Friends: “The One With All The Thanksgivings” – HBO Max Thanksgiving Special

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving surrounded by Friends.


Ross (David Schwimmer) complains that he is getting divorced and evicted and therefore having the worst Thanksgiving ever. Chandler (Matthew Perry) counters that his parents announced they were getting divorced on Thanksgiving when he was a kid. Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) says that she has the worst Thanksgiving story, but when pressed she tells a tale of her losing an arm in the Civil War, revealing that she’s talking about a past life. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) doesn’t reveal his own worst Thanksgiving, instead having Phoebe reveal that Joey once got his head stuck in a turkey when he tried to scare Chandler. Monica (Courteney Cox), who needs the turkey, works with Phoebe to get it off, but they do end up scaring Chandler.

It was a thoughtful turkey prank, as you can see.

Monica tells the story of her worst Thanksgiving, when she and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) were High School Seniors and Chandler and Ross came to visit from college. Monica had a crush on Chandler, but overheard him calling her fat, hurting her feelings. In the present, Chandler apologizes and Monica accepts, only for Rachel to reveal that to not be the worst Thanksgiving Monica had. Instead, she reveals that Monica lost weight just so she could have a chance to seduce Chandler and humiliate him for revenge. In the process of trying to act sexy with a knife, she cuts off Chandler’s toe. To make matters worse, she forgets to bring the toe to the hospital, leaving Chandler with only 9 tootsies. In the present, Chandler becomes angry at Monica, so Monica comes over to his apartment wearing a turkey on her head. She adds a fez, glasses, and a funny dance, leading Chandler to inadvertently admit he loves her for the first time. 

Imagine losing a toe… in that outfit.


In some ways this is the anti-Thanksgiving special because it’s about people focusing on their worst experiences as opposed to on the traditional themes of family, togetherness, or overeating. It also has everyone bringing up all of the bad experiences which can happen when you are dealing with loved ones over the holidays, including the revelations of divorces or resentment. However, it also ends with one of the most memorable moments in the show’s entire run and it stands out all the more because it’s contrasted by the other lousy memories. Maybe that’s part of the point of the episode and the holiday: It allows us to view the rest of the year and be thankful that all of the crappy things that happened to us are already over. In this, the Year of our clearly-very-pissed-off Lord 2020, it seems only appropriate to spend this holiday recognizing that we have at least survived the past year… so far. Hard to believe the year that started with massive wildfires on three continents and a possible war with Iran somehow did not get better from there.

Although our Friendsgivings are more digital this year.

This episode is one of the more prominent flashback episodes of Friends and has possibly the best gimmick ever with showing Chandler and Ross trying to be cool in the 1980s. In the first flashback, Chandler has an A Flock of Seagulls haircut, a thing that DID actually exist, kids. Fun fact: Mike Score, the guy who had the now-infamous hairstyle, was a hairdresser. The person who did Chandler’s hair was definitely not. In an even more deep-cut, the episode takes place in 1987, the year after A Flock of Seagulls dissolved. When we see Ross and Chandler a year later, in 1988, they’re dressed like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice, which was at least still airing at the time. However, they both still look completely ridiculous in their Italian sports coats over t-shirts. We also get a flashback to Rachel before her nose job and Monica before she lost a lot of weight, but those had been done before and, honestly, don’t age great.

Ross went with a pornstache which also doesn’t age well.

The most memorable part of this episode is likely still the image of Monica dancing with a turkey on her head, but it’s almost overshadowed by the absolute cuteness of Chandler admitting his love to her. It’s a thing that you may have done in a relationship, where you just have that moment that perfectly encapsulates what you find amazing about the other person and you express your feelings completely naturally.

That’s how you get the ratings, baby.

Overall, I still love this episode and I look forward to it every Thanksgiving. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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