Month: November 2015

A Cornucopia of Thanksgiving Television

This week, Emily gives you some pointers for enjoying Thanksgiving television over a lazy and food-filled weekend with family and friends.

It’s almost Thanksgiving (huzzah!). It’s almost time for watching Charlie Brown holiday specials, and getting third helpings of pie, and becoming way too invested in the aesthetic merits of hand-turkeys. This Thursday we (here in the States, at least) can all get to arguing about whether we’d rather watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or football. We’ll join together with family and friends and enjoy togetherness and camaraderie — whether we decide to be serious, giving thanks for our blessings, or silly, arguing about who was more embarrassingly bad at Pictionary at the LAST get-together.

Thanksgiving is a particularly comfortable holiday. It’s tinged with nostalgia, but not with all of the heightened expectations of Christmas. It’s tinged with Americana, but not with the fireworky patriotism of Independence Day. It’s a day about gathering together with those you love and taking a moment to eat well and to ignore the seemingly thousands of things on your to-do list. It’s a cozy and warm — and not particularly edgy.

Perhaps that’s why, when I think about Thanksgiving television, it mostly fits in the realm of feel-good tv. Of course, that’s not to say that only optimistic shows have Thanksgiving specials. Mad Men had a bunch of Thanksgiving episodes — and I can’t say that I find the existential ennui of Mad Men very Thanksgiving-y. But when I think about Thanksgiving television, I think about that television that you go back to every year. Sometimes, maybe, you rewatch it with family and friends; other times, you quote it back and forth with your dad while your grandmother watches her Eagles game on tv. Truly iconic Thanksgiving episodes are the ones that you go back to time and time again, quoting, riffing on, and alluding to, until you and your loved ones have developed your own allusive language around the fictional dinners of favorite characters.

So this year, in honor of Thanksgiving, I’ve assembled a cornucopia of Thanksgiving episodes. Like any good cornucopia, there’s no “best” or “worst” — but there’s hopefully something to everyone’s taste. So whether you’re trying to compile your Thanksgiving tv marathon, or just to brush up on your pop culture allusions before you see your Netflix-obsessed cousins again, please enjoy TTLP’s favorite Thanksgiving episodes. And happy holidays!

“A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving” — Gilmore Girls (Season 3, Episode 9)

Lorelai and Rory eat their way through four Thanksgiving dinners; chaos, romance, and drama ensue, and Lorelai gets to use her Visigoth material, for once.

“The One with All the Thanksgivings” — Friends (Season 5, Episode 8)

In the same vein of the plurality of Thanksgivings that the Gilmores experience, Monica, Chandler, and the rest of the gang recount their worst Thanksgivings. Joey once got his head stuck in a turkey, Chandler once had a flock-of-seagulls haircut, and Phoebe was once a Civil War battlefield nurse. Also Monica and Chandler say that they love each other (!!).

“The One Where Underdog Gets Away” — Friends (Season 1, Episode 9)

Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, and Joey celebrate their first friendsgiving together, after none of them end up able to go home to their families for the holiday. After an escaped balloon, a missed flight, and a burned turkey, they have a lovely night dining on a lavish meal of grilled cheese. “So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m very thankful that all of your Thanksgivings sucked.”

“Pangs” — Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 4, Episode 8)

When a building project accidentally disturbs an ancient Native American site, a vengeful spirit comes after the Scooby Gang. Buffy fights supernatural foes, negotiates the complicated politics of Thanksgiving’s relationship to the genocide of Native Americans, and triumphs against the chaos of planning a *proper* Thanksgiving dinner.

“Wasn’t exactly a perfect Thanksgiving.”

“I don’t know, seemed kind of right to me. A bunch of anticipation, a big fight, and now we’re all sleepy.”

“Indians in the Lobby” — The West Wing (Season 3, Episode 7)

Sam and Toby deal with the possible political ramifications of a new way of calculating the poverty line, and C.J. tries to get her head around the systematic oppression of Native Americans. But really, this is the episode where President Bartlet calls the Butterball Hotline.

“The One with Chandler in a Box” — Friends (Season 4, Episode 8)

Monica invites her ex’s hunky son to Thanksgiving (“It’s like inviting a Greek tragedy over for dinner!”), while Chandler spends Thanksgiving in a box to atone for kissing Joey’s then-girlfriend (Joey had reasons. They were three-fold). Paget Brewster (of Thrilling Adventure Hour and five hundred other things) and Michael Vartan (of Alias) guest star.

