Each Thanksgiving, Friends aired a special Thanksgiving episode. Not special as in "very special episode" but it usually involved all six Friends hanging out in Monica's apartment, but it was more special than all the other episodes they did that because holiday spirit! and turkey! and awkward family members!
In my opinion, 198 minutes (there are really only 9 exclusively Thanksgiving episodes of Friends; season two's doesn't really count, although Monica attempting to make Thanksgiving recipes out of Mockolate is hilarious. Too bad the FDA approval didn't turn out and Monica is allergic to cat hair) of Friends beats the three hours of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade any year, especially since Matt Lauer is getting more annoying by the day (I miss Ann, and Meredith), and I'm still curious how Savannah Guthrie got that co-anchor job, and Al Roker grates.
The following, a ranking* of all 9 Friends Thanksgiving episodes:
9. "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs" (season seven): Ross is typically obsessive in this episode, as he struggles to name all fifty states before he can eat dinner. Meanwhile Joey comes up with 56. Also Chandler fakes an allergy to dogs when really he actually hates them (continuity errors aside, how is this possible?). For the record: I love Clunkers.
Don't let the ranking fool you: this episode still has some absolutely hilarious lines, including this one.
8. "The One with the Late Thanksgiving" (season ten): There are three things I remember about this episode: 1. Rachel enters Emma in a baby pageant show, which was less awful eight years ago when Toddlers and Tiaras didn't exist; 2. Monica slaves over a Thanksgiving dinner only to have everyone but Chandler show up late. Then Joey's head gets stuck in the door. 3. Chandler and Monica learn they are going to be adoptive parents so really nothing else matters.
7. "The One Where Underdog Gets Away" (season one): This is a special one. I'm always struck by how funny this show is, almost twenty years later. How many sitcoms had humor that still resonates nearly two decades after they premiered? The funny part about this episode is that pretty much everyone plans to not be together on Thanksgiving; it's hard to believe such a situation since the eight other Thanksgiving episodes that followed this always assumed that the six Friends would spend the holiday with one another.
The Friends' first Thanksgiving together: good for sentimental points alone.
But in this episode we're introduced to Chandler's Thanksgiving hatred (a funny plotline that resurfaces in season five), Joey gets (fake) VD, Monica has to make like eleven different kinds of potatoes, and then the Underdog balloon gets away in the Macy's Parade and no one "got the keys" so everything burns and Chandler gladly serves everyone grilled cheese sandwiches instead of the usual turkey and fixings. If nothing else, we learn that no good can come of the Macy's Day Parade.
6. "The One with Chandler in a Box" (season four): In this one Monica gets ice in her eye and has to go to the eye doctor, only her ophthalmologist turns out to be Richard's son (played by a dreamy Michael Vartan). She invites him over for dinner, a kiss ensues, and it's obviously the weirdest thing ever (as Rachel says, it's like "inviting a Greek tragedy over for dinner").
Joey teaches Rachel how to curse in Italian.
Monica: "Fine! Laugh all you want but [to Ross] married a lesbian! [To Rachel] Left a man at the altar! [To Phoebe] Fell in love with a gay ice dancer! [To Joey] Threw a girl's wooden leg in a fire! [To Chandler] Live in a box!"
5. "The One with Rachel's Other Sister" (season nine): Oh, my God. This episode. Rachel's horrible and horribly hilarious sister Amy (played by the awesome Christina Applegate) shows up and is so un-self-aware and vicious and shallow and, yes, awesome. The climactic fight between Rachel and Amy at the end is golden.
4. "The One with All the Thanksgivings" (season five): Also known as the one where Ross and Chandler dress like the guys from Flock of Seagulls and Miami Vice, the return of Fat Monica, and the one where Monica puts a turkey on her head and Chandler tells her he loves her. Way back in the dark ages of VHS tapes, we had a box set of the "Top 10" Friends episodes, and this one was on it. Rest assured that nearly fifteen years later it's as funny as ever. Also: "Toes on Ice, coming soon to Madison Square Garden."
Rachel: Joey got a turkey stuck on his head?
Joey: Hey! It's not how it sounds.
Chandler: It is exactly how it sounds.
3. "The One with the Rumor" (season eight): Brad Pitt guest stars as Ross and Monica's high school friend who was in an "I Hate Rachel Green" club with Ross. Which is ironic because at the time Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston. Pitt's character Will also used to be fat, which is doubly ironic since Brad Pitt is physically flawless. It's a fun episode, campy and very meta for the show, although it's hard for me today to look back on it as fondly since I'm still bitter over Brangelina. #sorrynotsorry
2. "The One with the Football" (season three): This is a classic Friends episode, and not just of the Thanksgiving variety. Everyone was funny, and the sibling rivalry between Monica and Ross was actually endearing instead of slightly creepy. Plus, Joey thinks the Netherlands is where Tinker Bell and Peter Pan are from, Rachel goes "really long," and Phoebe and Rachel can't join the football league because they play on Sunday and Monday nights and Rachel works Monday nights.
Let's take a minute to appreciate the meta of Phoebe wearing a That Girl shirt. Because that girl was played by Marlo Thomas, who also plays Rachel's mother.
1. "The One Where Ross Got High" (season six): This one is really just a non-stop half-hour of hilarity. Literally everything is funny, and it's incredibly quotable. This is probably my family's favorite (my dad to this day still quotes "What's not to like? Custard: good. Jam: good. Meat: goooood"). Those last few minutes where everything hits the fan are unmatched throughout the series. Plus the bloopers are incredible.
"It tastes like feet!"
Start at the 2:52 mark for the bloopers of Ross and Joey eating the beef trifle thing.
*Ranking these episodes was tough. They're all good, and it was like choosing a favorite child, if I had children who were sitcom episodes.
What is your favorite Friends Thanksgiving episode?