I don’t want to get into an argument with the people at Merriam Webster, but when it comes to Friendsgiving — they’re wrong.
According to their website, the word Friendsgiving “first appeared around 2007 as an informal replacement for the holiday typically spent with family.” But they’re off by 13 years.
The first Friendsgiving was Nov. 17, 1994: “Friends” Season 1, Episode 9 — “The One Where Underdog Gets Away.” Sure, the definition of Friendsgiving is when you celebrate Thanksgiving with friends instead of family. But that’s exactly what Chandler (Matthew Perry), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross (David Schwimmer) did for nine out of 10 seasons. And they were, to no small degree, an inspiration for a generation … now generations.
And the show’s legions of fans have kept the episodes alive in the 15½ years since “The Last One” aired.
You can watch parades and football and dog shows and Christmas movies on Thanksgiving. Or you can watch Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends” on Netflix, on Blu-ray or DVD, or on cable TV. TBS (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Nickelodeon (9 p.m.-2 a.m.) each air the nine “Friends”-giving episodes on Thanksgiving, in chronological order.
(Both include the Season 2 episode “The One with the List” — which doesn’t have anything to do with Thanksgiving — second, apparently to fill out a five-hour block.)
You can even pay to go watch eight Friendsgiving episodes in theaters on Sunday (7 p.m.) and Monday (4 and 7 p.m.) — four each day at Century 16 (125 E. 3300 South), Megaplex at Valley Fair Mall (3620 S. 2400 West) and Regal Crossroads 14 (5516 S. Redwood Road). Which seems a little weird, but I guess you get to hang out with other “Friends” fanatics.
If the turkey makes you too sleepy to watch all of them, here are the nine “Friends”-giving episodes ranked from first to last:
1. “The One With All the Thanksgivings” (1998, Season 5) • The gang reminisces about their worst Thanksgivings ever, including the time Monica cut off Chandler’s toe and the time Joey and Monica both had their heads stuck in a turkey. There’s so much here and it’s so consistently funny.
2. “The One Where Underdog Got Away” (1994, Season 1) • The gang celebrates the holiday together for the first time; we find out Chandler hates Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving food; Joey finds out he’s on a venereal disease poster; the Underdog ballon escapes from the parade; and the gang gets locked on the roof when they go up to see it.
3. “The One Where Ross Gets High” (1999, Season 6) • Rachel makes the worst trifle ever (and Joey loves it); Ross has to admit to his parents that he smoked pot in college.
4. “The One With Chandler in a Box” (1997, Season 4) • Chandler does penance for kissing Joey’s girlfriend by spending hours in a big wooden box — and his running commentary is hilarious.
5. “The One With the Rumor” (2001, Season 8) • Turns out that Thanksgiving guest Will (Aniston’s then-husband, Brad Pitt) and Ross were members of the I Hate Rachel Green Club in high school — and they spread a nasty rumor about her.
6. “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs” (2000, Season 7) • Chandler hates dogs and Phoebe brings one to Thanksgiving; Ross won’t eat until he can name all 50 states. (Try it. It’s harder than you think.)
7. “The One With the Late Thanksgiving” (2003, Season 10) • Monica reluctantly agrees to host the annual Friendsgiving, and then everybody is late — so she and Chandler lock them out of the apartment.
8. “The One With the Football” (1996, Season 3) • Monica gets even more competitive than usual as the gang plays tag football.
9. “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister” (2002, Season 9) • Rachel’s awful sister, Amy (Christina Applegate) shows up uninvited and demands that she be named baby Emma’s guardian if anything happens to Ross and Rachel. Which leads to all sorts of unpleasantness.