What to Watch This Thanksgiving
The Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes of All Time
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many of us will make the long venture back home to stay with our families for the long weekend. While spending quality time with family can be fun, there will inevitably be lulls in each of our breaks. To fill uncomfortable silence with extended family, here are some fantastic episodes from iconic television shows beloved by many. Thanksgiving brings forth feelings of togetherness, love, and family—feelings these shows beautifully and comedically exemplify.
- Gilmore Girls,“A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” (Season 3, Episode 9): Available on Netflix
With the backdrop of picturesque Stars Hollow, Connecticut, the mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore are the best of friends. Lorelai runs a local inn and Rory spends almost all of her time studying and reading. This Thanksgiving, the girls are expected to appear at four different Thanksgiving dinners. Lorelai’s parents, their friend Luke, their friend Suki, and Rory’s friend Lane are each hosting their own Thanksgiving celebration and expect Lorelai and Rory to be in attendance. With a packed schedule, the girls attempt to make appearances at each of the events, lighting up the room in every place they go.
- New Girl,“Parents” (Season 2, Episode 8): Available on Netflix
The comedy hit New Girl follows the life of Jessica Day, a teacher who broke up with her boyfriend and moved into an apartment with three single guys she met on the internet. The four of them end up spending all of their time together and become best friends. In this holiday episode, Jess attempts to get her divorced parents back together over Thanksgiving dinner at her apartment. Despite her best efforts, her plan ultimately fails, but it still makes for a lighthearted and fun episode.
- Friends, “The One with All the Thanksgivings” (Season 5, Episode 8): Available on Netflix
The classic sitcom from the 90s, Friends, portrays the life of six friends in their twenties living in Manhattan, New York City. One of the friends, Monica, hosts Thanksgiving in her apartment, where her brother, Ross, complains about how he is having the worst Thanksgiving of his life. Subsequently, the friends recall the most horrific Thanksgivings that they have each suffered through, and amusing flashbacks are shared.
- Modern Family, “Three Turkeys” (Season 6, Episode 8): Available on Hulu
Modern Family tells the story of Jay, wife to Gloria and stepfather to her son Manny, and father to Mitchell and Claire, who each have their own families. The comedy series offers a sincere depiction of family dynamics, while always ending each episode on a happy note. This Thanksgiving, Claire prepares a secret Turkey (Turkey #2) after predicting her husband will fail at his task of preparing the family turkey (Turkey #1). After turmoil ensues, a third turkey gets thrown into the mix and fingers are pointed.
- Bob’s Burgers, “Turkey’s in a Can” (Season 4, Episode 5): Available on Hulu
Bob’s Burgers follows the life of Bob Belcher, the owner of Bob’s Burgers, which he runs with his wife Linda and their three children, Louise, Tina, and Gene. Bob has decided to take the preparation of the Thanksgiving turkey very seriously this year and starts the brine three days before the holiday. Somehow, the turkey ends up in the toilet. Over the next three days, Bob buys several turkeys that all meet deplorable ends. In an attempt to solve the crime of who is ruining each turkey, Louise tries her best to be a detective. Filled with a family-made Thanksgiving song, this funny episode is quick and a perfect option for the family.
All of these episodes are family-friendly and are available on either Netflix or Hulu.
In Memoriam: James Michael Tyler
In Memoriam: James Michael Tyler
Remembering the Iconic Friends Actor
Nikki Idelson ’22
James Michael Tyler, the actor well-known for his role as Gunther on the television show Friends, died on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at the age of 59. According to The New York Times, “the cause [of his death] was prostate cancer, which was diagnosed in September 2018.” Tyler fought a long and hard battle, all the while sharing his story to spread awareness about prostate cancer.
Friends debuted in the 90s and ran for 10 seasons. It follows the lives of six friends living in Manhattan as they go through life together. This description of the show encapsulates why it was and continues to be incredibly popular. Indeed, viewers feel as though they can relate to the characters and their everyday life experiences. Tyler played Gunther, a barista at Central Perk, where the friends spent a great deal of time. The character’s most notable trait was his deep crush on Rachel, played by Jennifer Aniston. While he was not one of the “friends,” he was still widely regarded as having a prominent role in the show. According to The New York Times, “he appeared in 150 episodes.”
However, Tyler was not always an actor. He was born in Mississippi on May 28, 1962 and was the youngest of five children. He attended Clemson University for his undergraduate degree. Then, according to The New York Times, “he earned a master’s of fine arts from the University of Georgia and moved to Los Angeles after a brief stint of selling cars in Olympia, Washington.” He went on to become a barista, which is when he was discovered by the creators of Friends, Marta Kauffman and David Crane. In a 2012 interview with the Times, Tyler explained that he was “working as a barista for a place called the Bourgeois Pig, one of the last independent coffee houses in Los Angeles.”
Tyler was beloved by everyone that he worked with, including Kauffman and Crane. They released the following statement in the wake of Tyler’s death: “When he started as an extra on Friends, his unique spirit caught our eye and we knew we had to make him a character.” At the beginning of his appearance on the show, he was mainly an extra; throughout the ten seasons of Friends, however, he grew to develop a more prominent role that helped to complete the show. Kauffman and Crane also said that Tyler’s performance was essential to the show because “he made Gunther’s unrequited love incredibly relatable.” Such aspects of Tyler’s performance made him a fan favorite.
Tyler was not just beloved for his role in Friends, but also for how he carried out his day-to-day life. According to CNN, his representative released a statement following his death that proclaimed, “Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband.”
It is clear that Tyler touched the lives of his fans, friends, and family. For those who are interested in seeing his most recent work, make sure to check out the short films The Gesture and the Word and Processing. James Michael Tyler will be dearly missed.