We’re counting down the days to Thanksgiving by looking at a variety of Thanksgiving-themed TV episodes. Thanksgiving episodes are all different, but they have lots of tropes in common. Today we’re kicking things off with the How I Met Your Mother episode “Slapsgiving.”
Directed by: Pamela Fryman
Written by: Matt Kuhn
Episode Number: Season 3, Episode 9
Where to Watch It: Netflix
Of all the Thanksgiving-related TV tropes, found family is the most common and most essential to the spirit of the holiday. “Slapsgiving” is a perfect example.
The core friend group is spending their first Thanksgiving together. Robin and Ted worry it will end up being their last because of the awkwardness of being exes. But, when the two reflexively bond over a silly in-joke, they realize that their friendship will survive this stumbling block.
Meanwhile, Marshall gleefully celebrates “slapsgiving,” because he’s going to slap Barney on this day. He taunts his friend throughout the episode, like when he makes a string of handprint turkeys. He says, “They’re turkeys, but they’re also hands. Because later we’re gonna eat turkey and then I’m gonna slap you in your face.”
Lily gets angry at Marshall for ruining their first Thanksgiving together with fighting and forbids him from slapping Barney. But, when Barney goes overboard taunting Marshall for not being able to slap him, Lily lifts the ban. Marshall slaps Barney and then sings a special song he composed for the occasion. Watching the friend group gather around and listen to Marshall’s sadistic song is surprisingly heartwarming.
Many Thanksgiving episodes have one person who has the thankless job of making a beautiful meal that nobody really appreciates. In this episode, it’s Lily. She puts together the entire turkey dinner. Robin and Ted also contribute by baking pies.
This is the rare Thanksgiving episode with no references to watching the big game. Way to fumble it, guys.
This episode doesn’t get into the history of American Thanksgiving, but Robin does tell the group about Canadian Thanksgiving. She explains that it’s about celebrating Martin Frobisher’s unsuccessful attempt to find the Northwest passage.