Alright I don’t want to get political, but this list via Buzzfeed is wrong. I’m dismayed by the skewed analysis presented in the aforementioned list/article and I would like to present my case for the list below. I believe the way more accurate listing should go something like this (10 being the 10th best, 1 being the best best):
10. The One with Rachel’s Other Sister (Season 9) - No one even remembers this is a Thanksgiving episode and Christina Applegate (although apparently winning an Emmy for her performance, which was admittedly funny), was kind of annoying.
9. The One with the List (Season 2) – While this episode has an extremely dear place in everyone’s hearts, as it is a pivotal plot point in the Rachel-Ross saga, it is low on T-giving content, which is pretty much the only reason it ranks so low on this list.
8. The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs (Season 7) – Although containing the classic “It’s moo” quote, the episode is low on Thanksgiving content and also the whole Tag arc made me uncomfortable.
7. The One with Chandler in a Box (Season 4) – This episode is solid, producing what is arguably the most famously quotable line of any other episode (“Fine. Judge all you want to, but married a lesbian, left a man at the altar, fell in love with a gay ice dancer, threw a girl’s wooden leg in a fire, and live in a box!” -Monica), it is only tangentially Thanksgiving related, thus ranking lower on this Thanksgiving-based list.
6. The One with the Late Thanksgiving (Season 10) – Not only is this episode very very funny and directly Thanksgiving-related, it gets extra points because it redeems Season 10 by demonstrating ability to adhere to high quality comedy in what was arguably a rather lack-luster past few seasons in comparison to the rich comedic writing of seasons earlier in the series. Well done, Season 10 T-giving ep.
5. The One Where Underdog Gets Away (Season 1) – Straight up not that hilarious, but gets street cred because it’s the first Friends T-giving episode, begetting a beautiful, beautiful tele-tradition. It’s good, but definitely NOT #2 material DEFINITELY not.
4. The One with the Rumor (Season 8) – This is the first episode on this list thus far to demonstrate unequivocal precision in executing high marks in each of the 5 categories used to judge a Friends Thanksgiving episode, which are in no particular order: Thanksgiving-related content (food, setting, traditions, general references to the fact it is Thanksgiving); tight writing with multiple story arcs for different characters and solid resolution at end of episode of all arcs; dredging up of past histories/traditions from characters’ early lives; episode focuses mainly on the friendships of the Friends, most easily notable by presence of very few supporting characters and a lengthy duration of time spent solely in the apartment, so as to create minimal distractions from the Friends’ friendship development; general hilarity. In short we will call these categories: Thanksgiving-related; Plot Arc and Resolution; History/Tradition; Friend Focus; General Hilarity. This episode gets high marks in each of these categories, with each character having a separate plot line that ingeniously also ties into Will’s presence and past. Also Brad Pitt guest stars and he is HILARIOUS and it’s fun to see him and Jennifer Aniston act together, as they were married at the time of filming. Well done, The One with the Rumor.
3. The One with All the Thanksgivings (Season 5) – Flashbacks galore, Friends appearing as past selves (including Phoebe in her past life as a war nurse), and a heartwarming plot point of reconciliation and relationship development for Monica and Chandler, this episode is well-deserving of a top 3 position.
2. The One with the Football (Season 3) – Scoring high marks in all Friends T-giving categories, this episode is classic, quotable, and hilarious. It is quintessentially what one thinks of when thinking of Friends Thanksgiving.
1. The One Where Ross Got High (Season 6) – This may be a slightly contentious ranking as high honors top Friends Thanksgiving episode, but I stand by it and here is why. Thanksgiving-related: 10/10. Plot is entirely premised on a Thanksgiving gathering and the importance of the Thanksgiving meal and attendance by all Friends. Plot Arc and Resolution: 10/10. Fast-paced yet detail-rich, and almost unparalleled in its execution, the mayhem that is the Thanksgiving feast is beautifully summed and soothed by Judy Geller’s exquisite dialogue at the end of the episode: “That’s a lot of information to get in thirty seconds. All right, Joey, if you wanna leave, just leave. Rachel, no, you weren’t supposed to put peas in the trifle. It did not taste good. Phoebe, I’m sorry, but I think Jacques Cousteau is dead. Monica, why you felt you had to hide the fact that you had an important relationship is beyond me… Ross, drugs? Divorced? Again? … Chandler! You’ve been Ross’s best friend all these years, stuck by him during the drug problems. And now you’ve taken on Monica as well. Well, I don’t know what to say. You’re a wonderful human being.” – Judy Geller. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. History/Tradition: 10/10. Ross and Chandler’s friendship and stoner hijinx, fat Monica, Rachel making trifle instead of Monica’s traditional cooking; rife with tradition, spot on. Friend Focus: 9/10. This is the only category which gets less than perfect marks, which comes only from the fact that Janine is involved, and she is a recurring, though not central, character. The episode takes place within the apartment and there are major plot/relationship developments for half of the Friends. Judy and Jack’s presence is welcome and beneficial as it adds to the family backstory. General hilarity: 10/10. “It tastes like FEET.” Hardly more needs to be said, however, if more is needed: Phoebe is in love with Jack Geller, nay, Jaques Cousteau, Chandler and Ross relive their time as stoner teenagers, Rachel makes trifle which is DISGUSTING yet Joey loves it, Monica and Ross get into a yelling match about their hilarious childhoods. In sum, this episode epitomizes what it is to be a Friends Thanksgiving episode, and while it is not far above #2 on this list, it wins out due to its precision comedic timing and extreme laugh-factor due to terrible trifle and surprise twist at the end.
Buzzfeed’s Ranking (denoted in shorthand): Chandler Hates Dogs, The List, Rachel’s Other Sister, Ross Got High, Chandler in a Box, The Rumor, Late Thanksgiving, Football, Underdog, All the Thanksgivings.
My ranking: Rachel’s Other Sister, The List, Chandler Hates Dogs, Chandler in a Box, Late Thanksgiving, Underdog, The Rumor, All the Thanksgivings, Football, Ross Got High.
My thanks to Buzzfeed for putting forth their list, which – although it ignores some basic premises for accurate Friends Thanksgiving ep analysis – does bring to prominence the importance of Friends Thanksgiving episode respect, analysis, and most of all how great Friends is and how it brings people together because it’s hilarious. This is not the beginning nor the end of ranking analysis; please feel free to submit your own rankings and continue the discussion.