It’s no secret that holiday episodes are a big deal for sitcoms, but there are a few of us in the Culture Poppe family that hold the 10 seasons of Friends‘ Thanksgiving episodes in the highest esteem. I started an email thread last week, where I proposed we talk about our favorite episodes. This is sort of how it went:

Subject: Friends’ Thanksgiving

On Nov, 21, 2013, Haley Bragg wrote:

Hey guys!

I’ve identified you as the Friends fanatics among our group. (I mean, I’m totally including myself in this category, by the way.)
Since next week is Thanksgiving (WHAT?), we wanted to do a couple of posts that a) speak to the holiday. I thought that it wouldn’t really be Thanksgiving if we didn’t do something about the Friend’s Thanksgiving episodes. If you’re interested in collaborating on this, let me know and feel free to shoot out some ideas to the whole group so that we can brainstorm together.


On Nov, 21, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:


On Nov, 22, 2013, JT Landry wrote:


On Nov, 22, 2013, Laura McClellan wrote:

“And Rachel, no you WEREN’T supposed to put beef in the trifle. It did NOT taste good.”

On Nov, 22, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:

“What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Goooooooood!”

On Nov, 22, 2013, JT Landry wrote:

That’s a lot of informatoin to get in 30 seconds.

We’re a productive bunch, for sure. So, after brainstorming a bit more we came up with some of our favorite episodes to share with you, as well as another email thread in which JT and Molly take the conversation from above a bit further.

Haley Bragg: The One with the Rumor

I love so many of these episodes, it’s hard to pick just one. But I also love a good secret outburst (à la The One where Ross Got High) AND attractive men, so there you go.

1. Brad Pitt. It’s sad watching this now, knowing what eventually happened to Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt. You can’t help but think their contentious relationship in this episode was foreshadowing.
2. The aforementioned secret outburst. We find out that Ross and Will (Pitt) were members of an “I Hate Rachel Green” club in high school that spread rumors about Rachel’s um, anatomy. In return, Rachel confesses that she was the one who spilled the beans on Ross’ romantic interlude with the elderly librarian.
3. “Here come the meat sweats!”

Laura McClellan: The One With All The Thanksgivings
1. Fat Monica. Any episode with Fat Monica immediately shoots up in the ranks for me. I love the way her personality changes and she comes off as immature, but still totally Monica. Friends is great about keeping running jokes going, and the fact that Monica used to be fat is a gem of an arc. Fat Monica also means big-nosed Rachel and the 80’s, which are both super enjoyable as well.
2. A severed toe-tip. Y’all. This episode features Chandler losing the tip of his toe due to Monica dropping a knife on it while trying to act sexy in her new-and-improved skinny bod. They can’t even put it back on, because she brings a carrot to the hospital instead. It is a perfect patch of crazy to add to the colorful quilt that is the story of Chandler and Monica.
3. Chandler accidentally lets “I love you” slip to Monica for the first time, and she’s wearing a turkey on her head. Never mind the improbability of anyone ever being able to fit their head up a real turkey, let alone being able to breathe in there. This moment is a turning point for Chandler and Monica and sets the stage for the rest of their relationship, making this episode a staple in the Friends canon. Plus did I mention Fat Monica?

Brooke Rousch: The One With the Football 

Seriously trying to pick my favorite Thanksgiving episode from Friends is like trying to pick my favorite child (or what I’d imagine that to be like, since I don’t have kids).  There are just so many good ones…like The One With Chandler in a Box or The One With the Rumor (a.k.a. the Brad Pitt episode).  But I think I have to go with The One With the Football, and here’s why:

1.  The sibling rivalry between Ross and Monica for the Geller Cup is hilarious. I think anyone who has a sibling/siblings can relate.
2.  Rachel scores the winning touchdown (disputed, but still).  She’s the last pick / underdog of the game. I just like to see those overlooked individuals prove naysayers wrong.
3.  Chandler’s quote “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!” Ohhh Chandler. He’s my favorite….and we have similar goals.


Subject: Friendsgiving Discussion

On Tue, Nov 26, JT Landry wrote:

Brrrr, Molly. I think this is the coldest Thanksgiving week we’ve experienced in quite a while. Nasty winter weather is why TV marathons exist, of course. And I can’t think of a more appropriate marathon for this week than watching all 10 Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. Sadly, neither one of us has five idle hours to our names until Thursday, so we’d better pick just a couple. What do you say we start with “The One Where Ross Got High” from Season Six.

If you ask me, this is not only the greatest and most Thanksgiving-y of all the Thanksgiving episodes, it’s also one of the greatest episodes of Friends period. This is one of those perfect episodes where everything just clicks and sings. Friends always soared highest when its six main characters were put in a room together, as they are here, where everyone is gathered in Monica (and Chandler’s – he had moved in by this point right?) apartment for Turkey Day. And the stakes are high, aren’t they?

