With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s important to have a game plan in case you need some peace amidst the impending chaos. And what better way to take a few moments off than by watching TV? Whether you’re sick and tired of your racist uncle trying to start fights with everyone, or you’re just chilling by yourself and would like to get a taste of all that familial dysfunction without leaving the comfort of your bed, the vast expanse of television turkey days has something for everyone. So sit back, relax and check out some of the best Thanksgiving episodes, presented in no particular order. And pass the mashed potatoes.
“Master of None” Season 2, Episode 8, “Thanksgiving” available on Netflix
Although this list doesn’t claim to rank any of these fine episodes, it is hard to imagine a better start than this smart, funny and touching look at what it means to grow up in a family that doesn’t always understand you. “Master of None” itself usually follows Aziz Ansari’s Dev, but this episode is all about writer Lena Waithe’s Denise and her struggles with coming out as gay to her family. It’s sprawling in nature, following Denise’s family Thanksgivings as she goes from a kid dodging questions about when she’ll get a boyfriend to a grown woman bringing her girlfriend to the festivities. And it’s funny too, with excellent moments of perfectly placed comedic nostalgia as Dev and Denise grow up around the table. Don’t just take my word for it though; this episode earned Waithe an Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Emmy, making her the first African American woman to take home the award. So open up that Netflix account and be a part of history.
“Bob’s Burgers” Season 4, Episode 5, “Turkey in a Can” available on Hulu
It’s nearly impossible to pick just one episode from “Bob’s Burgers” impressive list of Thanksgiving specials, but if it has to be done, then it should be this one. Come for the hilariously dramatic plot, which involves the main character (Bob himself) frantically trying to cook a turkey in time, but finding that all his previous attempts end up mysteriously placed in the toilet. And stay for one of the most iconic scenes of recent memory, which involves Bob’s accidentally flirtatious encounters with the deli man who keeps on selling him the turkeys. All in all, the dysfunctional, but ultimately loving, nature of the Belcher family will help heal any frayed familial nerves, so take a break and explore all that “Bob’s” has to offer for the season.
“Friends” Season 5, Episode 8, “’The One With All the Thanksgiving Flashbacks” available on Netflix
Just like “Bob’s” this iconic series has made a name for itself as a provider of quality Thanksgiving content. And this episode is the perfect introduction. Here, the show’s main characters, the Friends, if you will, look back on all sorts of their terrible Thanksgiving memories through the years. You get the humor of seeing beloved characters live their most awkward moments, plus the excellent throw-back hairstyles and fashions, which are reason enough to tune in by themselves. In an age where Friendsgivings are king, be sure to take the time to throwback to the original gathering of adopted family.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” Season 1, Episode 10, “Thanksgiving” available on Hulu
For “Nine-Nine” fans and newbies alike, this under the radar classic offers a fun throwback to the simpler days in our favorite Brooklyn precinct. The episode follows an often unexplored concept – the forced togetherness of Thanksgiving mixed with the intricacies of work relationships – to fun and awkward results. Not to mention the fact that it’s fun to watch cops mess up the holiday, just like the rest of us. And if you like the episode, then you have the perfect excuse to just keep on watching the rest of the series’ six seasons. Sorry family, but I can’t come out for pie. I’m busy.
“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Season 1, Episode 7, “Feast of Feasts” available on Netflix
Listen, it’s been a long day and you’ve seen all the fun, loving and ultimately positive Thanksgiving content you can handle. Now you want to see some people rip out each others’ throats. Well, then this is the episode for you. Although “Sabrina” itself tends to lose focus as a series, this dark spin on mortal Thanksgiving perfectly captures one of the series’ greatest strengths – it’s scathing look at toxic, powerful, patriarchy- in a truly unsettling, supernatural package. I don’t want to spoil the spooky surprise, but let’s just say that the witches’ holiday meal involves a tradition much less wholesome than a post-turkey football game. You’ll come out of this episode feeling rested, recharged and ready to go to war with that uncle about why we still need feminism, thank you very much.