Best and Worst Sitcom Families to Share Thanksgiving Dinner With
Blog post for my personal site/zine hybrid Big Sassy Piece
Oh my glob. It’s that time of year again. Getting all gathered around a table, eating some overly rich food, busting out the hand turkeys, pretending not to be offended by relatives’ views that are provincial at best and inflammatory at worst. Woohoo. Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have, one might say, a completely spotless cultural connotation. What do we have on our plate here? Well for one, a heaping helping of indigenous appropriation and oppression and a big old dollop of nationalist propaganda. Then there’s the enforced family time. Seeeeriously, does Aunt Becky really need to grill you for the tenth time about when you and your co-habitating partner are finally going to “make it official?” And WTF is with your cousin’s little kid who erupts in tears when he can’t have the stuffing because it isn’t “GMO and gluten free.” But hey, who doesn’t want to get on board with feasting, friends, family, gratitude and, hell yeah, a day off work.
For me, Thanksgiving is not exactly my favorite. First, I was a picky eater as a kid. Then, in high school, I became a vegetarian which is just a politically loaded version of a picky eater to a lot of people. And then there’s the fact that I just generally don’t get into traditional Thanksgiving foods. I’d rather pass on gut bombs like rich as hell gravies, loaves, casseroles and what have you. Last year I made enchiladas. I’d really be totally fine just eating some Thai takeout or pizza but ritual and tradition and togetherness and all that. Sigh.
But yeah, I’m usually unable to have a “true” Thanksgiving with my official family. There’s massive distance from Oregon to Michigan, expensive plane tickets, (plus I really don’t want to deal with that airport hell), and my retail work schedule. So I usually do a Friendsgiving sort of thing. Thanksgiving is about family and laying around so, naturally, I got to thinking about who’d be the best sitcom squad to kick it with on gobble gobble day. And the worst.
BEST TV FAMS TO GET DOWN ON SOME PIE WITH
I always felt weird at Thanksgiving for one reason or another. It’d be nice to be surrounded by fellow freaks on this holiday. Admittedly, most of my nostalgia for the Addams Family comes from the early ‘90s film iterations starring Christina Ricci as a badass, wiley Wednesday. Her monologue in Addams Family Values during the “Pilgrims and Indians” play at summer camp is probably the single best cultural reference to the entire Thanksgiving holiday.
The Addams’ (Addamses? Addamsesessss?) are just generally a cool pop culture family. There are a lot of big personalities in that brood but they all kind of get along and don’t ride one another’s asses too much. Gomez and Morticia would probably be too busy making out to notice you didn’t polish off your serving of ghoul gruel or whatevs. Wednesday and Pugsley would be erecting some sort of Mousetrap-style simple machine rig to catapult the turkey out into the graveyard. Fester would probably be sticking turkey legs in his nose. Lurch would be rocking a bowl cut and growning. Sounds pretty great to me.
I Love Lucy Crew
Lucy was funny, weird and off-the-wall before there were many women doing the whole quirky thing. The title of her show is awesome and acknowledges that despite this woman’s bonkers personality, she’s very cared about, flaws and all. I can get down with that sentiment.
And, hey, is she really going to scrutinize what I put in my green bean casserole when she’s too busy hiding burnt pies in the closet? Or shoving local food reviewers out the door before Ricky comes home because she thought she’d start up a trendy pop-up Thanksgiving dinner party? Oh, Lucy. You and your schemes.
The meal would likely end up happening around 9 p.m. after many rounds of acceptable hour ‘50s cocktails with Chinese takeout or Ricky making awesome Cuban sandwiches with tostones. Or maybe we’d all go to a pizza parlor and end up lobbing breadsticks at one another. Whichever way, not bad.
Family Matters Bunch
Dear God, do I love Family Matters. It’s a Chicago-based sitcom about an African-American family with an interloping nerdy neighbor. I mean, come on. I’ll forgive Carl the fact that he’s a cop because his freak outs are so epic and awesome. And his character is so universally, classically dad that I once compared him to my own very dadly father.
Laura’s sass alone is cause for celebration. I’d love to see how she’d react when Urkel walked through the door with some kind of bizarre heart-shaped gourd centerpiece during T-giving dinner. Or maybe Stefan would show up in all his smooth operator glory. I also always thought the grandma, “mother” or Estelle, was pretty rad. I think she’d be a great cook but she’d probably not be down with my attitude about turkey. I’d probably have to choke some down to oblige her. I also totally dig her whole Ruth Bader Ginsberg-esque style. She’s also a badass civil rights activist.
GOOD GOD, THE MEAL WOULD BE INSUFFERABLE WITH THESE FICTIONAL TV CHARACTERS
Ughhhhh, please. Frasier is so boring and hackneyed. I used to go hang out in the break room while my mom worked as a nurse at a doctor’s office and this shit was always on. None of the characters are likable, occasionally save the father character and his curmudgeonly ways.
I’m not against intellectuals or anything but Frasier, Niles and the whole bunch just aren’t funny. They’re just so bougie it makes my skin crawl. I am not interested in eating their hypothetical fanciful Thanksgiving hors douerves while their dad complains about Frasier’s new girlfriend’s Jewishness or whatever. Nor do I want to deal with Frasier’s pretentious, red-faced tirades over, what, like what serving dish to use? And I really don’t give a fig about hand towels. Plus there are some annoying, problematic jokes. Pass.
I might be one of the only people that truly does not like Seinfeld. I just don’t find it humorous. Neurotic, self-involved New Yorkers and all their hyper self-aware quirks. I’m sure every single one of the characters from Jerry to Kramer to Elaine would have some kind of issues with the food. “What is this cranberry sauce, man, I mean come on? Is it more sauce or cranberry? Is it a condiment? I mean, come on!”
Having a meal with these people would be like rounding up the most miserable, annoying aunt or cousin or step-in law from every family and deciding to break bread. Just, no. And that theme song has to go. It sounds like a stand-up bass got electrocuted and spliced with a Casio keyboard and sapped of all its soul force. Also, the show’s attempts at “multicultural” plots or whatever are really pitiful. You don’t get much whiter than Seinfeld. And you shouldn’t make racist jokes regardless of who’s in the room, idiot. It’s not funny.
Everybody (Hates) Raymond (‘s Family)
Talk about the epitome of a show that you’re forced to watch while in a waiting room or at your aunt’s house while your uncle falls asleep or trapped next to a snoring businessman on a cross-country, red-eye flight. Yes, yes, we get it, Raymond has a shrieking, nagging yet attractive wife, Debra. Oh, poor Raymond can’t do anything right with this broad Deb on his hands. I bet she’ll burn the green bean casserole, then have a breakdown, then Raymond will have to talk her down.
The old dad Frank’s entire schtick is that he’s an inconsiderate, annoying misogynist and his wife is a babbling buffoon. I don’t even have to imagine how awful Thanksgiving would be with this bunch because there’s an entire scene to prove it. See, Raymond’s bitchy, horrible wife ruins Thanksgiving by forcing them to eat a, gasp, tofu turkey. What horrifying punishment to mete out, that insufferable wench.
What do y’all think would make the best or worst Thanksgiving dinner sitcom family? #sitcomthanksgivingfam