The major Thanksgiving traditions are pretty consistent throughout America. People get together with their families, share the things for which they are most grateful, watch football and the parade, and enjoy the holiday’s typical bountiful feast of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
But of course, some of us—those of us who have built our lives around our surrogate family: TV—have developed a few alternative traditions over the years.
And of course, some of these television-inspired traditions might not seem like the most practical ideas, or the best uses of our time on this beloved American holiday, but in the age-old spirit of TV, anything—dangerous, idiotic, unrealistic, immoral—is better than boring. So, get onboard with this list of new traditions, courtesy of some of our favorite shows, and an you're guaranteed an interesting Thanksgiving.
Pop a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Some call it a wholesome, festive display of American pop culture on one of the country’s favorite holidays. Some find it a tacky, consumerist production that represents style over substance. And a third group find it to be the perfect opportunity for a tradition inspired by the great American sitcom Seinfeld: deflate one of the parade’s giant balloons—specifically (if possible), the Woody Woodpecker balloon. Granted, this was an accident that turned out to be regrettable for Jerry, Elaine, her boss and Tim. But it’d probably be pretty cathartic revenge for all those years of that excruciating laugh.
Slap Your Friends Vengefully
Fans of How I Met Your Mother should recognize this tradition immediately. Thanksgiving might very well be a celebration of gratitude and good spirits, but Marshall and Barney exemplify the great therapeutic power of imparting violence unto your closest friends. You might run into a family member who deems Thanksgiving a “slap-free zone,” as did Lily on this memorable episode. But even when it comes to respecting the wishes of loved ones, there are limits.
A Pie Fight is one suggestion most people should be willing to get behind. In fact, I find it hard to believe that anyone, when first spotting a picturesque, fluffy Thanksgiving pie, doesn’t at least harbor a marginal compulsion to throw it (preferably at the family member who has been talking way too much about his new promotion this year). Cheers instituted this tradition in its classic Thanksgiving episode, and it is one that is at once an inspiring emancipation from societal fences, and also really, idiotically fun. If there is one tradition you learn from this list, let it be this one.
Infiltrate a Murderer's Family Dinner (or Spy on Your Coworker’s Wife Getting a Little Too Close with the Neighbor)
If wacky comedic antics like balloon-popping, friend-slapping and pie-fighting aren’t your game, then how about a tense dramatic situation? Dexter has two options for you:
First, you might be in the business of investigating and then bringing to violent justice people whom you believe to be serial killers. If so, then head out on Thanksgiving Day and make as stop (unannounced) at the house of that delightful white-haired church deacon you met at Habitat for Humanity. Surely your presence won't spark any horrifying, traumatic family fights.
Here's a slightly less dangerous, but still pretty uncomfortable, option: you might find yourself invited to a coworker’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. If so, when you show up, you might be inclined to have a look around. Be forewarned: when Vince Masuka took it upon himself to enjoy an ad-hoc tour of the Morgan household during Dexter’s fourth season, he stumbled upon a scene of heightened familiarity between Rita and that far-too-friendly neighbor guy that Dex eventually threatened. It’ll definitely be an uncomfortable situation for you, but it’ll spice up a boring holiday for sure.
Yeah, this is a weird one…but it worked out for Zach Braff during the first season of Scrubs. The series proved that having to undergo an appendectomy can actually enlighten you with a new perspective on your job and your relationships; it may just alleviate some tensions between you and your best friend.
Celebrate with Disease, Ruined Friendships and Family Tragedies
If you want to really get dark this year, you can take a page from The Big C's book. The second season of Showtime’s often comedic drama ended up with a great deal of anger and misfortune for the Jamison household—Cathy’s friendship with fellow cancer patient Lee was strained when he found out she lied to him about her recovery. Paul decided to get in the crime game, stealing merchandise from his store’s storage room with Andrea’s new fiancée, who turns out just to be with her for a green card. Come to think of it, you might want to avoid this tradition.
Anything from Friends
In delving back into Thanksgivings of television past and present, I came to the surprising realization that many TV shows—especially those running today—opt not to have their characters celebrate the holiday at all. I was saddened to realize that we have never seen Liz Lemon openly express her gratitude for Cheezy Blasters over a Thanksgiving feast (comprised entirely thereof), nor have we gotten a glimpse of what the holiday is like in Pawnee, Indiana.
However, there is one show of the not-too-distant past that is an unabashed proponent of the Thanksgiving spirit: Friends. In its ten years on air, Friends gave us a surplus of memorable Thanksgivings, each with traditions to adapt for our own holiday celebrations. Taking a lesson from the series, there are many things we can do to spice up our Turkey Day:
Free the Underdog balloon, letting it run rampant through New York CityPlay a hypercompetitive game of football for the Geller cupInvite Brad Pitt over to degrade one of your closest friendsAbstain entirely from the holiday in defiance of childhood traumaTime-travel back to previous lives, when you spent Thanksgiving at warInadvertently injure your future fiancée with a knife after he calls you fatWear a Turkey on your head as a method of apologyAny of those will do.
So, as you can see, Thanksgiving is not quite as “traditional” on television as it is in our households. Maybe this is something for which we should aspire: more eventful, more chaotic, more memorable Thanksgivings filled with humor, scandal and injuries.
But then again, we don’t all get to just have things return to normal one week later. So saying thanks and eating quietly it is.
Today we've lost another Hollywood great. Actress Jane Russell, who was launched into Hollywood by none other than aviation legend Howard Hughes, passed away yesterday in Santa Maria, Calif. after respiratory failure. The Minnesota native was 89 years old.
