Underdog, Beef Trifle and Box Livin’: A Definitive List of Friends’ Best Thanksgiving Episodes

Good television fans know that certain series have the market on lock when it comes to holiday-themed episodes. For example, The Office had superb Christmas episodes every year. Community goes above and beyond with its Halloween shows. And of course, you could always count on Friends for a solid Thanksgiving episode.

friends t gives

Over the past few years, I’ve started my own tradition (like the Geller Cup, if you will) of watching every Thanksgiving episode from all 10 seasons, just to get me in the mood for the holiday.

So in honor of today, here’s a definitive list (read: based solely on my own personal opinion, my mind will probably change tomorrow) of the episodes from worst to best.

Oh and Happy Thanksgiving!

Number Ten

Season 2: The One with the List

Ross must choose between Rachel and Julie and enlists Joey and Chandler’s help in making a list of the pros and cons of each. He chooses Rachel, but she finds the list and gets angry with Ross. Meanwhile, Monica gets a job making food with a synthetic chocolate substitute called Mockolate.

This was the only episode in the show’s 10 year run that was not an official “Thanksgiving episode”. It served as such when it aired in 1995, but there was not real T-Giving banter until the following season. That being said, I still think this is a great episode, not only because everyone’s still on a high from Ross and Rachel’s first kiss, but because Chandler’s laptop is like a life-changing instrument where you can both type semi-offensive documents about your friends but also play Doom. Could it BE anymore 90s?

Number Nine

Season 7: The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs

Phoebe sneaks a puppy into the apartment; Chandler reveals why he hates dogs. Ross becomes obsessed with naming all 50 states in order to earn his Thanksgiving dinner. Phoebe names celery.

Because of Ross, millions of people were left dumbfounded and extremely annoyed that they couldn’t list all 50 states. Unless you’re one of those people who learned the States song when you were younger. In which case you can’t participate in the game or Thanksgiving.

Number Eight

Season 10: The One with the Late Thanksgiving

Monica and Chandler grudgingly agree to host Thanksgiving. They get angry when their friends show up late, when Ross and Joey having gone to a game and Rachel and Phoebe having taken Emma to a baby beauty pageant, because why not. But their mood changes when they get good news from the adoption agency.

The best scenes in this mediocre episode are with the four latecomers who are brainstorming to come up with a way to get on the Bings’ good graces and come to dinner. Not to mention the creepiest door scene in all of Friends history.

Number Seven

Season 9: The One with Rachel’s Other Sister

Amy, Rachel’s spoiled sister played by Christina Applegate, shows up for Thanksgiving. The gang argues over who gets custody of Emma if Ross and Rachel die. 

Props to the person who cast both Christina Applegate and Reese Witherspoon as Rachel’s sisters. Christina was even nominated twice for her role and won in 2003 for this very episode! And it was totally well deserved because her spaciness and inability to understand that Phoebe’s name is, in fact, Phoebe and not Emma, makes her the sole reason why this episode needs more credit than it deserves.

Number Six

Season 1: The One Where Underdog Gets Away

The gang gets locked out of the apartment in order to see the Underdog balloon fly away from the Macy’s Day Parade. Monica’s first Thanksgiving dinner gets burned, Rachel misses a ski trip with her family, and Joey becomes a poster boy for VD.

The first season is a magical season for many reasons, but most importantly because if you’re watching it in current day, you can tell there’s still an innocence among the cast members and within the actual show – these people have no idea how big the show’s going to be or how much of an impact it will have on television history in general. The first ever Thanksgiving episode is no different. It set a precedent for future T-giving episodes, and the rest of the series in general.

Number Five

Season 3: The One with the Football

The gang plays a game of touch football on Thanksgiving as Ross and Monica argue over winning in a case of sibling rivalry over the coveted Geller Cup. Meanwhile, Joey and Chandler argue over who gets to date a model from Holland and Rachel is still clueless on the game. 

Family, Friends, Food and Football. Pretty much Thanksgiving summed up in alliteration. The Friends writers knew they had to incorporate one of America’s most beloved past times, and this was the perfect way to do it.

Number Four

Season 4: The One with Chandler in a Box

After Joey finds out that Chandler kissed his girlfriend Kathy, he forces Chan to spend Thanksgiving in a huge wooden box so he can think about what he did. What’s even weirder than Chandler in a box? Monica inviting her ex-boyfriend’s son over for Thanksgiving and she hits on him.

The reason for this episode being one of the greatest is threefold: 1) Monica with an eye patch. 2) Chandler/Matthew Perry being in a box the entire episode. 3) One of the greatest and unforgettable lines ever in Friends, as seen in the clip above. Judge all you want.

