‘So no one told you life was gonna be this way’

Matt Busekroos

Despite leaving airwaves four and a half years ago, “Friends” continues to leave a lasting impression through its numerous re-runs on cable and in syndication. The landscape of television has drastically changed since “Friends” ended after 10 successful seasons on NBC’s Thursday Must See TV line-up. Comedies are now primarily shot in the single-camera format and the network that was once No. 1 is now last place without “Friends” around to off-set the ratings of other shows on the net. “Friends” re-runs continue to make the sitcom so memorable even thought it went off the air years ago. Specifically, the following five Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends” should be watched before the holiday passes.

The One with the Football
Originally aired on Nov. 21, 1996

What happened: The six friends play a game of football on Thanksgiving, which is essentially a way for sibling rivalry between Monica (Courteney Cox) and Ross (David Schwimmer) to re-emerge. The game begins friendly enough with the six splitting up in two groups of three with Monica, Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and Ross, Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). However, there is a drastic turn of events when the competitive natures of Monica and Ross take precedent. In the meantime, Chandler is mending a broken heart over losing girlfriend Janice (Maggie Wheeler) to her soon-to-be ex-husband. Chandler and Joey have a battle of their own over an attractive blonde woman, Margha, in the park who oversees the football game.

Why this episode is so memorable: Monica and Ross are in their quintessential competitive modes, which bring out the worst in the characters. But, the funniest moments come from their aggressive behaviors.

Exchange of the episode:
Joey: Wow, you’re like from a whole other country.
Margha: I am Dutch.
Joey: Hi, I’m Joey.
Margha: I am Margha.
Joey: I’m sorry, Dutch, I didn’t catch that last part?

The One Where Ross Got High
Originally aired on Nov. 25, 1999

What happened: Monica’s parents Jack and Judy are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner and they do not know she and Chandler are living together. Chandler must convince her parents that he is suitable for Monica (and was not the one getting high all those years ago). Rachel plans to cook dessert all on her own, a traditional English trifle. Meanwhile, Ross and Joey want to skip out on Monica’s dinner to spend the holiday with Joey’s hot new roommate Janine (Elle Macpherson) and her dancer friends.

Why this episode is so memorable: “The One Where Ross Got High” may be one of the best episodes of the ten-year run of “Friends.” Writer Greg Malins flawlessly incorporated every character into the episode and successfully managed multiple stories at once, in one setting (Monica and Chandler dealing with her parents, Ross’ stoner past, Ross and Joey wanting to leave, Rachel making dessert and Phoebe’s inappropriate crush on Jack). Kevin S. Bright directed the episode and set the characters up in a way that made every transition seem fluid. Christina Pickles’ monologue as Judy is delivered excellently following the perfectly timed outburst of every character.

Exchange of the episode:
Ross: Beef in a dessert? No, no, no. There is no way.
Joey: I know. And only one layer of jam? What is up with that?
Ross: Oh, my God. The pages are stuck together.
Joey: Chandler!
Ross: Oh, my God. She made half an English trifle and…half a shepard’s pie!


The One with the Rumor
Originally aired on Nov. 22, 2001

What happened: Monica invites an old friend from high school Will (Brad Pitt) to Thanksgiving, Joey commits to eating an entire turkey for dinner and Phoebe pretends to watch football with Chandler to avoid helping out in the kitchen.

Why this episode is so memorable: At the time when this episode aired, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were Hollywood’s “It” couple. Years after their divorce, this episode is awkward and almost tense to watch. The infamous rumor alleged that Rachel was born with male and female genitalia. Will formed the “I Hate Rachel” club in high school with Ross and spread the vicious rumor.

Exchange of the episode:
Chandler: Everyone in my school heard it. You were the hermaphrodite cheerleader from Long Island!

The One with All the Thanksgivings
Originally aired on Nov. 19, 1998

What happened: Thanksgivings of the past are re-lived through flashbacks and various stories from the friends. This even includes Phoebe talking about her past lives where she works as a nurse during battle and loses an arm each time. And Joey getting a turkey stuck on his head. Of, course.

Why this episode is so memorable: The audience finally sees the moment that Chandler had been harping on since the first season, when his parents announced their divorce to him over Thanksgiving dinner. This prompts him to never eat any foods associated with Thanksgiving after that day. And two Thanksgiving dinners at the Gellar household with Monica and Ross’ parents Jack (Elliott Gould) and Judy (Christina Pickles) in the ’80s that can be associated with Monica’s worst years. The first includes the year she overhears Chandler calling her fat and the next year she accidentally stabs his toe with a knife after her she fails to seduce him.

Exchange of the episode:
Judy: Oh, Monica, would you finish off these pies? There’s no more room in the refrigerator.
Monica: No thank you!
Jack: Well Judy, you did it. She’s finally full!

The One with Rachels
Other Sister
Originally aired on Nov. 21, 2002

What happened: Rachel’s other sister Amy (Christina Applegate) comes for a visit and ends up spending Thanksgiving with the gang. Meanwhile, Joey misses an important appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as one of the stars of “Days of Our Lives” and Monica obsesses over using the fancy china for dinner.

Why this episode is so memorable: In her Emmy-winning performance as Amy, Applegate is marvelous in her aloofness toward everyone and everything around her, including Rachel’s baby Emma. Amy takes offense that Rachel and Ross would give Emma to Monica and Chandler if they were to die. One of the funniest moments of the series occurs when Rachel and Amy fight it out and one of Monica’s fancy plates falls off the table.

Exchange of the episode:
Rachel: I would like to invite Amy to Thanksgiving.
Ross: You know, I think that’s a great idea. It’ll be like the Pilgrims bringing the Indians syphilis.