I have been promising to write an updated list of my top five holiday movies since, oh, late 2011? When I posted my first version before I endeavored on my 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks project. And since, you know, Christmas is, like, the day after tomorrow and it’s now 2013, I thought: why not?! Or something.
*: You have no idea how satisfying it was to type that sentence. And then speak it aloud like fifteen times. Glory.
10. Season 2, “The One with the List” – The least appealing part of Friends for me, both upon initial airing and in the years of subsequent reruns, is the back and forth Ross and Rachel nonsense. It’s not that the romances on the show aren’t interesting — I love Monica and Chandler’s fumbling courtship because I’m not dead inside — it’s just that the friendships are so much more compelling. Ross and Rachel date, they don’t date, either way I don’t really care. Even if that wasn’t the emphasis of this ep, it’d still fall to the bottom of the list for not really being about Thanksgiving at all. If it weren’t for Monica’s mockolate scenes with Michael McKean the ep would hardly be worth watching at all.
9. Season 9, “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister” – You know how sitcoms love to introduce really irritating characters and then rally the comedic forces of their casts around pointing out just how annoying that character is? I hate that. Christina Applegate is great at what she was brought into do, but it just feels unbearable and uninspired. Great tender moments of friendship, a lot of great Chandler emotions, and the entire China plot make it very watchable despite its flaws.
8. Season 1, “The One Where Underdog Gets Away” – The one that started it all! The most impressive thing about this episode is that it was the ninth episode of Friends ever and the characters already feel fleshed and whole. Love Joey’s STD posters, Chandler’s Thanksgiving issues, and Phoebe’s general willowiness.
7. Season 3, “The One with the Football” – Monica and Ross’s sibling rivalry is an early delight and, as always, weird Geller traditions are a highlight. Phoebe’s enthusiasm is maybe my favorite part of the entire episode and Joey and Chandler’s competitiveness verges on just the right kind of meanness without being unbearable. A solid and very Thanksgiving-y entry.
6. Season 8, “The One with the Rumor” – Problematic gender, trans*, and fat hate issues aside, this one’s got a nice turn from Brad Pitt and some decently funny moments. Ross’s tender remembrance of the tryst he had with his high school librarian is particularly charming and well-played.
5. Season 6, “The One Where Ross Got High” – Mr. and Mrs. Geller make an appearance in one of the strongest and most laugh out loud of the bunch. Notable not just for Rachel’s beef and pea trifle, but also Monica and Ross selling each other’s secrets out to their parents in a shouting match followed by Christina Pickles’s pitch-perfect delivery of the ultimate mom monologue. Glorious.
4. Season 7, “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs” – Tons of great laugh out loud moments in this one including Matt LeBlanc’s hilariously delivered “Don’t do it!” (which also has a great blooper) and Ross’s dislike of ice cream. Jennifer Aniston’s dry delivery and perfect timing are also a delight. She’s often overlooked when people talk about the cast, but she’s killer and this is a particularly great example of her.
3. Season 10, “The One with the Late Thanksgiving” – A hilarious and heartwarming turn from the final season of the show, notable for Chandler and Monica receiving news that they’ve been chosen as adoptive parents. This is one of those trope-y sitcom episodes where everything kind of goes disastrous but it’s got a lot of great laughs including the dumb but delightful talking heads bit and the baby beauty pageant. The news of the adoption is particularly sweet, the kind of news you want surrounded by the people you love most.
2. Season 5, “The One with All the Thanksgivings” – Friends flashback episodes are well-loved for a reason and this one is no exception. Joey getting the turkey stuck on his head is funny enough, but escalated when Phoebe tries to disguise him from Monica with parsley. Pre-nose job Rachel is a favorite every time she shows up and Chandler and Ross’s thematic outfits are glorious. Another great turn from Christina Pickles and Elliott Gould rounds out a great ep.
1. Season 4, “The One with Chandler in a Box” – This ep is hands-down my favorite because it’s not only the one that makes me laugh the hardest and most consistently, but also because its driving force is really friendship. Chandler and Joey’s relationship is always a great source of comedy for the show and it doesn’t disappoint here. Matthew Perry’s not even visible for most of the episode and he’s still killer. Michael Vartan is particularly babely and charming and his awkward kiss on the balcony with Courtney Cox is flawlessly hilarious.
What’s your top ten? What are your other Thanksgiving faves? Are you rewatching The West Wing where President Bartlet calls the Butterball Turkey Line today too? Or are you just eating a whole bunch and staring at the dog show? Whatever you do, enjoy it and know that I am thankful for you!