Teen Drama Thanksgiving Episodes
Like Halloween and Election Day, Thanksgiving is another fall holiday that scored the teen drama treatment.
All six shows incorporated Thanksgiving episodes into its storylines, to varying degrees of success. Which plot points were for the better and which were for the worse? Gobble up the highlights below and you be the judge.
And since today is, in fact, Thanksgiving, let me express my gratitude to all of those joining me on this teen drama journey. Whether you’re an original TeenDramaWhore.com reader or just came onboard last month with the start of this newsletter, thank you for sharing in my fandom. I am also, of course, endlessly grateful for all those involved in the creation of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl,” and “90210.” You have truly changed my life.
Beverly Hills, 90210
Episode 3.15, “The Kindness of Strangers”
Months before this installment aired, “Beverly Hills, 90210” continued its tradition of summer episodes. By airing new shows while most series were on hiatus, the show was able to increase its ratings and set up storylines that would continue into the fall. One such summer episode introduced the character of Jack Canner, a homeless Gulf War veteran who rejects Brandon’s attempts to help him. Well, Jack returns in this holiday hour, accepting Brandon’s invitation to the Walsh family’s Thanksgiving meal. Patriarch Jim is… less than pleased. Meanwhile, Steve and Dylan have some parental drama of their own: Steve has to tell his mom he’s been kicked out of West Beverly and Dylan is dismayed his furloughed father is more interested in his girlfriend than any father-son bonding.
Episode 4.12, “Radar Love”
It’s another awkward Walsh family Thanksgiving, this time thanks to the lingering “Brenda and Dylan and Kelly Bermuda triangle.” Though Kelly and Dylan clash at Casa Walsh, I actually really enjoy how they both lay it all out on the table (somewhat literally, somewhat figuratively). Missing from the family festivities is Brandon, who has traveled to San Francisco in search of none other than ex-girlfriend Emily. This episode is also notable for kick-starting Andrea and Jesse’s romance… even though she has a boyfriend.
Episode 6.12, “Breast Side Up”
Turns out Donna isn’t the only one who has to share her birthday with a holiday! New boyfriend Joe’s special day coincides with Turkey Day and she pulls off a pretty incredible birthday present: a visit from NFL star Steve Young. And though Cindy and Jim are in Hong Kong, Thanksgiving is still set to take place at the Walsh house, where Valerie butts heads with David’s mom. Significant others Colin and Susan are out of town, though, making this episode a great gift for Brandon and Kelly fans.
Episode 7.11, “If I Had a Hammer”
The Thanksgiving principle of giving back is in play here, with the gang helping build a Habitat for Humanity home for Willie and ultimately eating their holiday meal in the unfinished house. Missing from the celebratory dinner is Kelly, who is on a trip that takes a rather gross turn with new boyfriend Mark. Tension between Steve and Brandon is high when they have to face the consequences of the former plagiarizing the latter’s paper. And there’s a strong emotional undercurrent with David being forced to deal with his mental illness. On the bright side, it all culminates in David and Donna officially getting back together!
Episode 9.08, “You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello”
Arguably the most significant “Beverly Hills, 90210” Thanksgiving episode of them all. Why? Four words: Valerie leaves, Dylan returns. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Val and Kelly plan dueling Thanksgiving dinners as their feud comes to a head, Donna’s cousin Gina is introduced to the gang, Noah continues drinking himself silly, Steve and Janet decide whether to be exclusive, and just as Kelly and Matt have their first kiss, who shows up at the Walsh house? None other than one Dylan McKay.
Episode 10.10, “What’s in a Name?”
This is certainly one of the more emotional Thanksgiving episodes, with Janet and newborn daughter Madeline both hospitalized and Donna making the stunning revelation that Gina isn’t actually her cousin… but her sister. When she confronts her parents about the deceit, Donna ends up walking out of Thanksgiving dinner. And after setting a new love triangle in motion at the end of last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, this one ups the tension between Matt and Dylan as the latter enlists Kelly’s help for a charitable turkey dinner.
Episode 3.08, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
This episode introduces Jen’s mom, who unexpectedly arrives in Capeside for the holiday and gets a talking-to from Dawson, who has discovered Eve’s secret relation to the Lindley family. Jen, thrown for a loop by her mother’s appearance, turns to Pacey — her new “friends with benefits” partner — for help blowing off steam (cough cough). Everyone ends up at Grams’ for Thanksgiving, which is particularly awkward for exes Pacey and Andie, while Gail and Mitch seem downright happy about their divorce. It all ends with a nice bonfire moment where the group celebrates their friendship.
