ‘The One with Rachel’s Other Sister’
For season 9’s Thanksgiving episode, Rachel’s middle sister, Amy, shows up unexpectedly. Amy does nothing but put wedges in the group, remembering Ross as the crazy boy who had a crush on Rachel, and Monica as the fat girl who followed Rachel around in high school. Continuing with her insensitivity, Amy asks Rachel and Ross who would get baby Emma if they died. She’s shocked and angry when they tell her that Monica and Chandler would get custody. While all this unfolds, Monica worries about her new china that she got as a wedding present. Though the dishes make it through dinner unscathed, Chandler accidentally knocks over the box they are in, shattering them.
Who doesn’t remember that one grandparent who harped on handling china carefully? We all have that one family member who obsessed over it. Here, it’s playfully done with Monica somewhat oblivious to serious conversations around her.
Season 10, Episode 8 – ‘The One with the Late Thanksgiving’
In the final season’s Thanksgiving episode, Monica doesn’t want to host or cook, but the rest of the group begs her to reconsider. Then, everyone shows up late, risking Monica’s wrath. Phoebe enters Emma into a toddler beauty contest. At first, Rachel is thoroughly against the idea, but then she hears the prize is $1,000. Ross gets tickets to the New York Rangers game and takes Joey with him. Monica and Chandler are so upset by everyone's bad behavior that they lock the group out of the apartment. When they all arrive they get the door as far open as they can with the chain bolt in place and are taunted by Monica’s delish dinner display. To top things off, Joey gets his head stuck.
People arrive late to events all the time. What matters is how you deal with it – hopefully not by locking them out!