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5 great TV shows to watch this Thanksgiving

If you’re not a football fan, you may be at a loss for something to watch on TV during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. There just isn’t a lot of Thanksgiving content to begin with, especially since the twin actor and writer strikes left most of the networks without new shows. Luckily, fans get to make their own schedules when they subscribe to the various streaming services.

Assuming you have major streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Max, then you’ll easily be able to find our picks for five great TV shows to watch this Thanksgiving. All of our picks below are considered classics, and they’re bound to be perennial Thanksgiving favorites for many years to come.

New Girl (2011-2018)

Justin Long and Zooey Deschanel in New Girl.
20th Century Studios TV

Although Thanksgiving episodes are more closely associated with Friends, New Girl also adopted the tradition of doing a Thanksgiving episode almost every season it was on the air.

What made these Thanksgiving episodes special is that the show itself was still establishing the relationships between Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and her roommates, Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and Winston (Lamorne Morris), as they gathered for a turkey dinner for the first time. And as each Thanksgiving episode arrived, fans could see how far the relationships had progressed as even Jess’ best friend, CeCe (Hannah Simone), was a full-fledged member of that tight knit group.

Watch New Girl on Hulu.

Friends (1994-2004)

Matthew Perry and Courtney Cox in Friends.
Warner Bros. TV

No list of shows to watch on Thanksgiving would be complete without Friends. While New Girl occasionally skipped Thanksgiving episodes, Friends had a new installment every year.

Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Ross (David Schwimmer), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Chandler (the late Matthew Perry) were such pop culture fixtures that it just didn’t feel like Thanksgiving if they weren’t all together. The name of the show may be Friends, but they felt like family.

Watch Friends on Max.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

The Peanuts gang has a modest Thanksgiving meal together in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
Lee Mendelson Film Productions

The Charlie Brown specials used to be an annual event on network TV, and Apple TV+ has seen the benefit of keeping this tradition alive by making A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving free to stream this weekend, which also marks the special’s 50th anniversary.

As usual, Charlie Brown (Todd Barbee) is put into a tight situation when Peppermint Patty (Christopher DeFaria) invites herself over for Thanksgiving dinner out of loneliness. And then Patty also invites Marcie (Jimmy Ahrens), and Franklin (Robin Reed). The problem is that Charlie Brown was just trying to be a good friend to Patty, and he’s not able to give her the happy Thanksgiving that she thinks she’s entitled to. But at least it’s a teachable moment, and Charlie Brown’s heart is always in the right place.

Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Apple TV+

Cheers (1982-1993)

The Cheers gang gathers for Thanksgiving.
Paramount

The Cheers gang wouldn’t exactly describe themselves as a family, but in the fifth season episode, Thanksgiving Orphans, they had nowhere else to be except with each other. Sam (Ted Danson), Diane (Shelley Long), Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), Cliff (John Ratzenberger), Norm (George Wendt), Woody (Woody Harrelson), and Carla (Rhea Perlman) all had other plans that fell apart.

Unfortunately, no one in this group is a particularly great cook. And when they argue about the unfinished turkey, it leads to a wild food fight that ranks among the show’s funniest moments. This was also one of the rare episodes largely set outside of the bar, and it even featured a glimpse of Norm’s wife, Vera, who stayed off camera during most of the show’s run.

Watch Cheers on Paramount+.

Seinfeld (1989-1998)

Bryan Cranston and Jerry Seinfeld in Seinfeld.
Castle Rock Entertainment

Seinfeld doesn’t do heartfelt episodes, which is one of the reasons why it stands out among sitcoms. The closest thing to a Thanksgiving episode that this show has is The Mom and Pop Store, the eighth episode of season 6. A pre-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston guest stars in his recurring role on the series as Tim Whatley. And it is just so unsettling to see Cranston with that much hair on his head.

The semi-Thanksgiving plotlines in this episode include Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) wondering if he’s on the outs with Tim when he doesn’t get an invite to his pre-Thanksgiving party. And after crashing the event, Jerry accidentally causes the Woody Woodpecker balloon from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade to prematurely deflate, giving Seinfeld its own hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm moment when Jerry can’t escape the blame for his actions.

Watch Seinfeld on Netflix.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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