Friends Thanksgiving Episodes: Touchdowns or Turkeys?

by Aly Semigran November 20, 2013 7:00 am
<i>Friends</i> Thanksgiving Episodes: Touchdowns or Turkeys?

When you think of Thanksgiving, what comes to mind? Is it turkey on the table with all the trimmings or Monica's turkey stuck on Joey's head? Is it watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade or when the Underdog float gets away? Is it uncomfortable dinners with your family or retroactively uncomfortable moments like when Brad Pitt totally hates Jennifer Aniston (er, we mean her character Rachel)? If you answered the latter to any of these, well take comfort in knowing you're not alone. For Friends fans, their Thanksgiving episodes are an essential part of the holiday. So we're running through all ten seasons worth of Thanksgiving episodes and deciding which ones were comedy touchdowns and which ones were total turkeys.

Season 1: "The One Where the Underdog Gets Away"
Premise: For various reasons (the best of which is Joey's family shunning him for appearing in VD posters that are plastered all over New York City), everybody winds up at Monica's place for Thanksgiving dinner. When the Underdog float escapes from the Macy's parade, the gang heads out to go see the hubbub. The only problem is that the door, for maybe the first and only time on Friends, is locked. With everyone's specialized meals (including Chandler's non-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving food) cooking inside, it's a race to get back in. By the time they narrow down a spare key at Joey and Chandler's, the food is ruined. Of course, that's nothing that staring at Ugly Naked Girl and Ugly Naked Guy from across the street can't salvage.
Best Line: "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm very thankful that all of your Thanksgivings sucked." – Chandler, of course.
Touchdown or Turkey? Touchdown. With the exception of Ross spending the majority of the episode talking to Carol's uterus, every storyline worked here. Plus, it established a lot of Thanksgiving traditions for the show, including Monica hosting and Chandler's utter contempt for the the holiday.

Season 2: "The One With the List"
Premise: When Ross is torn between two women -- Rachel and Julie – Chandler suggests he come up with a pro and con list for each of them and decide that way. It all goes awry when Rachel (or, Rachem, if you don't watch out for typos) finds the list and spends the rest of the episode trying to make it up to her. Monica, meanwhile, gets a crappy cooking job that involves the horror that would come to be known as "mocklate."
Best Line: "She's not Rachem." – Ross's typo-plagued con list for Julie. (Ugh, Julie). Touchdown or Turkey? Turkey. Apparently the writers didn't realize Thanksgiving would be a thing on Friends because this isn't even a Thanksgiving episode, it's just an episode that aired closest to Thanksgiving.

Season 3: "The One With the Football"
Premise: The gang plays a not-so-friendly game of touch football in a park to win the "coveted" Geller Cup. It's Monica, Joey and Phoebe against Ross, Chandler and Rachel, though Joey and Chandler are more concerned about impressing and winning over a random Dutch girl. Poor Rachel gets ignored and/or traded the entire game…that is until she scores the winning touchdown. Only problem? She may not have been over the line. While Monica and Ross duke it out for the pride of the Geller cup, everyone else just goes home.
Best Line: "That's not true. I wanted to wear my bathrobe and eat peanut clusters all day. I wanted to start drinking in the morning. Don't say that I don't have goals!" – Chandler, talking about his post-Janice slump.
Touchdown or Turkey? Touchdown! Come on, of course the football episode would be a touchdown.

Season 4: "The One With Chandler in a Box"
Premise: Kathy was pretty much trouble from the start, but she really wreaked havoc on Joey and Chandler's friendship when it was revealed that she and Chandler kissed. As punishment for his actions, Joey makes Chandler quietly spend Thanksgiving in a box to think about what he's done. In case that wasn't enough relationship dysfunction, Monica winds up inviting her ex-boyfriend's Richard's son Timothy over for Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, and she's wearing an eye patch during all of this, too.
Best Line: "Fine! Judge all you want but, married a lesbian… left a man at the altar… fell in love with a gay ice dancer… threw a girl's wooden leg in a fire… live in a box!" – Monica, calling out all her friends' faults after they judge her admittedly very creepy short-lived romance with Richard's son.
Touchdown or Turkey? Touchdown. It's rare to watch Joey have the upper hand with Chandler.

Season 5: "The One With all the Thanksgivings"
Premise: The only thing Friends did better than Thanksgiving episodes were flashback episodes, and this combined the best of both worlds. The gang discusses who had the worst Thanksgiving ever. For Phoebe it was a bloody injury in a past life, while Chandler once again complained about the pool boy and his father. ("More turkey, Mr. Chandler?"). While Joey's was the most amusing (he got Monica's turkey stuck on his head in an attempt to scare Chandler), Monica's definitely took the cake. After being humiliated by college-aged Chandler in the '80s, a newly thin Monica tries to woo Chandler, but instead accidentally drops a knife on his toe and severs a piece of it. Eventually she makes it right in the present day by putting a turkey on her head and Chandler says "I love you" to her for the first time in their relationship.
Best Line: "Hey, I wasn't the only one who looked like an idiot, alright? Remember when Ross tried to say, 'Butternut squash?' and it came out, "'Squtternut bosh?'" – Joey, trying to embarrass Ross after his turkey-on-the-head story.
Touchdown or Turkey? Touchdown. The reason why the "Fat Monica" gag works so well is because of how Courteney Cox sells it. You don't take pity on Monica, you root for her. Plus, it's just hilarious to see a pre-nose job Rachel and the tragically uncool Chandler and Ross go through their Flock of Seagulls and Miami Vice phases.