Episode 1.11, “The Homecoming”
It’s time for Ryan’s first Thanksgiving with the Cohens, but his old life beckons when imprisoned brother Trey calls asking for a favor. That sends Ryan back to Chino and back to ex-girlfriend Theresa, making for a few awkward moments with Marissa, who tags along. Seth also has his hands full with two love interests, Anna and Summer, whom he hooks up with in separate rooms of the Cohen home. Tensions rise as Caleb and Julie crash the festivities, where Sandy and Kirsten are playing matchmaker with Jimmy and Rachel. Among the lessons learned: Kirsten really can’t cook.
Episode 4.03, “The Cold Turkey”
It’s another Thanksgiving where everyone ends up at the Cohens, natch, albeit a more emotional hour than season 1’s installment. The effects of Marissa’s death are still fresh, with Ryan determined to get his revenge on Volchok. Julie and Summer are both struggling with their grief as well, but there’s some comic relief with Taylor hiding from her mom and Seth bringing a few unexpected guests home for dinner. This scene between Ryan and Julie is one of my favorites.
One Tree Hill
Episode 8.09, “Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace”
Haley prepares a crazy amount of food for Thanksgiving in case unexpected guests show up and, whaddaya know, they do! Brooke, Julian, and his mom head to the Scott home after Brooke’s cooking doesn’t go quite as planned, and Mouth, Skills, and Millie arrive after their expected cooked-turkey delivery ends up being a very-much-alive turkey. Alex and Mia, at odds over Chase, are none too pleased to find the other at the Scott residence, and a fresh-out-of-prison Victoria adds to the holiday drama. This episode was directed by Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley).
Episode 1.09, “Blair Waldorf Must Pie!”
Dan invites Serena and her family to spend Thanksgiving with his, with both of them unaware of Rufus and Lily’s romantic past. Awkward! Blair is devastated when her dad doesn’t come home for the holiday, triggering her eating disorder. Nate is caught between his fighting parents and they end up spending the night in the hospital. Throughout the episode, there are flashbacks to Thanksgiving the year before. That’s probably my favorite aspect because I’m a sucker for flashbacks.
Episode 2.11, “The Magnificent Archibalds”
Blair, again sad that her father won’t be in town for Thanksgiving, is even more upset now that her mom’s boyfriend is changing their holiday traditions. Lily tries to mend fences between Rufus and Jenny, and Nate’s dad tries to convince him to move to the Dominica. Serena attempts to impress new beau Aaron by hiding her wild past, and Eric discovers Chuck’s dad is spying on them. There’s kind of a dark vibe to it all.
Episode 3.11, “The Treasure of Serena Madre”
There’s a big mother-daughter theme throughout this installment, with Blair suspecting her mom is keeping a secret from her, Lily actually keeping a secret about her mom from Rufus, and Vanessa fighting with her own mom. Meanwhile, Serena and Tripp try to hide their romance when he and wife Maureen end up spending the holiday with the van der Woodsens, but their affair isn’t quite under wraps.
Episode 4.10, “Gaslit”
It’s another Thanksgiving with family drama for Nate and it would likely be another Thanksgiving with drama at the van der Woodsens except before dinner can even be served, the clan rushes to visit a hospitalized Serena after an apparent overdose. Are Vanessa and Jenny and Juliet to blame? Yep, this hour follows the Halloween-esque “The Witches of Bushwick,” in which the trio tried to take S down for good. By episode’s end, Blair is set on getting revenge on behalf of her BFF.
Episode 6.08, “It’s Really Complicated”
Serena and Dan decide to host Thanksgiving together… and well, you know what they say about best laid plans. He’s annoyed when Serena invites her ex and his daughter, and when Blair brings Chuck, she’s upset to find Bart and Lily at the festivities after promising him they wouldn’t be there. There’s also the Georgina factor: She’s helping Dan with his book and the latest chapter is all about Serena — and not in a good way. Question: Would Blair dressing up as Pocahontas fly in 2020? I think not.
Episode 4.10, “Smoked Turkey”
Liam is determined to throw a happy Thanksgiving celebration since he never had one growing up, but he’s thrown for a loop when his estranged mom shows up. Dixon gets a holiday furlough from rehab, but most of the group is under the impression he’s on a break from a music tour. Ivy and Raj have a blowup over their Thanksgiving plans, but there’s a rather tragic secret behind the tension. The comic relief arguably comes from horny Naomi’s antics with Austin.
Which teen drama Thanksgiving episode is your favorite? Share in the comments!
Reminder: TeenDramaWhore is now offering premium subscriptions with perks like exclusive content, fan interviews, trivia nights, and Zoom chats with the genre’s key players. Find out more here!