I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched Friends. For years this sitcom, between its ten years on the air and when it was broadcast constantly in syndication, largely defined my life. But lately it feels like I have to go on the hunt to watch Friends now that it has been replaced by Two and a Half Men (barf) and How I Met Your Mother in the land of sitcom syndication.
There was one episode theme Friends never missed out on: Thanksgiving. For ten princeless episodes, everything imaginable happened: touch football, severed toes, heads stuck in turkeys, fighting between friends and family, and one time, even Brad Pitt swung by.
These episodes (you can currently watch them on Fancast) are gems and a treat to watch in retrospective now that Friends has been over for almost seven years. Here are my favorite moments from these episodes, which I had the pleasure of revisiting this afternoon.
Season 1: The One Where Underdog Gets Away
“I am glad all of your Thanksgivings sucked.” – Chandler
As the very first Thanksgiving-themed Friends episode, this one set the standard for what every episode after would touch on. The group gets together (although this year they all had other, better plans). Monica cooks and is generally neurotic and Chandler vents about one particularly crappy Thanksgiving, and the Thanksgiving Day Parade takes front and center with a runaway balloon.
When Monica (or Rachel, depending who you ask) forgets the keys and dinner is ruined, the Friends Thanksgiving tradition was born.
Season 2: The One With the List
“This is a song about a love triangle I made up last night. It’s called: Two of them Kissed Last Night.” – Phoebe
This episode is less about the meal. The Ross-Rachel relationship is in its beginning, still cute stage. Will he break up with Julie and choose Rachel? He makes a list of pros and cons at Chandler’s suggestion that (duh) gets back to Rachel. Whoopsie. There is also Mockolate, which tastes like evil, and Chandler’s swanky new laptop computer.
Season 3: The One With the Football
“Cheater, cheater, compulsive eater.” Ross, taunting Monica.
The sibling rivalry between Monica and Ross escalates this Thanksgiving to a touch football game for the Gellar Cup. It’s an intense battle of sibling rivalry. Oh, and one Dutch girl who Joey and Chandler fight over.
Season 4: The One with Chandler’s in a Box
Chandler has to make amends with Joey for kissing his girlfriend. Naturally, he climbs into a box. Monica wears an eye patch and tries to flirt with her cute eye doctor (hey, Michael Vartan) who is also her ex-boyfriend’s son. Awkward.
My favorite scene is embedded below.
Season 5: The One With All The Thanksgivings
“Reliving past pain and getting depressed is what Thanksgiving is all about. For me anyway and the Indians.” – Chandler
Yes, let’s relive the past with fantastic flashbacks to everyone’s worst Thanksgiving. Phoebe’s took place during a past life. Chandler’s is his infamous ninth birthday. And Monica’s is when Chandler called her fat. Or is it? Just how did Chandler sever his pinky toe?
A special shout out to the turkey trot, Ross’s Miami Vice attire, and Rachel’s original nose.
Season 6: The One Where Ross Got High
“Oh my god. She made half an English Trifle and half a sheperd’s pie.” – Ross
Ross and Monica’s parents drop by for Thanksgiving. Not only do they not know that Monica and Chandler are living together but they mistakenly think Chandler got Ross high in college. And never trust Rachel with the desert. It ends up tasting like feet.
Season 7: The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs
This is, unfortunately, one of the less than stellar Thanksgiving episodes. Ross is obsessed with trying to name all 50 states meanwhile Phoebe sneaks a dog into the apartment and Chandler is afraid of them. And nothing really happens. Also, by the seventh season, Joey got inexplicably dumber. Sure, it made for some good laughs but really?
Season 8: The One With the Rumor
“My two greatest enemies: Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates.” – Will Colbert
An “I Hate Rachel Green” club where Brad Pitt was the president? Genius. The episode plays up Pitt’s sex appeal to the tee. And it features maternity pants for what they are really meant for: eating an entire turkey.
Season 9: The One With Rachel’s Other Sister
“If I die, you don’t get Joey.” – Chandler
Christina Applegate guest stars as Rachel’s self-centered sister, Amy. Monica and Chandler argue over whether or not to use their wedding china for Thanksgiving dinner. There is a great fight scene between Rachel and Amy, and an ongoing debate about who gets custody of Emma.
Season 10: The One With The Late Thanksgiving
“This Thanksgiving kicks last Thanksgiving’s ass.” – Monica
What happens when everyone shows up late to Thanksgiving dinner after forcing Monica to slave away at another meal? A hallway standoff, Joey’s head ending up caught in the doorway, and all the food spilled on the floor. But the more things change (Monica and Chandler find out they are going to be adoptive parents), the more they stay the same. Are we really surprised that Joey owns and cherishes a cabbage patch doll?