“Shibboleth” — The West Wing (Season 2, Episode 8)

In which President Bartlet talks about faith, the boys put turkeys in C.J.’s office, and everyone learns what “shibboleth” means.

“Turkeys Away” — WKRP In Cincinnati (Season 1, Episode 7)

“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Seven Interviews for a Cold November Afternoon

This week, Emily recommends some insightful interviews to keep you company on a slow autumnal afternoon.

If April is the cruelest month and July is the most exuberant, then November, I think, is the most introspective. It’s cold outside, and the days are getting shorter, and everyone’s looking forward to getting together with friends and family for Thanksgiving (here in the States at least) and then the holidays. It’s not so much a time of going out to picnics and barbecues and meeting new people — it’s a time of huddling up with a good book or album (see our list from last year for recommendations!) and checking-in with yourself.

It’s no surprise, then, that the main November-y quote that’s been going around my social media feeds this week is from Famous Introvert Emily Dickinson:

It is also November. The noons are more laconic and the sunsets sterner, and Gibraltar lights make the village foreign. November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.

(Note: that link is TOTALLY worth your time. Not to over-promote my own curatorial attempts or anything, but seriously. It’s awesome.)

Whatever Famous Introvert Emily Dickinson might have to say about it, though, introspection isn’t just about sitting alone, though. It’s about good conversation and meaningful dialogue and emotional intimacy. It’s about thinking about yourself, but not in a totally narcissistic way. It’s about taking stock. So this week, in honor of good conversations, and meaningful dialogue, and grey November afternoons, I’m recommending seven interviews to keep you company as you cuddle up with wool blankets and kitty cats and long novels and all of the other accoutrements of slow autumnal days.

1. Joel Lovell Interviews Stephen Colbert for GQ

Lovell turns a gorgeous interview with Colbert (about the then-forthcoming Late Show) into a profile that covers show biz, politics, silliness, Tolkien, religion, and grief.

“The next thing he said I wrote on a slip of paper in his office and have carried it around with me since. It’s our choice, whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain. ‘At every moment, we are volunteers.’”

2. Marilynne Robinson and Barack Obama Converse, in Two Parts

Obama and Robinson interview each other — or maybe just chat — for the New York Review of Books.

“And it [Hamilton: An American Musical] is brilliant, and so much so that I’m pretty sure this is the only thing that Dick Cheney and I have agreed on—during my entire political career—it speaks to this vibrancy of American democracy, but also the fact that it was made by these living, breathing, flawed individuals who were brilliant.”

(Sorry, you guys. I’m really really not done connecting everything in my life back to Hamilton. But, in my defense, Barack Obama isn’t either.)

3. Matt Gourley Interviews Stephen Tobolowsky on I Was There Too

On a film podcast dedicated to interviewing people who were also in famous moments in cinema history, Matt Gourley sits down to talk with Stephen Tobolowsky about Groundhog Day, Harold Ramis, and Deadwood.

4. Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton Interview Hillary Clinton on Another Round

The hosts of the excellent podcast Another Round talk to Hillary Clinton about politics, sexism, Black Lives Matter, and squirrels.

5. Miranda July Interviews Rihanna

Miranda July turns an interview with Rihanna — in which they talk about Instagram, guys, and race — into a meditation on what it means to feel connected to celebrities.

“‘Rihanna. I’m going to meet her, to interview her. That’s where we’re going.’’

‘‘You kidding? That’s my girl,’’ he said. ‘‘I love her. She’s so down-to-earth. She always keep it cool with her friend and her family. Her and Melissa, I think they are the best celebrity friends. I always say that.’’

6. Susan Burton Interviews Terry Gross for The New York Times

Susan Burton talks to Terry Gross about what it means to have an intimate conversation with a stranger.

‘‘I try not to confuse the two. I try not to equate the interview with real life. But at the same time, there’s an intimacy in the interview — like, I’m telling you things that people I work with probably don’t know, because it doesn’t come up. I would tell them if they asked, but it’s just not a part of what you talk about in day-to-day work life necessarily.’’

7. Terry Gross Interviews Maurice Sendak on Fresh Air

Terry Gross, the Queen of Interviews herself, talks with Maurice Sendak about life, death and children’s literature.

“Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.”

Happy Reading!