TV Families Celebrate Thanksgiving

Whether you’re going to be slaving away over a hot stove and playing host to family and friends on Thanksgiving, or you’re slated to attend a dinner elsewhere, you’ll no doubt encounter a little bit of familial stress along the way.


Plus, even if you’ve done a ton of advanced planning to try to prevent it, inevitably something goes wrong. Maybe the oven goes kaflooey. Or someone gets sick. Or there’s a big fight. Or one of your kids will break something. It’s at that moment when that Norman Rockwell picture you’d been concocting in your head about what a “perfect” Thanksgiving you were going to have with your family, explodes into a million pieces.


If, by some miracle, your Thanksgiving winds up being drama-free, bully for you! But if you, like many of us, experience unwanted drama, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone, not by a long shot. So to get folks in the proper mood to celebrate their imperfect, American Thanksgivings, I’ve combed through recent and past TV shows for examples which demonstrate that, at least as far as TV writers are concerned, family dysfunction and mishaps are a given on Thanksgiving:


Parenthood: During its second season, this tightly knit, big family was planning to gather at the home of the heads of the Braverman clan: Zeek and Camille, who were feuding because Camille wanted to take an art class with a man with whom she previously had an affair. But if that’s too soap opera-ish for you, surely the fact that Camille is a control freak when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner in HER kitchen - she’s got an oven schedule, a strict list of dishes and an aversion to letting anyone other than her teen granddaughter help her - is something to which you can relate.


The eldest Braverman offspring, Adam, fresh from laying seven people off from the shoe company where he works, learned that the company’s owner Gordon just sold the company. Oh, and Gordon, who was dating Adam’s sister/employee Sarah, was coming to Thanksgiving. Sarah’s son Drew was missing his dad, Sarah’s alcoholic ex, and another Braverman, Julia, was struggling with the fine line between indulging her daughter and disciplining her, while family members clucked their tongues in judgment. Even a “just for fun” family football game after the rather clenched meal turned into a proxy battlefield for the grudge Adam had against Gordon and the one Crosby had against his brother-in-law Joel about an elementary school play.


The Middle: During last year’s Thanksgiving episode, this half-hour sitcom chose to focus on familial power struggles, the awkwardness of bringing family members together for a dinner where the participants aren’t quite comfortable with one another . . . not that any of you have had that experience before. Your families are all easygoing, right?