As far as Thanksgiving special episodes go, there are many great moments in the canon: The Friends episode in which Rachel makes the beef trifle, the food fight at Carla’s house on Cheers, the hilarious WKRP in Cincinnati in which the station manager drops turkeys from a helicopter as a promotional ploy — with disastrous results (“The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Oh the humanity!”). And now, we can add to these the amazing moment of discomfort that occurs at the Humphrey–Van der Woodsen Thanksgiving as everyone at the table simultaneously realizes that they’re as incestuous as a family in a V.C. Andrews novel. To recap: Rufus and Lily used to do it; now Rufus’s son, Dan, is doing it with Lily’s daughter, Serena, and the pubescent sexual tension is just flying between Rufus’s daughter, Jenny, and Lily’s son, Eric. “Your roots are kind of Rufus-like,” Jenny says flirtatiously to Eric, later, while the two of them are sitting … on her bed. Who writes this show? Former members of the Children of God?
As Real As “Jews Having Chinese Food on Christmas Since Forever!”
• They’ve supposedly put Serena’s tryst with Nate behind them, but Blair’s occasional flare-ups of rage about how Serena slept with her boyfriend are totally realistic. We know this firsthand because junior year, we capriciously broke up with our high-school Adonis boyfriend to teach him a lesson about something or other, and he immediately proceeded to exercise his limitless teenage libido with not one, not two, but three of our best friends. Naturally, we made up with said friends soon after, but we never let them forget what bitches they were. Even now, every year or so we like to call them and shout “SLUT! SLUUUUT!” down the phone and hang up. Plus 10. Now you know why we think we’re so qualified to write this thing.
• The omniscient Gossip Girl herself announces that she’s taking Thanksgiving off at the start of the episode (apparently this week we’re trading her in for her gawky best friend, Sepia Flashback). “I’m trading my laptop for Stovetop,” she says. “As per Gossip Girl tradition.” Wait a second. Stove Top? Of course! Gossip Girl herself isn’t a snooty Upper East Sider at all! She’s actually some random chick living in the suburbs of Illinois. This is so real we think we’ve heard this story before. Plus 8
• Okay, so Blair is bulimic. Plus only 3, because even though it’s totally accurate, it doesn’t bode well that the writers went to the eating-disorder place so early in the show’s story arc. The “Rogue Outsider Joining the Gang and Turning Everything Upside Down” story line can’t be far behind. That said, they get an extra Plus 2 for taking a page from the 90210 playbook and weirdly not actually showing any barfing, and for that bizarre high-school artsy shot of Blair kneeling on the floor, taken from outside the bathroom stall. Also, Plus 1 for when post-barfing Blair looks extremely nervous when Serena’s mother orders fries at the diner. “I’d better go,” she yelps. That’s right, B, stay away from groups where disordered eating is the norm. You’re on the road to recovery!
• When Dan comes to pick up Serena, he notices the book Lily is reading. “Nicholas Sparks,” he scoffs with just the right amount of amused derision. Has he ever been more Williamsburg? Plus 4
• Despite everything, the whole Gossip Girl posse is weirdly happy in this episode. Blair gives us a hint why: “I’m in a good mood. It happens,” she says. “Sometimes because I increase my Lexapro, sometimes because my dad’s in town.” We want to give them one billion points for that, but Wellbutrin would make more sense if she’s worried about her weight. So just Plus 5.
• “You know what’s really weird,” Blair observes while in Dan’s apartment in Brooklyn, “is that there’s a garage door in your room.” THANK YOU, BLAIR. Plus 2
• Nate’s mother is wearing a nun’s outfit, and she’s all salty about being asked to step down from the committee for the Snowflake Ball and the Lincoln Center Foundation. The Snowflake Ball just happened so their timing is right, if not their outfit choices. Plus 1.
• How funny is it that the first time we see Blair’s future gay dad, he’s wearing a cheesy Banana Republic half Argyle sweater. Plus 1. That’s almost as funny as the fact that Vanessa owns a van.
As Fake As Engaging in Physical Activity Just After Thanksgiving Dinner
• Allison sucks. Period. Minus 5, for pissing us off, for having terrible lighting (literally, every time the camera pans to her she’s like the “Two Face” that Seinfeld dates, who is pretty or not depending on where she stands), and for getting away with, oh, we don’t know, being an adulteress and still getting mad at Rufus for being friends with Lily.
• At Thanksgiving at the Humphreys, Lily keeps the wine to herself. Minus 2, because duh, even the kids would have been chugging in that situation. And Minus another 2 because we just know this is a setup for a situation like on The O.C. when the writers randomly decided in Season Two that Kristen Cohen had a drinking problem even though SHE IS PERFECT, like Lily.
• The opening scene shows Serena all wasted, swanning around what looks to be Nolita or the Lower East Side. Why is she downtown? Why is Dan? “Who gets drunk on Thanksgiving?” asks Blair, forgetting that duh, everyone gets drunk on Thanksgiving. Minus 4., because we know we’re being set up to learn that Serena has a drinking problem (it must be hereditary!). Also, because Blake Lively does the worst fake drunk we’ve seen since a party we went to in ninth grade, when a girl in our class pretended to be wasted so that she would have an excuse for taking her top off. (And no, that girl wasn’t us. (Okay, maybe it was.))
• For the love of God, Brooklyn is not that hard to figure out. Minus 2 because, if we’re still maintaining the charade that the Humphreys live in Williamsburg, why do they keep showing the Brooklyn Bridge, why do they play football in Brooklyn Bridge Park (and why is it so weirdly empty?), and why do Dan and Allison stroll on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade? (We’ll be willing to re-award these points if the writers finally admit the Humphreys live in Dumbo.)
• Nate’s weird, highlighted Zac Efron hairstyle is the same in all the flashbacks, even though we know that he had normal, not Aqua Netted hair at the beginning of the school year. Minus 1.
• After Thanksgiving at the Humphreys is interrupted by parental-sexual revelations, Dan and his mom take a stroll, and she tells him what it was like back in the day, when Rufus was in his band and she wore “steel-toed boots.” We were going to let this go. Okay, so maybe they were really early punks, we thought? But then! Later on Lily drops that she once spent “nine hours on the Ohio turnpike with Jane’s Addiction.” Jane’s Addiction? Are we seriously supposed to believe that the Gossip adults came of age during grunge? Unless both of these ladies got knocked up within days of Nirvana releasing Never mind back in September of 1991, it doesn’t really seem possible that they would have grown up, gotten married — in Lily’s case more than once — and birthed and raised teenage children in that time span. Also: We’re not that old, okay??? Minus 10 for pandering to and then pissing off the Generation X demographic; But wait! What if they did both get pregnant back in 1991, and Rufus is the father of both children? That would make Serena and Dan brother and sister! That would be genius. Plus 5 for the possibility.
So, in the end, this episode was sixteen points on the reality side. Which is good, because we really enjoyed it. Sure, Vanessa and Chuck may not have made appearances, and yeah, everyone was all over the city in weird, nonsensical ways, but we were reminded that there are happy times on the Upper East Side. Plus, this marked Blair’s triumphant ascendance as the true heart-and-soul of the show, over Serena, which is what we’ve been hoping from the minute she flounced, Empire waist and all, onto the screen.