Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Pangs”
“Pangs” is an example of Buffy in its prime: Joss Whedon doesn’t shy away from examining how we screwed over the Native Americans, but he also uses a Chumash spirit as the episode’s main antagonist. Since it’s set during the show’s short-lived college years, you have the real-world issues of Buffy struggling to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her friends at Giles’ apartment since her mom is out of town. Not to mention her ex Angel swinging into town to keep her safe…
Above is a short, funny bit from the episode, but if you’ve got access to Hulu Plus, you can watch the whole thing here.
Gossip Girl, “Blair Waldorf Must Pie!”
Say what you will about Gossip Girl‘s soapiness, but I’m a sucker for episodes that turn themes on their ears. We all know Thanksgiving to be about eating lots of turkey and pie with family, but here Blair (Leighton Meester) eats to fight back the pain of her estranged father not making it to New York for the holiday. I knew from the books that Blair had issues with bulimia, but it was presented her in such a heartbreaking way that I was shocked all over again.
Again, no embedding, but you can watch the scene here.
How I Met Your Mother, “Slapsgiving”
But let’s end this gallery on a happy note, yeah? How about Jason Segel slapping the smirk off Neil Patrick Harris‘ face on HIMYM? “Slapsgiving” is sort of the sequel to the infamous season 2 episode “Slap Bet” and addresses several of the plotlines: For the past year, Barney has lived in fear of the three more slaps that Marshall is allowed to dole out without warning. When Marshall sets up SlapCountDown.com to further terrify him, Lily gets fed up and calls off the slaps. Until, of course, Barney is a total tool about it, as you’ll see above.
There’s also the issue that “Slap Bet” was about Ted learning Robin’s secret of being a Canadian pop star, and by the time “Slapsgiving” rolls around, they’re broken up and afraid that their friendship’s been lost. I won’t ruin the episode, but it lays some pretty impressive ground in the whole Ted/Robin relationship.
So those are our favorite Thanksgiving episodes—please share yours in the comments!