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Watch These Thanksgiving TV Episodes When You Need To Disassociate From Your Family

When the family conversation turns to politics and you’ve had to unbuckle your pants just to be able to breathe, you know it’s time to sneak off and watch one of your favorite shows. You don’t want to watch anything new, considering all your focus is going into digesting those rock-hard yams Mom insisted you try to be polite. 

So instead, it’s time to return to a favorite, and what could be better than a Thanksgiving-themed episode of a classic? They literally require zero brain power and don’t have much influence over the greater plot.

From Jason Derulo to kissing critique, British desserts to booty shots, here are the 10 best Thanksgiving episodes.

1. Gossip Girl — Literally Whatcha Say?

Season 3, Episode 1

If I ever did a PhD, it would be on this one Gossip Girl episode. Or rather, just on that scene at the dinner table when “Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo plays. I promise I could fill an entire dissertation with an analysis of this one scene. 

This is the best of all Thanksgiving episodes EVER and I will not accept anyone saying differently. It’s a true boiling pot. 

Serena has been having an affair with Tripp (Nate’s cousin/some kind of politician, idk is he meant to be AOC?). But Lily doesn’t know this and invites him and his estranged wife Maureen… oopsie! Vanessa and her mom are there and have beef but we don’t really care when it involves Vanessa. Blair thinks her mom is preggers and is super pissed about it (she isn’t, dw guys). Jenny finds out Eric was responsible for sabotaging her at Cotillion (I legit didn’t know it was spelled like that, wow, new knowledge I’ll definitely use every day). And FINALLY, Lily’s mom lets slip that Lily has been lying to her Rufus. What a mouthful.

Then they all get up and storm off like toddlers with a tantrum and it’s amazing. The best line of the episode is Blair telling Serena, “If you’re gonna be sad, you might as well be sad in Paris.” So true, Blair! Lemme book a ticket right now to cure my seasonal depression xoxo

2. Friends — I’ll Hate Rachel If You Want Me To

Season 8, Episode 9

Honestly, it is HARD to pick out of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes because they just kept giving them to us. And no, I definitely didn’t pick this episode because of Brad Pitt and the fact that he was married to Jennifer at the time, and that it makes their feud so fricken’ cute. Not at all. I like the cinematography.

So Will (played by Brad Pitt) went to high school with Monica, Ross, and Rachel, and joins for Thanksgiving. He reveals he LOATHES Rachel and in high school, he and Ross had an ‘I Hate Rachel Green’ club. This leads to many hilarious rumors being shared from their high school days, some of which turn out to be true…

Additionally, Monica doesn’t want to make a whole turkey but Joey insists, so he is tasked with finishing the entire thing. I mean, what could be more relatable? It’s like when you go to a restaurant and tell a friend you’re STARVING, so you order a bunch of starters as well as main courses, and then you’re too full for dessert but you just can’t admit defeat.

3. New Girl —Invite Me To Your Bangsgiving

Season 4, Episode 9

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a stop in New Girl. The entire crew is single at the same time so Schmidt declares that they’ll throw a Bangsgiving. They each have to bring a date for one other person. 

Jess is paired with her work crush when Coach invites him, and it’s a lot of cute British flirting. Nick brings Tran as his own date, which is just so him. Coach gets paired with Pepper, a muscular woman he is ridiculously intimidated by. Winston has to overcome some kind of cafeteria trauma with Pearl the Lunch Lady. Schmit and CeCe’s dates don’t come, oh no, what a shame, fine by me.

I want to go to a Bangsgiving after watching this, so feel free to invite me as a date for one of your roommates.

4. Glee — Turkey Lurkey Might Be An Actual Crime

Season 4, Episode 8

Okay, so this episode falls in the later Glee years that we collectively try to forget. I still have nightmares about “What does the fox say?” *shiver*. But it is just so absurd and terrible that I adore it.

Quinn, Santana, and Brittney are reunited and show off to the new kids with a performance. Love the Holy Trinity back together!! The newbies are planning to sing “Gangnam Style” for Sectionals, which feels like a real problem…

But the real fun is in New York, where Rachel and Kurt are hosting Thanksgiving in their HUGE LOFT. Kurt invites his boss, Isabelle (CARRIE BRADSHAW? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?) to Thanksgiving, and for some reason she actually comes, like with friends even. She performs the best and worst song of season four (which is saying something), “Let’s Have a Kiki/ Turkey Lurkey Time.” It is atrocious and I may have made it my alarm.

5. The O.C. — Pick Summer Duh

Season 1, Episode 11

While all three seasons of The O.C. are amazing (I just pretend the fourth doesn’t exist, it’s a happier place to be), nothing beats season one and the incredible start to show. This is not only my favorite Thanksgiving episode of The O.C., but my favorite episode of the show, full stop. 

