Pop Culture

No turkeys! Best Thanksgiving TV episodes

“Friends” (“The One Where Ross Got High”)

“Friends” Thanksgiving episodes were annual classics — the Underdog balloon, Chandler in a box, Monica’s worst Thanksgiving, and Brad Pitt’s guest spot as a co-founder of the “I Hate Rachel Club,” to name a few. But “The One Where Ross Got High” takes the cake — or trifle. Ross and Monica’s parents, who never liked Chandler because Ross told them Chandler smoked pot in college, didn’t know Monica was dating and living with Chandler. The truth was Ross was the real pot smoker. Meanwhile, Rachel baked a traditional English trifle — with ground beef.

“Gilmore Girls” (“A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving”)

Lorelai and Rory found themselves stopping at three Thanksgiving feasts in Stars Hollow before heading out to Richard and Emily’s for a formal dinner. They suffered through “Tofurkey” at Lane’s, a deep-fried turkey experience in Sookie’s front yard, and a good, solid Thanksgiving meal at Luke’s. Meanwhile, Rory struggled with going public with her relationship with Jess. But the drama and genuine family awkwardness really kicked in when our girls made it to Richard and Emily’s, and Lorelai was shocked to discover that Rory had applied to Yale, which was already a contentious topic.

“The West Wing” (“Shibboleth”)

A classic episode in a series full of them was “The West Wing’s” Thanksgiving-themed presentation in which President Bartlet and his administration had some serious and humorous decisions to make. The most pressing concern hinged on a shipload of illegal immigrants from China who were seeking asylum as persecuted Christians. The pilgrim reference aside, things were lightened up a bit as C.J. had to decide which of two live turkeys that had been stashed in her office would get the traditional Presidential pardon while the other would land in an oven.

“Northern Exposure” (“Thanksgiving”)

The tables are turned in Cicely, Alaska, where the local Inuit population celebrates the “Day of the Dead” and marks the Thanksgiving holiday by flinging tomatoes at white folks, who warmly accept the collegial punishment — with one notable exception. Dr. Joel Fleischman, who is Jewish, doesn’t understand the ritual and staunchly believes that because of his ethnicity, he’s not white. Joel gets hit with another metaphorical tomato when he learns he owes the state of Alaska one more year of medical service. Meanwhile, ex-convict Chris recalls his best Thanksgiving memories came during his time served in prison.

“South Park” (“Starvin’ Marvin”)

One of the greatest moments in “South Park’s” smash debut season involved an attack on the town by a flock of mutant, genetically engineered turkeys, and the arrival of a starving “Ethernopian” named Marvin. Dr. Mephisto, the crazy geneticist, hoped to feed the hungry with his turkey clones, but they grew out of control and threatened to take over the town, if not the world. In the end, it took a “Braveheart”-inspired battle for the town to save itself and eventually get Marvin back home, where he received a hero’s welcome after he brought the thousands of turkeys with him.

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