Russell is probably know best for her role as Dorothy Shaw in the 1953 classic film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, alongside fellow beauty Marylin Monroe. Her iconic beauty and fantastic figure gained her attention from Hughes and audiences, but she made audiences laugh with films like Blondes and the follow-up Gentlemen Marry Brunettes and gained their respect in Paleface alongside Bob Hope. Still, her bust continued to be one of her claims to fame; Hughes designed a special bra for her "assets" and she was known as the face of Playtex Cross My Heart bras in the 1970s. She also took a few turns on the Broadway stage, at one point replacing legend Elaine Stritch in Company in 1971.
Outside of her film roles, Russell was very active in her church and spent a great deal of time helping many different charities, in fact she received the Women's International Center Living Legacy Award in 1989 to commemorate her commitment to helping others. She will be missed.
The 51-year-old star, known for his appearances on TV shows including Extras and Rab C Nesbitt, passed away on 28 October (10) after suffering a brain aneurysm.
He was laid to rest in a memorial service at St Aloysius' Church in his native Glasgow and devotees took to the streets to watch his funeral cortege pass through the city.
The funeral was attended by family, friends and former colleagues including Scottish actors Elaine C Smith and Tony Rope.
Hit mob series The Sopranos and TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee lead the 2007 Primetime Emmy Award nominations with 15 and 17 nods, respectively.
The Sopranos is nominated for Best Drama, while the show's star James Gandolfini has been praised in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his role as mafia boss Tony Soprano. Costar Edie Falco, who portrayed Carmela Soprano, is up for the Outstanding Lead Actress award, while Michael Imperioli, Aida Turturro and Lorraine Bracco have also received nods for their supporting roles.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee scooped nominations including Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for stars August Schellenberg (who plays Sitting Bull) and Aidan Quinn (Senator Dawes), while Anna Paquin (Elaine Goodale) is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
Meanwhile, actress Mary-Louise Parker scored two nominations for two different roles--Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (The Robber Bride) and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Weeds).
But the Primetime Emmy nominations--announced on Thursday--had a big shock in store for fans of Desperate Housewives, Lost and Kiefer Sutherland's 24--all three programs missed out on the Best Drama category. Instead, The Sopranos will battle it out against Heroes, Boston Legal and medical dramas House and Grey's Anatomy.
Elsewhere, hit comedy Ugly Betty was nominated in 11 categories, including Best Comedy Actress for star America Ferrera and Outstanding Comedy Series, where it will compete against Entourage, 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men and The Office.
The 59th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live from Los Angeles on Sept. 16.
The main category nominations are as follows:
Outstanding Comedy Series:
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty Outstanding Drama Series:
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Extras - Ricky Gervais
Monk - Tony Shalhoub
The Office - Steve Carell
30 Rock - Alec Baldwin
Two and a Half Men - Charlie Sheen
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Boston Legal - James Spader
House - Hugh Laurie
Rescue Me - Denis Leary
The Sopranos - James Gandolfini
24 - Kiefer Sutherland
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Desperate Housewives - Felicity Huffman
The New Adventures of Old Christine - Julia Louis-Dreyfus
30 Rock - Tina Fey
Ugly Betty - America Ferrera
Weeds - Mary-Louise Parker
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Brothers & Sisters - Sally Field
The Closer - Kyra Sedgwick
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Mariska Hargitay
Medium - Patricia Arquette
The Riches - Minnie Driver
The Sopranos - Edie Falco
Outstanding Reality Program:
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Outstanding Reality-Competition Program:
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Robert Duvall
Jesse Stone - Tom Selleck
Longford - Jim Broadbent
Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King - William H. Macy
The Ron Clark Story - Matthew Perry
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Life Support - Queen Latifah
Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre) - Helen Mirren
The Robber Bride - Mary-Louise Parker
The Starter Wife - Debra Messing
What If God Were the Sun - Gena Rowlands
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Entourage - Kevin Dillon
Entourage - Jeremy Piven
How I Met Your Mother - Neil Patrick Harris
The Office - Rainn Wilson
Two and a Half Men - Jon Cryer
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Boston Legal - William Shatner
Grey's Anatomy - T.R. Knight
Heroes - Masi Oka
Lost - Michael Emerson
Lost - Terry O'Quinn
The Sopranos - Michael Imperioli
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Thomas Haden Church
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - August Schellenberg
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Aidan Quinn
The Christmas Card - Edward Asner
The Starter Wife - Joe Mantegna
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
My Name Is Earl - Jaime Pressly
The Office - Jenna Fischer
Two and a Half Men - Holland Taylor
Two and a Half Men - Conchata Ferrell
Ugly Betty - Vanessa Williams
Weeds - Elizabeth Perkins
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Brothers & Sisters - Rachel Griffiths
Grey's Anatomy - Katherine Heigl
Grey's Anatomy - Chandra Wilson
Grey's Anatomy - Sandra Oh
The Sopranos - Aida Turturro
The Sopranos - Lorraine Bracco
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Greta Scacchi
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Anna Paquin
Longford - Samantha Morton
The Starter Wife - Judy Davis
Tsunami, the Aftermath - Toni Collette
Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program:
79th Annual Academy Awards - Ellen DeGeneres
The Colbert Report - Stephen Colbert
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman - David Letterman
Tony Bennett: An American Classic - Tony Bennett
Prime Suspect: The Final Act
The Starter Wife
Outstanding Made for Television Movie:
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Inside the Twin Towers
The Ron Clark Story
Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy
Outstanding Children's Program:
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Private Worlds: Kids and Autism
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
That's So Raven
When Parents Are Deployed
Click here to view the complete list of nominations.
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