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What to Watch on Thanksgiving: Best Movies and Shows

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The hungriest holiday of the season is here. After you’re finished with football and are on to the leftovers stage, you’re going to need something entertaining to pass the time with your next three auxiliary meals. Is there a better moment than right now to start catching up on all the great shows and movies you’ve been waiting to watch from last month—or year? Here are some new, some old, some Turkey Day-centric, and some true classics to dig into over the weekend if you’re unsure what to watch on Thanksgiving.

What to Watch on Thanksgiving 2022: Best Movies and Shows to Stream

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

What is Thanksgiving without an absolute holiday classic? First aired in 1973, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has become a staple along with your turkey and stuffing, with the animated classic following Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Linus, Snoopy, and the crew as they play football and hold their own holiday meal. While the special usually aired on ABC most years, it’s now exclusive to Apple TV+ alongside other Peanuts content. Apple TV+

Yellowstone

Jump into the adventures of the Dutton clan with new Season 5 episodes, or spend the weekend catching up on anything between Seasons 1 and 4 you may have missed. There are three episodes available for the latest season, which will be the longest of the show yet with 14 episodes, up from the usual 10. The new season starts with John Dutton (Kevin Costner) being sworn in as the Governor of Montana, which certainly will ratchet up the drama on the show. Season 5: Paramount Plus. Seasons 1-4: Peacock

Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin

Adventurer Jimmy Chin shares stories and takes you to incredible locations around the world, including the mountains of Alaska and the rivers of Africa. Each of the 10 episodes finds Chin speaking with adventurers about some of their most incredible and harrowing moments, including climbers Alex Honnold, Conrad Anker, and Will Gadd, and surfer Justine Dupont, among others. Disney Plus—National Geographic Section

Fighter pilot walking on tarmac
Courtesy of Skydance

Top Gun Maverick

If you somehow haven’t seen Top Gun Maverick yet, gather your family and get it done this holiday weekend. It’s the most thrilling movie of the year and one of the best sequels you’ll ever see. Tom Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell 30 years after the original film, brought back to the fighter pilot academy he graduated from to teach a group of new pilots all he knows so they can complete a top secret mission. One of those students just happens to be his former wingman’s son, Rooster (Miles Teller). Try and watch it on the biggest screen you can find. Available to Rent/Buy on all major platforms—Apple, Amazon, Google

Andor

It’s one of the best shows of the year and it just happens to take place in the Star Wars universe. Season 1 of Andor will be fully available over the holiday weekend, with the finale premiering on Thanksgiving eve. Over 12 episodes, the series has shown the origins of rebel spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who made his debut in the film Rogue One in 2016. Creator Tony Gilroy, who wrote the bulk of Rogue One and was the writer-director behind George Clooney’s great Michael Clayton, has brought gritty realism to the Star Wars universe to make one of the most thrilling shows of the year.
Disney Plus

Abbott Elementary

After premiering last year, the network comedy has won multiple awards and emerged as one of the funniest shows on TV. Centered around the titular school in Philadelphia and the teachers and staff that work to make it run, Abbott Elementary recently took home the Outstanding Comedy Series award at the Emmys this summer. The mockumentary style of the show gives creator and star Quinta Brunson the chance to add an extra layer of humor, while the supporting cast is one of the funniest on TV. Hulu

The Expendables series

With a fourth movie now officially on the way, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to refresh your memory of the missions Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) has taken over the years. The three films each have incredible action sequences and are a great throwback to the ‘90s flicks that Stallone made famous earlier in his career. The fourth movie is set for release in 2023 and will bring back Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Stallone from these films. Amazon Prime

The White Lotus cover art
Courtesy of Warner Media

The White Lotus

The HBO series was one of the surprise hits of 2021, winning a number of Emmy Awards in what was supposed to be a limited series. But after the great success of Mike White’s focus on the hotel guests and staff of the titular hotel in Hawaii, HBO brought him back for another go around. The setting of Season 2 is Italy and has a mostly new cast, with Jennifer Coolidge’s character returning. The first season focused on the clashes of class and culture among the hotel guests, while the new season introduces some new drama, including three generations of one family (Michael Imperioli, F. Murray Abraham, and Adam DiMarco) looking to find common ground. The show is both funny and dramatic and is a perfect binge for the holiday weekend. HBO Max

The Watcher

If you and your family are into binge-worthy crime shows, this one’s tailored for you. Based on a wild true story, the show follows a married couple (Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts) who move into a new house in New Jersey, only to find that they’re being stalked by the titular “Watcher.” With seven episodes it’s not a major commitment and worth watching now, as the show was picked up for a second season already. Netflix

Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, Modern Family, and Seinfeld

No one does Thanksgiving like sitcoms. Friends probably is the most well-known for its Thanksgiving episodes, as it churned one out for every season. Those episodes involved so many memorable moments, including a touch football game, Monica (Courtney Cox) putting a turkey on her head, and guest stars like Brad Pitt. Seinfeld doesn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving episode, but one very funny one that is set around the holiday is “The Mom & Pop Store,” which finds a major plot thread surrounding Tim Whatley’s (Bryan Cranston) Thanksgiving party, which will overlook the balloons for the Macy’s parade. Modern Family picked up where Friends left off, doing multiple holiday-themed episodes over the years. Take your pick. They’re all hilarious.