Number Three

Season 5: The One with All the Thanksgivings

The gang’s past Thanksgivings are revealed flashback style. We get to see when Chandler and Monica first meet, how he changed her life, Joey’s head up a turkey’s butt, and Pheebs in the 1600s. 

I appreciate that Friends has done only a few clip shows in its 10 year run, since it can feel like the writers haven’t come up with any new ideas and are just being lazy. But one thing that Friends did, that I think How I Met Your Mother really perfected, is having flashback scenes that are brand new to both the cast and the viewers. This episode takes the cake, as we get to see the Friends in different eras, different stages of their life and how they all came together as one unit. Plus who doesn’t love a good turkey head?

Number Two

Season 8: The One with the Rumor

Monica invites a high school friend, Will, played by Brad Pitt, to her Thanksgiving dinner. He and Ross were pals back in the day and had an I Hate Rachel Green club, which she finds out in the episode. Meanwhile, Joey tries to eat an entire turkey and Chandler and Phoebe attempt to avoid helping Monica with the dinner.

Oh boy. It’s like pouring salt in the wound thinking about this, but remember when Brad and Jennifer were still married and happy in love? But then they played enemies in this episode? Brad hardly makes any TV appearances, but obviously he made an exception with this, and I think he played the perfect roll. This could also be because my obsession with him started around this time, but whatever. Despite Will and Ross’ “hatred” for Rachel, it turns out to be a sweet moment at the end between the show’s iconic couple, leaving you with the warm and fuzzies. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Number One

Season 6: The One Where Ross Got High

Ross and Monica’s parents come to dinner, and Ross is forced to tell Chandler why Jack and Judy don’t like him, since they still don’t know Monica and Chandler are living together. Things get more stressful for Ross as he and Joey are trying to speed up Thanksgiving to hang out with Janine, played by Elle MacPherson, and her dancer friends. Rachel *tries* to make dessert for the first time. 

The Friends’ Thanksgiving episodes are usually bottle episodes, which means the action primarily takes place in one setting, with the same characters. In this case, it’s the six Friends in Monica’s apartment, seemingly like an act of a play. In saying that, the 22 minute episode goes by so quickly because the writing, acting, and comedic timing by all is just that good. So many things are happening with all of the characters, and it converges together in one of the most hilarious scenes on TV. From Phoebe’s infatuation with a French aqualegend to Rachel’s feet-tasting trifle, this episode is the perfect mix of disaster, family time and sentimentality that Thanksgiving is all about.

Whatareyoudoinghere: Unexpected Guest Stars of The West Wing

In its seven season history, The West Wing created some of the created episodes and moments in television – period. Aaron Sorkin’s most successful show to date took home 26 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series four consecutive times. Basically, it was the definition of a hit series.

And with its critical acclaim and popularity, came outstanding actors, both those were were already accomplished (Martin Sheen, Alan Alda, Jimmy Smits), there was also a multitude of actors who were talented but on their way to finding fame.

Here are just some of the guest stars throughout The West Wing that were totally a part of Bartlet for America before hitting it big.

Nick Offerman

Season 1, Episode 4
Leave it up to the guy who plays a government worker who hates the government to play someone asking the White House for a $900 million ‘wolves-only roadway’ on The West Wing. Ron Swanson, everyone.

Liza Weil

Season 1, Episode 13
For some reason, Liza Weil is typecast as the unlikable, bitchy woman in everything I’ve seen her in (Paris Gellar?!). In TWW, she plays a young staffer who leaks Chief of Staff Leo McGarry’s troubled addict past. She gets fired, then gets rehired because Leo is da bomb.

Jane Lynch

Season 2, Episode 1
Pre-Glee, Jane Lynch spent her time in the White House press room, nagging Allison Janney for answers.

Sam Jaeger

Season 2, Episode 4
Before becoming a Braverman on Parenthood, Sam played a reporter in the White House. Look at how tiny he is!!

Eric Stonestreet

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 9.36.41 PM

Season 2, Episode 19
Cam from Modern Family didn’t have many lines, but I’m sure he was an integral part to Oliver Platt’s White House Counsel.

Connie Britton

Season 3, Episode 2
Tami Taylor, y’all! She appeared in a few episodes as ‘Connie’, a Bartlet-Hoynes re-election campaign staffer. She was flawless before, she’s flawless now.

Dennis Haskins

Season 3, Episode 9
It’s really unfortunate that the guy I looked at as the ultimate high school principal turned into a creepo who owns a karaoke bar in Burbank. What happened to you, Mr. Belding? Luring Chief of Staff alcoholics liquor, that’s what.

Evan Rachel Wood

Season 3, Episode 21
This lucky bitch got to play CJ Cregg’s niece. And go shopping for designer clothes for prom. More jealous about the CJ Cregg thing, tho.

