Sitcoms can tackle any issue in 23 minutes, from problems at school and marital strife to selfish attempts by humanitarians to pillage Ethiopian charities. Thanksgiving episodes take these lessons on morality to a different level. A hokey message in a Thanksgiving-themed TV show is as certain as football on TV, inappropriate dinner-table comments from your drunk uncle and blog posts about Thanksgiving TV episodes.
Before the tryptophan kicks in and you kick off, here are our favorite Thanksgiving TV episodes and the valuable lessons learned from each.
1) “South Park” — “Starvin’ Marvin”
After eight gloriously offensive episodes, Season 1 of “South Park” took aim at Sally Struthers and the Christian Children’s Fund in its Thanksgiving special. Starvin’ Marvin was not exactly the sports watch the kids had sent away for.
Thanksgiving lesson learned: If an overweight woman is making pleas for charitable food donations, she might just want that food for herself.
2. “Boy Meets World” — “Turkey Day”
The Matthews and Hunter families’ joint Thanksgiving dinner was bound to go off the tracks, and it did. This was profoundly saddening for all the young boys and girls who watched, but of course, Cory and Shawn had the maturity to patch together the rift with a well-timed remark about friendship at the 22-minute mark. VIDEO
Thanksgiving lesson learned: Friends are family you choose.
3) “Friends” — “The One With The Rumor”
Before there was “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “Along Came Polly” and “Benjamin Button,” there was Brad and Jen and Brad Pitt’s guest appearance on a Thanksgiving episode of “Friends.” “Friends” had a Thanksgiving episode every season, but “The One With The Rumor” featured Pitt side-by-side with then-wife Jennifer Aniston, where he and Ross revealed that they started a rumor in high school that Rachel was a hermaphrodite. Hilarious. VIDEO
Thanksgiving lesson learned: Joey, like most other red-blooded American men, has “Thanksgiving pants.”
4. “The Simpsons” — “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”
This episode, which aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1990, is the one in which Bart and Lisa get into a fight at the dinner table, Bart ruins the centerpiece Lisa made and in doing so, ruined Thanksgiving for the family. Twenty years later, Bart is still 10 years old and still ruining everything.
Thanksgiving lesson learned: Canned cranberries are gross, even in cartoons.
5. “How I Met Your Mother” — “Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap”
In “How I Met Your Mother”‘s infamous “Slap Bet” episode, Marshall won the right to whack Barney across the face five times any time until the end of time. Two of those slaps have come on Thanksgiving, or “Slapsgiving,” and it’s brutally delightful each time.
Thanksgiving lesson learned: Everyone enjoys watching NPH get smacked in the face on Thanksgiving, especially the people on the laugh track.
6. “Everybody Loves Raymond” — “No Fat”
When Marie gets worried about her high blood pressure, she forces a tofu turkey on the men who are equally horrified and disgusted by the monstrosity. But Marie is pretty terrifying in her own sweet, grandma-ish way, so everyone tries to suck it up. VIDEO
Thanksgiving lesson learned: A tofu turkey is the healthiest way to ruin Thanksgiving.
7. “Rugrats” – “The Turkey Who Came to Dinner”
Ah, remember the “Rugrats”? Of course you do. In the Thanksgiving episode, the runts make friends with and rescue a turkey named Mr. Turkey. That’s it. VIDEO
Thanksgiving lesson learned: Do not mess with a diapered child’s animated turkey.