Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Jenn’s Pick: A Definitive Ranking of the Friends Thanksgivings [Contributor: Jenn]

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While many have Thanksgiving traditions involving food and family, one of my favorite traditions during this holiday is my annual re-watch of all of the Friends Thanksgiving-themed episodes. I love that each of them are so different, and yet still make me laugh every time I watch them. In the spirit of giving, I've decided to rank the show's ten Thanksgiving-themed episodes from worst to best. So join me for pregnancy pants, rumors, and plenty of jokes.

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10. "The One With the List"

This episode ranks dead last, partly because it's not even really a Thanksgiving episode (there's just a plot point that involves Monica cooking with Mockolate), but mostly because it involves Ross creating a list of reasons he shouldn't date Rachel.

Ross is the worst.

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9. "The One With Chandler in a Box"

When Chandler kisses Joey's girlfriend, the latter gets upset — refusing to speak to his best friend. But soon, Joey discovers a way that Chandler can pay for his crimes: by spending Thanksgiving in a giant box, thinking about what he did and how he betrayed their friendship. Meanwhile, while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, Monica accidentally gets ice in her eye and needs to go to the eye doctor. As it turns out, the on-call doctor is Richard's son. Things get awkward when she invites him over for dinner.

While I don't necessarily hate "The One With Chandler in a Box" (it does give us that wonderful Monica scene where she points out how messed up everyone is and how hypocritical it is for them to lecture her), there are some elements of it that I don't care for. The storyline with Monica and Richard's son is weird, and it's kind of pointless. He literally shows up to affirm exactly how weird it would be for them to pursue anything romantically. And while having Chandler locked in a box most of the episode does afford some fun off-screen comedy and a few little physical bits from Matthew Perry, it's a little far-fetched of an idea, even for these friends to execute.

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8. "The One With Rachel's Other Sister"

When Rachel's sister, Amy, shows up unexpectedly on Thanksgiving, everyone learns pretty quickly just how grating she can be. I'll be the first to admit that the reason this episode ranks pretty low on my list is because of that — Amy is irritating. Even though this technically isn't a bottle episode, it's a pretty self-contained Thanksgiving episode: all of the plots revolve around the holiday. Rachel has to deal with her petty, immature sister; Monica worries about using her wedding china for Thanksgiving; and Joey gets lessons on lying from Phoebe because he forgot to show up with the rest of the Days of Our Lives cast for the Macy's parade.

Perhaps the best thing about the episode is the conversation the group has about who would get Emma, should anything happen to Ross and Rachel. I love that the group actually discusses stuff like this, being as close-knit as they are. There are some funny moments in the episode, but more just involve Amy's inability to remember her niece's name.

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7. "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs"

For some random reason, Phoebe has a dog in this episode that she's hidden from Monica and Chandler, and we learn that Chandler hates dogs and kind of also fears them (we also learn that Ross hates ice cream because of course he hates anything that's actually good). The gang spends the episode hiding the dog from Chandler in multiple locations, while Rachel tries to figure out whether or not she should tell her assistant, Tag, that she has feelings for him. In what is actually the best plot of the episode, Ross plays a game where he has to name all 50 states and challenges himself to do so before dinner. He fails spectacularly.

Apart from giving us one of my favorite lines of the show ("It's a moo point. It's like a cow's opinion. It doesn't matter — it's moo"), this episode allowed us the chance to watch David Schwimmer do what he did best: play a superior Ross slowly dissolve into hysterics. I've played the state game before, and it is REALLY hard to actually do. (If you want to challenge yourself, do it. I got 49/50. STUPID CONNECTICUT.)

This episode also kicks off the Tag/Rachel saga. I liked Tag, if only because he was played by Eddie Cahill. He was young, but genuinely sweet. But ultimately, the title of the episode — which focuses on the dog — became the least interesting plot point in it.

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6. "The One Where Underdog Gets Away"

This is the first true Thanksgiving episode in Friends, and a fun one. It features the gang preparing for Thanksgiving, but ultimately all being stuck together after each of their plans fall through. Rather than spend it with their parents, who are away, Monica and Ross host Thanksgiving at Monica's apartment. Rachel, meanwhile, prepares to go to Vail while Joey plans to spend the holiday with his family. Both Rachel and Joey's plans fall through — Rachel's because the gang gets locked out of the apartment and she misses her flight; Joey because a questionable choice in an ad campaign led his family to shun him for the holiday. This year begins the saga of why Chandler hates Thanksgiving so much too, by the way.

The gang eventually sits down for dinner together — grilled cheese, after being locked out of the apartment ruins the meal that Monica had on the stove — and they all toast to the fact that their holiday plans fell through so they could spend a crappy one together. This isn't the most joke-heavy episode, but I love it because it a) is the first Thanksgiving, and b) reminds the audience that it doesn't matter what these friends do, as long as they're together.