Season 6: "The One Where Ross Got High"
Premise: Monica has the entire gang, plus her parents, over for Thanksgiving dinner, but everything goes awry. Joey is in a rush to leave to have dinner with Janine's hot dancer friends; Monica is desperate to keep the fact that she's living with Chandler a secret from her parents; Ross informs Chandler that in college he got caught smoking pot and blamed it on him; Phoebe can't stop fantasizing about men like Jacques Cousteau; and Rachel, determined that she'll prove Monica wrong and make a good desert, accidentally puts beef in a trifle. All of these things eventually come to a head with expectedly hilarious results, particularly when Ross and Monica rat out each other's secrets and then at desert when everyone eats Rachel's trifle and tries to hide their disgust. (Well, except for Joey).
Best Line: "What's not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, gooooood!" – Joey, legitimately enjoying Rachel's trifle.
Touchdown or Turkey? Touchdown! This is not only the best Friends Thanksgiving episode by a mile, but it's one of the best episodes of the entire series. You can watch this one a hundred times and still laugh hysterically. It's the ensemble at its finest and the fast-paced episode never misses a beat.

Season 7: "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs"
Premise: Everyone's distracted in this episode: whether it's Rachel distracted by her crush/assistant Tag's newfound singlehood, or Phoebe trying to hide a cute little dog named Clunkers from Chandler (apparently, he doesn't like dogs), or Ross desperately trying to name all 50 states.
Best Line: "It's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn’t matter. It's moo." – Joey, explaining what a "moo point" is to Rachel.
Touchdown or Turkey? Touchdown. It's not their best Thanksgiving episode but, whatever, I miss Tag.

Season 8: "The One With the Rumor"
Premise: Everyone watched this episode when it originally aired because Aniston's then-husband Brad Pitt was guest starring and this was at the height of their relationship. The added bonus was that it was a very, very funny episode. Pitt played Will, an old classmate of Ross, Monica, and Rachel's from high school who -- just like Monica -- went from an outcast to a thin, attractive person. Turns out, when they were young, Rachel was mean to Will and he and Ross formed an "I Hate Rachel Club." Worst of all, they started a rumor that Rachel was a hermaphrodite. It's still funny to watch Aniston and Pitt pick at each other, despite their eventual split.
Best Line: "Oh hey. I’d shake your hand but I’m really into the game. Plus, I think it’d be better for my ego if we didn’t stand right next to each other." – Chandler, after being introduced to Will.
Touchdown or Turkey? Touchdown. Sure, the episode is all about Brad Pitt and Brad Pitt's staggering good looks, but there's also the gem that is Joey wearing Phoebe's old maternity pants so he can eat an entire turkey by himself.

Season 9: "The One With Rachel's Other Sister"
Premise: Rachel's terrible sister Amy (Christina Applegate) shows up to Thanksgiving, and as usual, brings her self-involved attitude with her. While Rachel and Amy spend most of the episode arguing (Amy is upset that Rachel wouldn't have her raise Emma if she died, but Chandler and Monica instead), Monica is fretting over her good China and Joey is freaking out that he forgot to show up to the Days of our Lives float at the Thanksgiving parade.
Best Line: "Why does she keep making that noise?" Amy, when Phoebe says her own name.
Touchdown or Turkey? Turkey. Christina Applegate definitely earned her Emmy as the hilariously awful Amy, but this episode is too grating to want to go back for seconds.

Season 10: "The One With the Late Thanksgiving"
Premise: Come on, like Monica was really going to cancel the gang's last Thanksgiving together? After being talked into hosting by her friends, they all show up late for various reasons (Ross and Joey have hockey tickets, while Rachel and Phoebe enter Emma in a baby beauty pageant, blech) and Monica and Chandler are majorly peeved. Of course, it doesn't last long when they get the phone call they'd been waiting for: the adoption agency has a baby for them.
Best Line: "Don't you put words in people's mouths, you put turkey in people's mouths!" – Joey, after Monica and Chandler try to cancel Thanksgiving at their place.
Touchdown or Turkey? Turkdown. This one is split down the middle as it includes some really great things (floating heads stuck in the door, games of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire and Monica and Chandler's adoption news), and one really bad one (that truly awful baby beauty pageant storyline).

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