Ryan goes to visit his brother Trey in prison and reluctantly brings Marissa, who is pretty snobbish about the whole experience. Kirstin’s dad, Caleb, and Marissa’s mom, Julie, have started dating which is super awkward. Sandy and Kirstin try to set up Marissa’s dad, Jimmy, with Sandy’s colleague, Rachel, which is so obvious and strange and definitely confirms Sandy’s crush on her. 

But the real treat is Seth’s love triangle!! We wait with bated breath to see whether he’ll pick Summer or Anna, and then watch in horror as he tries to juggle them both. And of course, it all ends with a burnt turkey. Bon appetit!

6. 90210 — Not Quite Burning, But Hot Enough

Season 4, Episode 10

So much of 90210 feels like some strange fever dream now, and there aren’t many Thanksgiving episodes to choose from, but this one makes the cut.

So it starts kinda sad as Liam is throwing a Thanksgiving as he never had one growing up (cry on my shoulder bby), but then his estranged mom turns up! Uh oh, drama! Dixon gets a holiday break from rehab (I really don’t know if it works like that) and tells everyone he’s still touring. We’ve heard his music, no one believes that excuse. And then Naomi is her usual horndog self and we love her for it, she is the pumpkin pie of this episode and she just wants to get her filling. I am so sorry, I deserve to be arrested for that one.

7. Brooklyn 99 — Locked Up Yikes

Season 2, Episode 7

Despite almost all of the Brooklyn 99 episodes taking place primarily in the precinct, there is something special about this episode as they’re all forced to remain. They’re on lockdown! No, it isn’t the pandemic, but rather a weird package filled with white powder that has to be investigated. 

It’s fun to see Jake struggle in a leadership role as the escalation slowly increases to a burning point. He is always the Nice Guy and is forced out of this role for once. Also seeing Terry struggle with his brother-in-law Zeke, and become a meek and small version of himself is hilarious to watch.

8. Friends — In Defense Of The Trifle 

Season 6, Episode 9

Yes, there are two Friends episode on this list and I’m not even going to apologize for that (someone tell my therapist that I’m setting boundaries!!). I stopped developing a personality after watching Friends, so this is all I have.

This is just such a fun little silly episode. Monica’s parents are there causing mayhem as always. Phoebe has a dream about Jack and becomes sexually attracted as a result (happens to all of us) and Ross has to admit he once blamed Chandler for marijuana he had smoked (happens to all of us too). Rachel is making a trifle but gets the pages stuck together, so everyone conspires to pretend to enjoy it. I love that Ross does this to spare her feelings, while Chandler and Joey do it to get out of there quicker.

For years, I have been FASCINATED by the trifle. I am absolutely hooked on the idea of it. Does it sound disgusting? Yes. Have I been a vegetarian for over eight years? Yes. Would I still eat it if Jennifer Anniston made it for me? YES.

9. Gilmore Girls — I Don’t See the Issue

Season 3, Episode 9

The dilemma of this Gilmore Girls episode isn’t much of an issue in my humble opinion: Rory and Lorelai are invited to four Thanksgivings and have to go to all of them. Sounds great, let me grab those maternity Santa pants from the Friends episode. 

This episode stands out for the ADORABLE kiss shared by Lane and Dave which makes me feel so gooey inside.

But every time I watch this episode, I have to refrain from screaming when Lorelai criticizes Rory’s first kiss with Jess. Like ew, you’re her mom, why are you watching? Why are you offering an opinion? Get out of here. 

Also, Lorelai being mad at Rory for wanting to go to Yale is a mindfuck. Like what’s the issue here?

10. Grey’s Anatomy — Shot In Da Booty

Season 2, Episode 9

And finally, let’s stop off at Seattle Grace Hospital (I think that was the name back then, it’s changed too many times for me to keep track). This is in what I like to call the “Golden Era of Grey’s Anatomy.”

This is before Izzie became the worst character ever and she’s being a total homebody and trying to organize Thanksgiving for everyone. She wants to make the perfect dinner but has no clue how, as she can bake not cook. So you get to enjoy a bunch of doctors struggling with a turkey and getting progressively more drunk.

Another highlight is George (RIP!!!!!) being dragged off to go turkey hunting with his brothers, and accidentally shooting his dad in the ass. Ouch. 

Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman, a European-based copywriter. She’s interesting (cause she’s from Europe), speaks multiple languages (again, she's from Europe), and is mentally unhinged (despite socialized healthcare). You can find her European musings on Twitter @ByFleurine and her blog, Symptoms of Living, both of which are written to the sounds of unhinged Taylor Swift playlists.