For some of us, Thanksgiving break is a much-needed escape from the stresses and shortcomings of college life. For one extended weekend, we set aside our textbooks, refrain from going into work, and stop eating sub-par meals from dining halls and various cheap vendors, and instead, we indulge in a gluttonous amount of home-cooked food in the warm company of our families.
For others, however, Thanksgiving isn’t pleasant. Some of us aren’t able to flee to our hometowns and find ourselves alone in a seemingly empty city. And even among those of us who are able to reach our families, some, after a mere couple of hours at home, will be in desperate need of a vacation from their vacation.
If you happen to fall within this second category, but you’d still like to celebrate the holiday, we’re here to help. Here’s our guide to the best of Thanksgiving-themed, scripted TV episodes. TV can sometimes be the best (although a bit sad) vacation.
Modern Family: Season 3, Episode 9 — “Punkin Chunkin”
If there’s any family that can make yours seem relatively normal on Thanksgiving, it’s the Dunphy-Pritchett clan. Highlights from this episode include Phil and his former neighborhood pal Kenneth’s extended “man-shake,” Cameron’s epic tale of slingshotting a pumpkin across a football field, and Claire’s listing of Phil’s failed inventions, like “the aspirin gun” and the “adult tricycle.”
How I Met Your Mother: Season 3, Episode 9 — “Slapsgiving”
The gang decides to gather at Lily’s and Marshall’s for their first Thanksgiving as a married couple, and though he’s playing cool, Barney is terrified. Why? Because of a bet he lost which gives Marshall free rein to slap him, and Marshall has promised to deliver before Thanksgiving is over. Hence, “Slapsgiving.” Also, Ted and Robin try to figure out whether or not they can be friends after their breakup — a little drama never hurts.
Will & Grace: Season 4, Episode 9-10 — “Moveable Feast”
“So glad we’re doing our own Thanksgiving this year,” Grace says to Will as the episode commences, though it couldn’t turn out to be further from the truth. Their plans are turned on their heads when Will, Grace, Jack and Karen realize they all have last-minute engagements, and so, they decide to take a group road-trip to visit their families for one hour each. Highlight of the two-part episode? When Karen seduces Will’s parents’ plumber, played by Megan Mullally’s real-life husband Nick Offerman (now in Parks & Rec).
Grey’s Anatomy: Season 2, Episode 9 — “Thanks for the Memories”
While Izzie and Dr. Burke are at Meredith’s house cooking Thanksgiving dinner — running the kitchen like an O.R., of course — the rest of the staff at Seattle Grace Hospital refuse to escape work. But they love Thanksgiving all the same. Why? “People get stupid, people get violent, people get hurt,” Dr. Bailey says. “And that’s a good thing because?” Meredith asks. “Surgeries!”
The O.C.: Season 1, Episode 11 — “The Homecoming”
Even slum-bred Ryan wants to spend time with his family on Thanksgiving, so he heads back to Chino to visit his brother Trey in prison, and Marissa tags along because she can’t stand to spend the holiday with her mom’s new boyfriend, Kirsten’s dad Caleb. Back in the O.C., newfound player Seth gets himself into a pickle when both Anna and Summer come over with intentions of fooling around.
Friends: Season 6, Episode 9 — “The One Where Ross Got High”
Ross and Monica’s parents are in town for Thanksgiving, which means trouble for Monica and Chandler, since Mrs. and Mr. Gellar don’t like Chandler and don’t know that the two are dating, let alone living together. When it’s revealed that the Gellars don’t like Chandler because because Ross was caught smoking pot in college and blamed it on him, Ross is forced to confess. Also, Rachel makes a cooking faux pas when she manages to include beef and peas in her Thanksgiving dessert.
Have a favorite Thanksgiving-themed TV episode that wasn’t included on this list? Don’t hesitate to share with us in the comments! Enjoy your holiday!