The Best Thanksgiving-Themed TV Episodes on Netflix

From 'Frasier' to 'The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,' here's how to coast through Thanksgiving in festive, streamable bliss.
November 21, 2018, 7:34pm
Thanksgiving Netflix
Images courtesy Netflix

It's Thanksgiving and the last thing you want to do is actually sit down with your family and talk about current events. The only surefire way to avoid violent outbursts this Turkey Day, besides jettisoning yourself from modern society altogether , is the sweet anesthesia of consuming media. Many of the greatest moments in television history happen during Thanksgiving-themed episodes, such as Monica's infamous turkey head incident in Friends. Now, home with family, is the perfect excuse to revisit those episodes and avoid conflict all at the same time. So light up a turkey joint, boot up Netflix, and coast through the holidays with the best moments in Thanksgiving TV history that the streaming platform has to offer.

Master of None: "Thanksgiving"

Lena Waithe and Angela Bassett’s performances as a daughter coming out to her mother made hands-down one of the most emotional moments in all of Master of None. Waithe wrote the episode herself based on her own experiences growing up black and coming out as lesbian. Even tiny details, like the fact that Jennifer Aniston was one of her first crushes, are based on reality, Waithe told Vanity Fair. The scene where Waithe’s Denise, a childhood friend of Aziz Ansari’s protagonist Dev, directly tells her mother she’s gay for the first time is instant waterworks. (Season 2, Episode 8)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: "Chapter Seven: Feast of Feasts"

This episode of Netflix’s satanic panic-inducing take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch is about a big feast her devil-worshipping family gathers at in the fall. The catch is that it involves awarding one member of the coven the honor of being eaten by the rest. Meanwhile her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) gets a very timely lesson when he learns his family stole the land they mine at great profit from indigenous witches back in the day. It’s fun for the whole family, as long as the whole family can get down with cannibalism and the learning about the injustice of colonialism. (Season 1, Episode 7)

Dexter: "Hungry Man"

If you think Thanksgiving with your family is awkward, remember the violently awkward turkey carving Dexter spent with one of his serial killer targets? Where the man of the house, Arthur Mitchell (John Lithgow) nearly killed his own son and Dexter choked him out with a belt? Honestly, after watching that, bring on the arguments about politics and religion. (Season 4, Episode 9)

Frasier: "A Lilith Thanksgiving"

Ex-wives and family holidays go great together, which is why this cringey episode of Frasier is so hilarious. In order to get their son into a fancy boarding school, Frasier and his ex, Lilith, have join forces to convince the headmaster to accept young Frederick, with disastrous results. The true joy of this episode is watching neurotic Niles painstakingly cook Thanksgiving dinner, also with disastrous results. (Season 4, Episode 7)

Also check out season seven’s Thanksgiving episode, “The Apparent Trap.”

Friends: "The One With All The Thanksgivings"

There are like, a million Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, [editor’s note: there are 10] and all of them are on Netflix. Picking a the best one is like picking a favorite child, but certainly the most iconic Thanksgiving episode is “The One With All the Thanksgivings,” in which the gang reminisces about the worst things that have happened to them on the holiday. It’s from this episode that the Mr. Bean-esque image of Monica getting her head stuck in a turkey wearing giant sunglasses comes from. For that, writers of Friends, the internet is eternally grateful.


If you like Friends, watching all 10 is an inoffensive way to power through the holiday with your family. The other episodes are: Season 1, Episode 9: "The One Where Underdog Gets Away;" Season 2, Episode 8: "The One with the List;" Season 3, Episode 9: "The One with the Football;" Season 4, Episode 8: "The One with Chandler in a Box;" Season 6, Episode 9: "The One Where Ross Got High;" Season 7, Episode 8: "The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs;" Season 8, Episode 8: "The One with the Rumor;" Season 9, Episode 8: "The One with Rachel’s Other Sister;" and Season 10, Episode 8: "The One with the Late Thanksgiving."

Gilmore Girls: "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving"

This episode is a who’s who of Star’s Hollow as Lorelai and Rory Gilmore cram three different Thanksgivings into one overstuffed day. The highlight is definitely Melissa McCarthy letting her freak flag fly as a drunk-ass Suki prickled by her husbands attempt to deep fry a turkey. But there are lots of tender moments as the Gilmores’ spend time with their chosen families. (Season 3, Episode 9)

Also check out Gilmore Girls: Season 6, Episode 10: “He's Slippin 'em Bread... Dig.”

Orange is the New Black: "Fcksgiving"

The first season of Orange Is the New Black was electric, and its Thanksgiving episode, “Fcksgiving” was where showrunner Jenji Kohen really turned up the voltage. This episode sees Pornstache Mendez at his most sociopathic yet, provides the first traumatizing look at solitary confinement as war breaks out between Piper and Pennsatucky, and fleshes out Alex’s drug trafficking origin story. All in a Thanksgiving day’s work. (Season 1, Episode 9)

Parenthood: "Happy Thanksgiving"

Watch this episode if your family doesn’t mercilessly interrupt each other in cacophonous, aggressive, loving conversations during big meals and you feel like you’re missing out. There’s a lot going on in the Braverman clan this Thanksgiving, between Adam’s anxiety about his job and tension with Gordon, Drew’s call with his father and illicit bonding session with grandpa Zeek, a tumultuous football game, and Haddie’s transgressive romance with the much old Alex. Stay away if you’ve got enough drama in your own life, but live vicariously through Jason Katim’s complex, nuanced family drama if you don’t. (Season 2, Episode 10)

Shameless: "Just Like the Pilgrims Intended"

This is the episode where Carl shoots a bald eagle with an Uzi and then the Gallaghers nearly eat it for Thanksgiving dinner. So yeah.

Everything else about this episode is, unsurprisingly, super dark, and trigger warning: there is a suicide attempt. But it’s one of the most emotional episodes of John Wells’s gritty look at poverty in America. (Season 2, Episode 11)

The West Wing: "Shibboleth"

In this episode, the left’s favorite fantasy president Charlie Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and his Communications Director CJ Cregg (Allison Janney) are faced with a moral dilemma as they decide the fates of the turkeys set aside for potential pardoning. Hearing Sheen overintellectualize the moral issues around the ritual is like cool aloe vera on the burning sensation left after political discourse in 2018. Enjoy. (Season 2, Episode 8)

Also check out Season 3, Episode 8: "The Indians in the Lobby" and Season 4, Episode 10: "Arctic Radar."

Honorable mentions:

Grey's Anatomy: "Somebody That I Used to Know" (Season 10, Episode 10:)

Mad Men: "Public Relations" (Season 4, Episode 1)

New Girl: "Thanksgiving IV" (Season 4, Episode 9)

Pretty Little Liars: "Taking This One to the Grave" (Season 5, Episode 12:)

Supergirl: "Livewire" (Season 1:, Episode 4)

That '70s Show: "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (Season 7, Episode 9)

Gossip Girl: "Gaslit" (Season 4, Episode 10)

The Vampire Diaries: "Fade Into You" (Season 6: Episode 8)

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Beckett Mufson on Twitter and Instagram.