David Burtka

Season 3, Episode 21
Alright, how cute and adorable is Neil Patrick Harris’ boo?! Even though he played a young intern who ends up selling moose meat Josh gave Donna who gave it to David Burtka who illegally put it on eBay.

Amy Adams

Season 4, Episode 1
In the season opener, Bartlet & co. are back on the campaign trail, and we meet them in the middle of Indiana. Except the bus leaves without Toby and Josh, and they have to rely on farm girl Amy Adams to get them to their next stop in time. Really, it’s like she doesn’t age.

John Gallagher Jr.

Season 4, Episode 1
In the very same episode, high school student and Bartlet for America volunteer named Tyler helps out the gang by driving them around in his jeep. BTW, does he look familiar, Newsroom fans? Yep, that’s a young Jim Harper.
In fact, when John auditioned for Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin didn’t remember him from TWW, and just saw on his resume he had been in an episode. John of course refreshed his memory.

Danica McKellar

Season 4, Episode 6
Winnie Cooper guys, Winnie Cooper, back on TV! She played Will Bailey’s (Josh Malina) stepsister and assistant, Elsie Snuffin – an amazing name!

Christian Slater

Season 4, Episode 7
Basically if you were a person who got in the way of Donna and Josh’s sexual tension, I was not a fan. Enter Christian Slater. She met Lt. Commander Jack Reese outside a polling place, as she was trying to trade votes with a Republic voter after accidentally voting for the opponent instead of incumbent Democratic Pres Bartlet. They went out for approx 2 episodes before he was sent of to Italy. Good riddance.

Matthew Perry

Season 4, Episode 19
Technically Chandler still worked in the White House up until the new President moved in, but we only got to see him in a few episodes as the Associate White House Counsel. But their continuity is a little off since he was seen in season 4 as “Matthew Perry”, a celeb Donna tries to chat up during a Hollywood party. Oops.

Taye Diggs

Season 4, Episode 22
Let me start by saying this pic is what dreams are made of. My boyfriend Taye played a secret service agent who was in charge of keeping Pres Bartlet’s daughter Zoe (Elisabeth Moss) safe when she went out the night of her graduation. Except… things didn’t go so well…

Jesse Bradford

Season 5, Episode 2
Awesome, oh wow. Like totally freak me out I mean right *clap clap* the Toros sure are number one!!!
Jesse Bradford did not befriend a high school cheerleader in The West Wing. He basically followed Josh and Donna around just like in the gif.

Jason Isaacs

Season 5, Episode 21
Remember that thing I said about anyone getting in between Josh and Donna? Yeah, that goes for Lucius Malfoy. ESPECIALLY Lucius Malfoy. Jason Isaacs played a photojournalist Donna met during her trip to Gaza, and the two had a little fling. *Spoiler alert* Donna is one of the group of the White House who is injured in a car bombing, and Malfoy follows her to the German hospital she’s being treated in. Except Josh flies to her side too – to find the scene above…

Navid Negahban

Season 5, Episode 22 I would think it would suck to always be a Middle Eastern/Muslim/Terrorist if you’re of that ethnicity. But hey, as long as you keep gettin that dolla dolla billz, I guess it would be fine. Imagine my surprise when I found out Abu Nazir from Homeland showed up in the season finale as a foreign operative. I watch way too much TV to fully accept that Nazir travelled back in time to rendezvous with Josh Lyman.

Dean Norris

Season 7, Episode 6
Well, well, well, good old Hank Schrader, putting away his rocks and minerals in order to hang with the big guns. Dean came in for a couple of episodes in the last season, as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and while he may have had to face some tough politicians, I bet it was nothing compared to Heisenberg cornering you in your own garage.

Jon Bon Jovi

Season 7, Episode 15
What’s more American than getting Jon Bon Jovi to play at a campaign rally? Springsteen, probably, but he wasn’t available for this episode. JBJ even had speaking lines in this episode, where he helped raise money for Congressman Matt Santos’ (Jimmy Smits) campaign. He’s just livin on a bus and a prayer, you guys.

 

 

Roger Sterling, Silver Fox: My Top Old Man Crushes

Mad Men is back on the air, and with it, is one of my favorite grey-haired characters, Roger Sterling. I’d like to say this is outside the norm for me, this attraction to a mature gent, but truth be told it isn’t. Even though I’m young-ish, most of the time I’m into a celebrity, it begins with the phrase “I have this weird crush on…”.

