Nobody does Thanksgiving like the Upper East Siders.
When TV shows celebrate the holidays, they usually do so with episodes tied to Christmas or Hanukkah. Only a few shows are known for celebrating Thanksgiving, but when they do, they do it well. The original Gossip Girl, for example, went full turkey every year, with over-the-top results — and HBO Max’s spinoff is set to follow that tradition. But which are the best? Let’s find out in this ranking of Gossip Girl Thanksgiving episodes.
Much like Friends and New Girl, the original Gossip Girl became known for its Thanksgiving episodes. When fall rolled around, fans could always count on the Upper East Siders to serve up a heaping helping of drama. Secret relationships, family feuds — everything was on the table. It quickly became common TV knowledge that no one could serve up Turkey Day ‘tude like Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf.
When HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot hit the scene, all eyes were on its Thanksgiving episode to see if the new installment would carry on tradition. Luckily, the show delivered. And with Season 2 on the horizon, fans will have to wait and see if the reboot will return with seconds.
So, let’s run down all six OG Gossip Girl episodes, and the one new Thanksgiving reboot addition, to see which are turkeys and which are stuffing.
7. OG GG 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 royal 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.
6. OG GG Season 6: “It’s Really Complicated”
The most meta of the Gossip Girl Thanksgiving episodes, this one might not rank for creative drama. But it gets points for acknowledging its own track record with Thanksgivings. Otherwise, this is mostly a 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.
5. OG GG 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 they discover she was actually 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.
4. Reboot Season 1: “Once Upon a Time in the Upper West”
For its first Thanksgiving outing, the Gossip Girl reboot manages to land right in the middle of the pack. The series does a decent job bringing back all those Thanksgiving feels. It also has loads of drama. Aki, Audrey, and Max fretabout their impending throupledom, Zoya finds out about Obie and Julien going behind her back, while Davis and Lola get engaged. Keep up the good work, kids.
3. OG GG 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. OG GG 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 versus 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 games begin!
1. OG GG 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. 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 and Season 1 of the rebooted series are streaming on HBO Max. Season 2 debuts on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.
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