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 looking at the Malcolm in the Middle episode “Thanksgiving.”
Directed by: David D’Ovidio
Written by: Matthew Carlson
Episode Number: Season 5, Episode 4
Where to Watch It: Netflix
If anything, this episode does the inverse of the found family trope. Malcolm goes off to spend Thanksgiving at a party with his friends. As he’s leaving, his mom can’t believe he’d go away from the family on Thanksgiving. She says, “We’re not a bunch of friends you just met last week, we’re only the people who have sacrificed our lives for years so that you could have a home.” When the party ends up being a disappointing mess, he comes home, totally drunk. He talks things out with his older brother Francis.
Meanwhile, Francis and his wife Piama are fighting. Lois’s attempts to help them just make things worse, but when she’s willing to play the role of the bad guy in the family, it brings them together against her.
Reese makes an elaborate meal that even involves putting the turkey inside a giant fish for taste and sending Dewey out to manipulate store clerks into getting him truffles that the family can’t afford. He’s obsessed with his mission to create an amazing dinner, saying, “Don’t think of this as a meal. This is like eating the Mona Lisa.”
His tyrannical control makes Hal and Dewey get mad at him, but the resulting meal is so beautiful that the family momentarily stops fighting and falls silent to admire it.
Then Malcolm comes home and throws up all over the food.
No football in this episode.
This episode doesn’t bring up the history behind Thanksgiving at all.