5. The Simpsons: “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”
In this early Simpsons episode, Bart ruins the holiday by accidentally throwing the centerpiece Lisa has made into the fireplace. By the end of the episode lessons are learned and leftovers are consumed, but like the best Simpsons episodes, the writers manage to strike a perfect balance between honestly exploring American tradition and skewering it for laughs.
4. Friends: “The One with the Football”
Similar to “Bart vs. Thanksgiving,” this Friends episode pivots around the fulcrum of sibling rivalry, but here another American Thanksgiving tradition is invoked more fully: football! While Chandler and Joey vie for the attention of a sexy Dutch woman (who just hangs around the park on Thanksgiving — dressed like she’s on her way to a nightclub — and watches strangers play touch football for some reason), Monica and Ross regress to childhood as they fight to claim ownership of The Geller Cup, or as Chandler notes: “Is everyone else seeing a troll doll nailed to a 2×4?”
3. Seinfeld: “The Mom & Pop Store”
“The Mom & Pop Store” is most likely to be remembered as the episode in which Jon Voight bites Kramer, but after that most will remember that this is the episode in which Elaine wins a radio contest for Mr. Pitt so that he can hold the Woody Woodpecker balloon during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The many threads of this episode’s storyline come to a head at Tim Whatley’s pre-Thanksgiving party, where Jerry inadvertently knocks a statue out the window, piercing the Woody Woodpecker balloon which was being inflated on the street below. Pic via.
2. Dexter: “Hungry Man”
You didn’t think they’d all be sitcoms, did you? How about Thanksgiving with a serial killer or two? Sure! Although the quality of Dexter may have just started to waver at this point in the show’s life, this episode exemplifies everything this show does right by using Thanksgiving as a vehicle to explore family dysfunction much darker and scarier than the bickering many of us associate with the holiday.
1. Mad Men: “Dark Shadows”
Betty struggles with her weight loss, and Sally learns about Anna in this season 5 episode of Mad Men. This episode divided critics and audiences. While there were certainly other reasons, I think much of this came down to how you felt about Betty’s characterization and storyline in this season. I happened to love it. Watching Betty say, “I’m thankful that I have everything I want…and that no one has anything better,” and then cutting to her sad plate of barely-there Thanksgiving food was the episode’s perfect final moment.
What are some of your favorites?
Top pic: Wikimedia Commons