The Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes

Not many Thanksgiving episodes can lay claim to being their respective series best hours, but then again AMC’s all-time classic Mad Men isn’t just any other series. Season 1 finale “The Wheel” is certainly among the best Mad Men installments ever and it just so happens to take place during the week of Thanksgiving 1960.

The Thanksgiving timeframe serves as an elegiac backdrop and Mad Men viewers are forced to confront what kind of man Don Draper really is. Don delivers the pitch of his lifetime to Kodak executives as he urges them to imagine their latest photo wheel creation not as a sleek, dispassionate time machine, but a carousel that can bring families back home to all the most important times of their lives. Then when Don returns home for Thanksgiving, he discovers what he probably already knew – those times are gone and no carousel can bring them back.

Master of None

Season 2 Episode 8 – “Thanksgiving”

OK, we know we just said that not many Thanksgiving episodes can lay claim to being their respective series’ best but here is another contender. “Thanksgiving” is the eighth episode of Master of None’s second (and thus far, final) season and it’s a perfect example of everything the show does well.

This episode takes a break from Dev’s (Aziz Ansari) storyline in the present to delve into the past of his friend Denise (Lena Waithe). Over several Thanksgiving meals throughout the years, Denise comes to realize her attraction to women, processes it, and does her best to communicate her identity to her mom (Angela Bassett). It’s a touching saga made possible by the Thanksgiving season. It also serves as many viewers’ introduction to the storytelling dynamo that is Lena Waithe. 

This episode takes a break from Dev’s (Aziz Ansari) storyline in the present to delve into the past of his friend Denise (Lena Waithe). Over several Thanksgiving meals throughout the years, Denise comes to realize her attraction to women, processes it, and does her best to communicate her identity to her mom (Angela Bassett). It’s a touching saga made possible by the Thanksgiving season. It also serves as many viewers’ introduction to the storytelling dynamo that is Lena Waithe. 

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