The Worst Thanksgiving Dinners in Pop Culture



Every beloved holiday has its respective figure of staunch opposition. Christmas has the Grinch. Valentine’s Day has Liz Lemon. Halloween has that parent who always makes a scene at the PTA meetings. And Thanksgiving has the collective forces of Hollywood.

While you might scoff at the accusation between bites of tofurkey and spoonfuls of mashed fauxtatoes (what, did you guys not grow up in an orthodox vegan household?), think about every Thanksgiving-themed movie or television show you’ve ever seen. Think about the coming together of the families, the preparation of the meals, the sacrosanct tradition of reciting psalms the Book of Pilgrim (seriously? not that either? what kind of heathens raised you?) — no matter what the course of action depicted in a Thanksgiving film or TV episode, it indubitably goes awry. No onscreen Turkey Day has ever amounted to the pleasant celebration of gratitude it’s “supposed” to be.

It’s hard to say why, exactly, this phenomenon has come into play — we understand perfectly the rationale behind the respected hatreds of the abovementioned holidays (anti-materialism; the subjugation of women; fun is evil), but why Thanksgiving? Why has Hollywood taken such a consistently harsh jab at the November commemoration?

One way to get to the bottom of this is simply by sorting through historical examples of the big and small screens’ castigation of Thanksgiving glory — to look at the very worst Thanksgivings in pop culture history. And since you’re probably tuckered out from the annual holiday practice of reenacting the first Wampanoag-Presbyterian wedding (you’ve got to be kidding me — what do you guys do?!), we’ve done the hard part for you. So there they are — the worst pop culture Thanksgivings, and the lessons they have each taught us about why this is truly the worst holiday to grace our planet of Glorpax… reading all this over, I think I might be in a cult.

Hannah and Her Sisters

The dreaded coming together of families… almost as horrifying as the tearing apart of families. Both are adequately chronicled in Woody Allen’s 1986 drama Hannah and Her Sisters, which kicks off at a Thanksgiving dinner that incites the destruction of the title character’s marriage.

Why this Thanksgiving is horrible: To be betrayed by Michael Caine… is there no fate crueler?


Each one of them alone on Thanksgiving, the cast of Cheers gathers for a resentful, underwhelming holiday meal in this Season 5 episode, “Thanksgiving Orphans.”

Why this Thanksgiving is horrible: Sometimes, being lonely with other lonely people is even worse than being lonely by yourself.

Son In Law

There’s always a bit of anxiety to be expected when a newcomer interlopes your Thanksgiving tradition. Son In Law’s newcomer is Pauly Shore, which replaces anxiety with all-out homicidal compulsions.

Why this Thanksgiving is horrible: Pauly Shore, people. Pauly Shore.


Even when your Thanksgiving interloper isn’t Pauly Shore, he or she can muster some decadent results. When Dexter Morgan invites himself to the holiday feast of his hotly pursued Trinity Killer (John Lithgow) in this memorable Season 4 episode, family tensions are brought to a boiling point.

Why this Thanksgiving is horrible: We all have unpleasant family secrets that will indelibly come to the surface at dinners like these. You know, like your dad being a serial killer.

The Family Stone

The only thing worse than your own family is somebody else’s. This 2005 dramedy amps up the anxiety when Sarah Jessica Parker and Claire Danes play a pair of sisters welcomed into the unfamiliar home of the titular clan, a breed unlike that to which they are so rigidly accustomed.

Why this Thanksgiving is horrible: Other people are different, and that’s weird.

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving

It’s probably a good thing that Eli Roth’s trailer for the slasher film Thanksgiving never actually amounted to a full movie. Hollywood has infused the holiday with enough rage without going full-on axe-crazy.

Why this Thanksgiving is horrible: That ghastly parade that blocks up traffic all day. Also, the murders.

So as you can see, Hollywood clearly has a vendetta against Thanksgiving. Family unions, relationships, newcomers, secrets all get some pretty rough treatment. So who is it, then, at the top of the showbiz pyramid that is controlling this output of negative Thanksgiving material? What sort of Chandler Bing-like trauma occurred in this person’s life to sway him or her against the holiday forever, and thus forth inject such a horrible connotation into the minds of the viewing public? Whoever it is, this person has clearly been working tirelessly for the past few decades. But fear not — there’s no amount of Thanksgiving malice that can rob the world from the so-close-you-can-taste-it Christmas glory. Those movies are all magic, so get all the hate out of your system this weekend, people. The joy approacheth.

[Photo Credit: Fox Pictures]


We Rank The Best ‘Friends’ Thanksgiving Episodes

The Best and Worst of the 86th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: 6 Most Overtly Promotional Balloons, Floats

You Might Also Like: Jennifer Lawrence bikini

Jennifer Lawrence Bikinis in Hawaii (PICS)