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:

JT, I couldn’t agree with you more. Especially about Friends being at it’s best when they were all together, and it wasn’t great just during the holiday episodes either. Proof of this is my number one most favorite episode “The One with the Embryos” which takes place in real time when everyone is getting ready to go to a banquet honoring Ross and his nerdiness. “Could I BE wearing anymore clothes?!”

But, I digress.

The stakes were high in this episode for many reasons. Monica and Chandler were living together at this point, but Mr. and Mrs. Geller didn’t get the memo and Monica wasn’t ready to tell them just yet. That’s one revelation blurted out during the episodes finest moment, which we’ll get to soon enough.

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 JT Landry wrote:

Ah, the eruption of revelations – one of the show’s finest comedic moments. We learned a LOT here, Molly – essential information such as the Gellar siblings’ framing of Hurricane Gloria for the destruction of the family porch swing, Rachel’s noble but wrong inclusion of beef (sauteed with peas and onions) in a traditional English trifle and Phoebe’s burning flame for oceanic superstar Jacques Cousteau. It’s no wonder, Judy Gellar was overwhelmed.

It was so much, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook the original heart of this scenario – the reveal that Ross, not Chandler, was the owner of the pot the Gellar parents found way back when, thus bringing Chandler – probably for the first time – into the good graces of Jack and Judy Gellar (“Chandler….stuck by him through the drug problems…what would we do without you?”).

But let’s talk about my favorite plot of the episode – Rachel’s ill-fated attempt at making Thanksgiving dessert. While technically a B plot for the episode, it’s so funny, and Jennifer Aniston is so winning here, that it threatens to steal the episode away from the Monica-Chandler-Gellars storyline. I think you can attribute this to Aniston. Sure, the idea of bungling the trifle is, in itself, funny, but Aniston was really doing wonders with Rachel at this point in the series. It’s still amazing to go back and watch this show in succession and see the progression of this particular character – from a privileged, self-absorbed Long Island daddy’s girl into a really well-rounded and complex character who, if you ask me, was the underrated comic MVP. Sure, Phoebe and Monica’s comedy may have been louder, but Rachel’s comedy had a subtler touch that actually works better for me – and it’s all over this trifle subplot.

On Nov 26, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:

That is a lot of information to take in in 30 seconds, JT. And I completely agree that the Rachel/trifle storyline stole the episode and is definitely what people think of upon first mention of this episode. It’s perfect, and so hilariously written.

Let’s talk about how Phoebe doesn’t much to do in this episode. I think it’s the one flaw in all 22ish minutes, but her revelation of “I LOVE JACQUES COUSTEAU” and how Lisa Kudrow delivers it at the end of the episode is one of the best ones, so it kind of makes up for it. But what does Phoebe do? She has a crush on Mr. Geller, takes a nap and dreams about Jacques Cousteau. Am I missing anything? Do you feel that it’s kind of a waste or is there enough going on in the other storylines to push Phoebe back a bit? I guess someone always has to be sacrificed a bit in ensemble scenes.

So, you’ve made your love of Rachel/Jennifer Aniston known, but I need to give an honorable mention to Joey/Matt LeBlanc. His (and Ross’) storyline of wanting to eat Thanksgiving dinner as fast as possible to get to the party full of hot models was classic Joey. And to combine their need to eat fast along with having to eat Rachel’s beef trifle is one of the high points in the episode. Can we just get to quoting it already?

“Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Beef? GOOOOOOOOOD.”

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 JT Landry wrote:

“It tastes like feet!”

You’re right about Phoebe getting a bit sacrificed on a narrative level; but it doesn’t bother me in this particular episode. There’s SO much going on in the episode as a whole that her infatuation with Jack AND Jacques serves as a nice seasoning to the narrative. And let’s face it: Lisa Kudrow is an absolute genius and can make any moment, however small, brilliant.


On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 Molly Gentry wrote:

“I wasn’t supPOSED to put beef in the trifle!”

And, thank to youtube, here it is in all it’s glory:

But let’s not forget probably the second best Thanksgiving episode of Friends, “The One with all the Thanksgivings” when we learn that Chandler hates Thanksgiving and he wears shoes “made of wicker.”

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 JT Landry wrote:

I couldn’t forget if I tried. The image of newly thin-glam Monica wielding sexy carrot fingers and a box of macaroni is forever seared into my brain. What I love most about this particular Thanksgiving episode – and one of the many things Friends did so well – was the rich backstory the writers continued to generate for these characters. Ross and Chandler showing up in Miami Vice accoutrements and pushing up their sleeves in synchronized glory tells you all you need to know about what their college friendship was like. Flashbacks like these peppered Friends over the years and provided so much rich history for these six characters.

And, Molly, how can we not mention one of the greatest sight gags in Friends history – that fantastic tag with Monica dancing for Chandler whilst adorned with a sunglasses-wearing turkey. Remember – it was that moment that caused Chandler to first profess his love for Mon.

What do you think? Did we get them right or do you have another favorite Friends’ Thanksgiving episode? Let us know in the comments!

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