The ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Thanksgiving Episode Is The Best Thanksgiving TV Episode of All Time
It’s a time-honored tradition for many TV shows to have holiday-themed episodes. Maybe not every year, but long-running series often have a Halloween or Christmas episode or two. Thanksgiving episodes are also ones fans look forward to, and will often watch every year to get into the pie-eating spirit. While fans praise Friends and Cheers for their Turkey Day episodes, Buffy The Vampire Slayer has the best, most original Thanksgiving episodes. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out, and here’s why.
Buffy is the host and determined to put on a good meal
Buffy Summers is known for many things: slaying demons, rocking a mean ‘90s outfit, and delivering witty remarks while fighting. But what she’s not so good at — and doesn’t have as much practice in — is cooking big feasts. In “Pangs,” the eighth episode in Season 4, Buffy’s mother, Joyce, isn’t going to be in town for Thanksgiving. So Buffy is determined to cook a grand meal, get all her friends together, and be the hostess with the most…est.
Like most things in Sunnydale, Buffy’s preparation doesn’t go well. She’s frantic and short-tempered when the meal seems to be coming apart. But! Being the slayer she is, she’ll be damned if she can’t make good peas or a casserole. Like in real life, tons of stress goes into creating Thanksgiving, so this episode delivers on that.
An epic battle in front of the dinner table that doesn’t involve religion or politics
After their college disrupts a Chumash building, it was built on top of because Xander falls into it while doing construction on the area, the Native American spirits seek revenge. When the battle between Buffy and one of the spirits happens, it’s appropriately in front of the dinner table.
You’re not supposed to bring up religion or politics each year, but there’s always that one person who does. So this battle is a more lively substitute for that scenario than what most TV shows have.
It highlights the culturally insensitive issues with the holiday
On the topic of the Chumash tribe, they’re a central part of the episode for a reason. They, of course, are seeking revenge for the genocide colonialists committed against them. But they’re also angry for the disruption of their land and artifacts. Willow points this out along with the problem surrounding the whole holiday.
Most teachings about the first Thanksgiving, pilgrims, and Native Americans are false, and the episode highlights this through Willow’s arguments. Unfortunately, this is also highlighted by Giles and Spike’s insensitive remarks, as well.
Giles calls them “Indians” and dismisses their pain. Yes, they’re seeking revenge and shouldn’t be allowed to kill people currently, but the way Giles went about it was insensitive. Plus, Spike brushes off colonialism and genocide like it’s nothing. The episode does more for this conversation in regards to Thanksgiving than other shows, so that’s a plus.
There’s family drama at the dinner table
To top it off, it’s not just a physical brawl that is a parallel to real life. There’s also family drama at the table too. The whole episode, Angel was sulking around in the shadows, a mini crossover from his show Angel. He was helping with the Chumash and interacted with each member of the Scooby Gang except Buffy. He did this on purpose, of course, so that he didn’t interfere with her life since they had a pretty rough break up.
Xander points out that their holiday was a bit more physically violent than other families,’ but the main traditions were all still there. Willow notes that it was just like old times, and the Xander blurts out, “Yeah, especially with Angel being here and everything.” You could feel Buffy’s stare through the screen.
Lastly, the episode should be at the top of your Thanksgiving list for one reason alone: “It’s a yam sham.” As perfect as mashed potatoes and gravy.