If, like me, you think that Roger Sterling is pure platinum, then maybe you will understand the following weird crushes:

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was my first weird crush, probably. This dates back, embarrassingly enough, to his sex scandal days. However, I probably didn’t fully understand that at the time, because I was a pint-sized 11-year-old at Catholic school. In hindsight, I don’t know if my crush began with Slick Willy himself or with Clinton as played by Darrell Hammond, because I was really into SNL at the time. Actually, the latter is probably more embarrassing, so let’s just say not that. Really, I like Bill in spite of the Lewinsky thing, not because of it. He’s so smart and charismatic! Babies love him, as do some old people. Bill’s a charmer. Besides, if anything or anyone is Hillary Clinton-endorsed, they can’t be half bad.

Friedrich Bhaer

Friedrich Bhaer is a fictional character. He’s not what you’d call real, exactly.  He is a  much-older German professor who takes up with Jo March at the end of Little Women, but he’s exactly the right match for her. She and Laurie wouldn’t have worked out, long-term. Anyway, in Little Men, they open up a boarding school for boys and it’s pretty much the cutest. In the 1994 film adaptation, Bhaer was played by a dapper, gray-tinted Gabriel Byrne, and it really worked. Or, it really worked if you were the world’s creepiest third-grader, anyway.

Christoph Waltz

As I sort of suddenly discovered during the Oscar liveblog, I have a weird crush on Christoph Waltz. I don’t know. I guess my type is middle aged, kindly, intelligent German nationals. But he is kind of appealing, right? No? All the more aging Bavarian men for me, then.

This One Professor I Had In Law School

This guy taught… I don’t know, civil procedure? Criminal procedure? He taught a class in law school that I definitely attended. We called him the Silver Fox and he was, he really was. I wish I still worked in his legal market so I could run my hands through his glimmering locks… or, I mean, attend one of his CLEs.

The Late Paul Newman, Circa 1980s

I’m not even sorry about it.

The Gracefully Aging Matt LeBlanc And Matthew Perry

In normal cases, I’d list these two without reservations. The only problem is that their greying hair also carries with it the demise of my youth. I don’t like that reminder. But still…

Roger Sterling

Obviously.

Movies I Actually Paid To See In the Theater: Part 1 – Shame

In part 1 of a 2 part mini-series, I reflect on some films that some consider to be the worst of the worst, but I consider to be… well still maybe the worst, but I gave them the benefit of doubt to be potentially really good.

Here is a list of the movies I am embarrassed to have paid money for, but in my defense, most of these were when I was a teenager, so there’s that.

From Justin to Kelly (2003)

IMDb Plot Description: “A lonely, sexually repressed man. A depressed woman. A summer camp. On this fateful night, they will meet… and their hearts will become one.”

This outing was only prompted by the fact that American Idol was the biggest thing in pop culture that year, and I totally fell into their ploy. I even went to a taping of Idol that year, and had a sign showing my allegiance to Justin that may or may not have made it on air (That’s also where I met Mario Lopez, but that’s a story for another day). So naturally, I felt like I had to see the movie too. Even as a teen, I knew it was bad. But now we can all watch it and make it a drinking game, so really, win-win.

Marci X (2003)

IMDb Plot Description: “A Jewish-American Princess is forced to take control of a hard-core hip-hop record label and tries to rein the one of the label’s most controversial rappers.”

Again, I only wanted to see this movie since Lisa Kudrow was in it and I was at the height of my Friends obsession. Looking back, this movie had a few comedic moments, but overall it was just second-hand embarrassment for Pheebs, not to mention, the movie is actually a little racist?

Serving Sara (2002)

IMDb Plot Description: “A process server tries to serve an elusive female target.”

Apparently I would literally see anything that any of the Friends cast was in, because I saw Matthew Perry in this movie too and it wasn’t good. Newsflash, pretty much all of the movies the Friends made between 1994-2004 were not good. Save for maybe The Whole Nine Yards and all the Jennifer Aniston movies.

Corky Romano (2001)

IMDb Plot Description: “The loser son of a Mafia honcho must go undercover for the FBI.”

I guess another thing to note was that my default for going out with my friends in high school, like a lot of teens, is to go to the movies. But to go to the movies not for its quality, but to go because you recognize the star in it and there’s nothing else to do. Enter Corky Romano. I was also really into Saturday Night Live, and although Chris Kattan was not my favorite by far (Jimmy Fallon, obvs), he was on SNL so it had to be funny, right? Absolutely not.

Sydney White (2007)

IMDb Plot Description: “A modern retelling of Snow White set against students in their freshman year of college in the greek system.”

Well, I was thisclose to putting this movie on my other list (of movies I have no shame in seeing), but looking at the big picture, I paid like $3 to see Sydney White at a second run theater during a matinee because I didn’t have that much faith in it. To my surprise it was actually quite entertaining, and it’s a nice reminder of how Amanda Bynes used to be before this happened.