Blake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen ruling the Thanksgiving table on Gossip Girl

The Gossip Girl Thanksgiving Episodes, Ranked By Drama

Nobody does Thanksgiving like the Upper East Siders.

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Some shows are timeless and treat their episodes as such, with no correlation to real-time events to when they air. Others like to add a holiday episode every year, usually timed to Christmas, either to air on the holiday as a special (hello, Downton Abbey) or to cap off the first half of the TV season. But there are a few shows that are known for celebrating Thanksgiving. The original Gossip Girl, for example, went full turkey every year, with over-the-top results. These Gossip Girl Thanksgiving episodes are perfect to feast on when you really need to dig into the drama.

With the new Gossip Girl reboot heading back to HBO Max in November, the holiday season is already looking like drama is on the menu, at least for the students of Constance Billard St. Jude’s. But no matter how hard the new class of kids works, no one really feasts on Thanksgiving family attitudes like Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf. All six seasons of the original Gossip Girl aired an episode on Thanksgiving week back in the day, and all but one specifically focused on the holiday at hand.

So, how hard will the new show have to work to top its predecessor? Let’s run down all six OG Gossip Girl episodes that happened around the November holiday and see which are turkeys and which are stuffing.

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6. Season 5: “Rhodes to Perdition”

Season 5 is the only season Gossip Girl didn’t technically air a Thanksgiving episode, but the one that aired close to Thanksgiving of that year still revolves around food — Blair’s cake tasting, to be precise, as she plans what will become her eventual wedding to Louis. The episode is super romantic for the Blair and Chuck shippers: Chuck tells her he loves her, but he’s moved on from her because she asked him to. But in terms of Thanksgiving goodness, letting them eat cake simply doesn’t cut it.

5. Season 6: “It's Really Complicated”

The most meta of the Gossip Girl Thanksgiving episodes, this one might not rank for creative drama. Still, any episode that admits the show’s track record with Thanksgivings, doing one in the final season might be kind of risky scores significant points. Otherwise, this is mostly the callback Thanksgiving episode, with Blair trying (again) to go to Paris, Dan’s scathing chapter of Serena being published, and my favorite, Nate punching people.

4. Season 4: “Gaslit”

If Gossip Girl were Friends, this episode would be titled “The One Where Everyone Sympathizes With Serena.” The hour starts with Lily, Blair, and Dan ready to write Serena off until she turns up hospitalized. The assumption is that this was an attempt to take her own life, turning everyone into a guilt-ridden mess, but it wasn’t. It was instead a ridiculously complicated Gossip Girly plot by Jenny and Vanessa to exact revenge on Serena, which was then entirely ruined by Juliet, who took everything a step too far by drugging her. Thanksgiving is practically forgotten in the plot exposition to explain all this.

3. Season 1: “Blair Waldorf Must Pie!”

The episode that set the tone for all the Thanksgivings that followed, Season 1’s Thanksgiving episode also scores points for most clever title. It’s not so much a funny episode — the main plot is Blair’s father abandoning family tradition now that’s he’s left to live with his new partner and the emotional upheaval that results. But the Humphrey/van der Woodsen dinner is what takes the cake as Dan and Serena’s holiday is upended by discovering their parents used to sleep together and might still be into the idea of falling back into bed. Intergenerational drama is always served best with a slice of pie.

2. Season 2: “The Magnificent Archibalds”

Kristen Bell’s voiceover promises Gossip Girl’s second Thanksgiving outing will be a memorable one, as “on the Upper East Side, the holiday thankfully returns to its roots: lying, manipulation, and betrayal.” But parts of this episode are a bit of a misfire, demanding viewers care about Dan wrecking Serena’s relationship with Aaron (no one cared about Aaron) and spending too much time with Jenny Humphrey. But the true gem of this episode is the title fight of Wallace Shawn vs. Leighton Meester, as Blair finds herself having to contend with a whole host of new holiday traditions instituted by her new stepfather, Cyrus. Let the battle begin!

1. Season 3: “The Treasure Of Serena Madre”

The true meaning of the holiday is best found in the ultimate Gossip Girl Thanksgiving episode. Season 3’s turkey day feast is the one when Nate casually reveals at the beginning of dinner that Serena is sleeping with married congressman Tripp Vanderbilt (Aaron Tveit), which would be juicy even if he wasn’t telling the congressman’s own wife. If that weren’t enough, Blair then “accidentally” lets it slip to Jenny that Eric was the one who schemed to ruin her cotillion. Blair then doubles down with the drama by trying to get her mother to admit she’s pregnant. (Spoiler, Eleanor is not pregnant.) Soon, Eric is insulting the sweet potatoes, and suddenly it’s all over with abandoned chairs and angry feelings. Raise a glass with CeCe: To Thanksgiving drama, may it reign forever without end.

All seasons of the original Gossip Girl are streaming on HBO Max. The second half of Season 1 of the new series returns in November 2021.