12 Thanksgiving Lessons From My Favorite Shows

12 Thanksgiving Lessons From My Favorite Shows

Tess Wilson
Nov 26, 2015

Got a question about your Thanksgiving festivities? Wondering whether the occasion is special enough to justify using the wedding china? Concerned that even with four potato dishes on the menu, someone will be unhappy? Worried that deep-frying the entire Thanksgiving meal is perhaps ill-advised? Not sure what to wear that will be both stylish and... accommodating? All the answers you seek can be found in these classic Thanksgiving episodes...

Gilmore Girls, Season 3 Episode 9, "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving"

Lesson: Hide your breakables before the drunken deep-frying begins. And if that doesn't work, happily enscotch yourself in acceptance.

LORELAI: What happened over there?
SOOKIE: Mm, about a half-hour ago they set the lawn on fire.
SOOKIE: But Phil says it’s okay and everything ‘cause it’ll grow back twice as lush. Though that’s what he said when he broke my salad bowl that I brought back from Belgium. That’ll maybe grow back, too, huh? [laughs] Phil is a riot. Am I crying or laughing?

Mad About You, Season 3 Episode 8, "Giblets For Murray"

Lesson: Don't leave the turkey alone with your dog. Oh, and also don't leave it in the hallway or throw it out the window.

Will & Grace, Season 4 Episode 9, "Moveable Feast"

Lesson: Don't leave the turkey alone with your maid. Just kidding—good for you, Rosario! You get that turkey, and your $350,000/year, and the $10 million bonus you'll get after working for Karen another 20 years. You deserve it all and so much more!

Gilmore Girls, Season 3 Episode 9, "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving"

Lesson: Thanksgiving is not the only day of the year you can volunteer. Take it away, Paris:

I called shelters to volunteer to serve food. It’s Thanksgiving—you’d think they have needs. Nope. Every stupid soup kitchen in town turned me down because they have enough volunteers. Who are all these jackasses who volunteered anyway? They can’t all be students like me. They’re not all putting it on a college application. I get something out of it and these other people don’t get a thing. Talk about selfish... Harvard is going to be expecting Thanksgiving shelter work. They’ll know I called too late and it will totally impugn my organizational skills... By the way, you know I ultimately do all these things for the good of mankind, right?

Friends, Season 1 Episode 9, "The One Where Underdog Gets Away"

Lesson: Only make one kind of potato. Don't get me wrong: I would happily eat an entirely potato-based meal. But if your Thanksgiving guests are all insisting on having their favorite particular kind of potato—mashed, mashed with lumps, whipped with peas and onions, tots—shut that down and make your kind of potato. It will probably be the new favorite.

Will & Grace, Season 2 Episode 7, "Homo For The Holidays"

Lesson: Be yourself. If we didn't already learn that lesson from Moby Dick, this episode reminds us that letting our loved ones truly know us is a brave act.
Bonus Lesson: Always do a dry run. Your ass will thank you.

JACK'S MOM: Yello! Hot dish coming through. And she's carrying a casserole!
GRACE: Who's that?
WILL: Jack's mom.
JACK'S MOM: Whew! 86 minutes. Not bad.
WILL: Judith, you do realize that Thanksgiving is tomorrow.
JACK'S MOM: I'm doing a dry run, Will. I wanted to see how long it would take me to get here while carrying a casserole dish. The other benefit of a dry run is that I power-walk the whole time while clenching my buttocks like so. You can't tell I'm doing anything, but my ass sure can.
GRACE: Like mother, like son.

Friends, Season 7 Episode 8, "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs"

Lesson: Protect the food. We all have a Joey, right?

MONICA: All right, I'm out of oven space; I'm gonna turn on Joey's. Please watch him! Do not let Joey eat any of the food!
CHANDLER: I am only one man!

How I Met Your Mother, Season 3 Episode 9, "Slapsgiving"

Lesson: But especially protect the pies! Sleepeating is my new excuse.

MARSHALL: Oh, by the way, we're all baking pies at Robin's tomorrow.
LILY: Marshall can't be trusted with pies in the apartment overnight.
MARSHALL: For the millionth time, sleepeating is a very serious and delicious medical condition.

Gilmore Girls, Season 1 Episode 7, "Kiss and Tell"

Lesson: The food is important, but don't neglect the decor. Perhaps a few streamers and a paper turkey?

MISS PATTY: Oh, Luke, the food here is lovely but you know what would make it even better?
LUKE: Let me guess—some autumn festival decorations?
MISS PATTY: Well, food without ambience isn't really food, is it?
LUKE: More iced tea, Patty?
MISS PATTY: Oh, no, thank you. It's much too depressing in here for tea.
LUKE: You realize Taylor's a head case, right?
MISS PATTY: Yes, but at least he's a festive one.
LUKE: Just eat.

Friends, Season 9 Episode 9, "The One With Rachel's Other Sister"

Lesson: To paraphrase Ben Franklin, don't eat off tomorrow what you could be eating off today. Use and enjoy your fancy china (or whatever) NOW!

Gilmore Girls, Season 1 Episode 7, "Kiss and Tell"

Lesson: Be thankful for freedom! Especially the freedom to ignore people like Taylor Doose.

LUKE: I mean, a man can't choose whether or not he wants a picture of a fat, stupid bird on his wall? My God, that's the reason the damn Pilgrims came here in the first place.

Friends, Season 8 Episode 9, "The One With The Rumor"

Lesson: Dress appropriately. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I obviously don't watch very many shows—and neither Master of None nor The Great British Bake-Off have Thanksgiving episodes—so please share your favorites!

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