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5. "The One With the Late Thanksgiving"

After talking to two of my best friends about their Thanksgiving episode rankings, I was surprised they had this one listed further down. I love the last Thanksgiving episode of Friends, even though it features three fractured storylines. Initially, Monica refuses to host Thanksgiving because life is too hectic. But everyone else insists... and then they prioritize other things above the dinner. Rachel and Phoebe enter Emma in a baby beauty pageant, while Joey and Ross head to a hockey game. Chandler, meanwhile, is really excited to help Monica with dinner because he made the cranberries. He's weirdly proud of them the whole episode.

There are fun shenanigans in this one that make it memorable — the "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire, Water Balloon" for instance, and the visual gag of the gang poking their heads through the door. It's fun because by season ten, the group dynamics have been long established, so the actors get to have fun with the stories that come their way. Why I really love this episode though is for the end: Monica and Chandler get the call that, in spite of their ruined Thanksgiving, they're getting a baby. Their friends are there to hug and congratulate them and all ends well. Just as holiday episodes should end.

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4. "The One With the Football"

When the gang decides to play a game of touch football on Thanksgiving, all bets are off in pursuit of the coveted Geller Cup. This episode is so much fun. I admit that I enjoy episodes of television shows that take the characters out of their normal sphere of action. So when the gang gets to move from the apartment to a field to play football, I do a happy dance. Plus, who doesn't love an episode where we get to watch Ross and Monica bicker non-stop the entire time? I love how competitive the two are with each other (their sharp qualities balance each other out, and it's more fun when the rest of the group points out how absurd they're being), and that Phoebe gets to play football. And whether or not it actually counted, Rachel caught the ball and made a touchdown. Good for her!

Really though, the MVP of the episode is that creepy Geller Cup. Yikes.

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3. "The One With All the Thanksgivings"

I'm such a sucker for flashback episodes, especially the ones in Friends. So you had to know that this flashback-filled Thanksgiving episode would rank among my favorites. It's the episode where we see a few of the characters in their best flashback attire, learn how Chandler hurt Monica when they were younger, and also see Monica's worst Thanksgiving. Any episode featuring the pre-nose job Rachel and fat Monica are great episodes in my book. This Thanksgiving episode has the edge though, because in the present-day, we get the chance to see Chandler confess his true feelings to Monica by telling her that he loves her.

The episode being centered around Chandler and Monica is actually what makes it so fun and so heartwarming, too. Chandler hates Thanksgiving (as he explains in the oft-quoted "More turkey, Mr. Chandler?" scene), and so to be able to have him take back the holiday in a way by making it about professing his love to his girlfriend is pretty great.

And did I mention... flashback characters?

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2. "The One With the Rumor"

Where to even start with this episode? Obviously it takes home the silver medal for being so dang funny and also hosting one of the show's best guest stars: a young Brad Pitt. The main plot of the episode is that Will, one of Monica and Ross' friends from high school, is in town and drops by for Thanksgiving. Unbeknownst to Rachel, she made Will's life miserable in high school, and he hates her. In a more Thanksgiving-centric plot, Monica decides to cook a turkey, only after Joey verbally agrees that he will eat it (since only a few people want/will eat turkey this year). It leads to Joey's meat sweats and him donning a pair of Rachel's pregnancy pants. Matt LeBlanc gets to have a lot of fun in this episode with the physical comedy of Joey eating, while everyone else is at the top of their game in joke delivery.

Rachel learns that Ross was a co-founding member of the "I hate Rachel Green" club in high school, and helped start a rumor about her that spread around ("Everyone at MY school heard! You were the hermaphrodite cheerleader from Long Island?"), while Rachel spread a rumor, that turned out to be true, about Ross making out with the school librarian. This episode is the perfect integration of a guest star into the plot, since Will is the catalyst for the hilarity ensuing. Plus, some of Will's lines are my favorites of the episode ("My two greatest enemies, Ross: Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates" and "Queen Rachel does whatever she wants in her little Rachel land").

Honestly, this episode is just so much fun to re-watch. But not as fun as my #1 pick which is, you've guessed it...

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1. "The One Where Ross Got High"

This episode is everything. I quote this scene with my friends on a near-weekly basis. I yell "I WANNA GOOOOOO" like Joey. I love the outtakes of Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer trying to get through the line, "It tastes like feet." And I love that this episode takes place during Thanksgiving and features our favorite parents, Jack and Judy Geller. When Jack and Judy arrive, Monica hides the fact that she's living with Chandler because they apparently hate him. Ross figures out why, and explains that he smoked pot in college and blamed it on Chandler. Throughout the remainder of the episode, we focus on a few minor stories in addition to that one: Rachel is tasked with making the dessert and accidentally (without her knowledge) screws up the recipe, while Phoebe ruminates on a dream she had about Jack.

Why is this my favorite Friends Thanksgiving episode, you ask? Because it's quintessentially and unashamedly the show in a nutshell: an episode featuring a few misunderstandings and mishaps, hilariously loud confessions, and overexaggerations. Everyone brings their A-game, and it's an episode so frequently quoted that you'd be hard-pressed to find a Friends fan who doesn't know each of the confessions by heart.

Well, there you have it! Do you agree with my rankings? What are your favorite Friends Thanksgiving episodes? Sound off in the comments below and have a happy holiday! :)

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