Seinfeld: Netflix
Season 6, Episode 8: “The Mom & Pop Store”

Modern Family: Hulu
Season 3, Episode 9: “Punkin Chunkin”
Season 6, Episode 8: “Three Turkeys”
Season 7, Episode 7: “Phil’s Sexy, Sexy House”
Season 8, Episode 7: “Thanksgiving Jamboree”
Season 9, Episode 7: “Winner Winner Turkey Dinner”
Season 10, Episode 7: “Did the Chicken Cross the Road?”
Season 11, Episode 7: “The Last Thanksgiving—Modern Family”

Friends: HBO Max
Season 1, Episode 9: “The One Where Underdog Gets Away”
Season 2, Episode 8: “The One with the List”
Season 3, Episode 9: “The One with the Football”
Season 4, Episode 8: “The One with Chandler in a Box”
Season 5, Episode 8: “The One with All the Thanksgivings”
Season 6, Episode 9: “The One Where Ross Got High”
Season 7, Episode 8: “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”
Season 8, Episode 9: “The One with the Rumor”
Season 9, Episode 8: “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister”
Season 10, Episode 8: “The One with the Late Thanksgiving”

House of the Dragon

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you may have seen the prequel series already, but with so many connections to the dense history of Westeros, we think a rewatch is in order. The show’s first 10 episodes jump through decades at warp speed, and if you missed any moments that helped lay the foundation for the Targaryen civil war to come, you’ll catch them on a second watch. It’s also the perfect time for any GoT fans who felt burned by the original show’s finale to jump back in. We’re happy to say the show has all the best parts of Thrones, but with even more dragons involved. HBO Max

Jack Ryan

It’s been two years since the second season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan came out, but your wait is over: Season 3 of the series is dropping in December. But with that long of a gap between seasons, you’ll need a refresher—and this weekend is the perfect time for it. In case you forgot, John Krasinski (The Office, A Quiet Place) stars as the titular CIA analyst, while Wendell Pierce (The Wire) co-stars as Ryan’s boss and friend James Greer. In the first season, Ryan and his team work to track down a ring of terrorists before moving down to South America in the second season and get involved in political corruption and warfare. Amazon Prime

Man celebrating with arms in air while winter surfing in wetsuit
National Geographic for Disney+/Craig Parry

Limitless with Chris Hemsworth

You just might learn a thing or two watching this series. Thor actor Chris Hemsworth hosts this docuseries that explores the way people can find ways to live healthier and longer by pushing themselves to the limit. The six episode series takes on a different subject in each one, including following Hemsworth as he travels to the Arctic, tries fasting to see if it will help him live longer, and push his body further than ever before. The show also features Hemsworth’s family and an emotional moment when he finds out that he may have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease. Disney Plus—National Geographic Section

Spirited

Yes, it’s a little early for Christmas, but the whole family will be able to sit back and enjoy this musical film with Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell. The movie is a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol with Ferrell playing the Scrooge type character and current Ghost of Christmas Present, while Reynolds plays the new target to take over the role. Apple TV+

Fire of Love

This documentary has some of the most incredible footage you’ll ever see on film. The story follows the lives of French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft as they study and work on documenting volcanoes and eruptions around the world. The duo end up becoming some of the foremost experts in recording volcanoes and lava flows on film. While the story does end tragically, it’s one of the most interesting documentaries you’ll see this year. Disney Plus—National Geographic Section

Nope

Jordan Peele’s latest original thriller is his most unique film yet. Frequent Peele collaborator Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and KeKe Palmer play siblings who own a horse farm that supplies Hollywood movies and commercials, but has fallen on hard times. When they encounter what looks like some type of alien object, they attempt to capture video of the UFO in order to turn around their fortunes. Saying too much more would give away some of the surprises in store, but try your best to watch this with some friends and family, as there are a few great jump scares along the way. While it may not reach the heights of his previous efforts of Get Out and Us, the film is wildly entertaining and has some of the best visuals you’ll see in a movie this year. Peacock; also available to rent/buy on all major platforms: Apple, Amazon, Google.

The Godfather and The Godfather Part II

If it’s a big holiday with family, there’s always room for one of the most well-known families in American movie culture: the Corleones. Considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time, and one of the greatest sequels of all-time, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are the perfect way to wind down after too much turkey. Following the rise and fall of the mafia dynasty, you can introduce the classics to anyone in your family who hasn’t seen them, or all enjoy a rewatch and quote your favorite lines. Featuring top performances from actors like Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and the late James Caan, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy. AMC On Demand or fuboTV; also available to rent/buy on all major platforms: Apple, Amazon, Google.

The John Wick Series

With a fourth movie on the way in 2023, the long holiday is just right to immerse yourself into the world of John Wick. The original movie came out of nowhere to start the series that would become one of the biggest box office surprises in recent years. Starring Keanu Reeves as the titular assassin looking to get revenge on the gangsters who kill his dog, the first movie opened up a whole criminal underworld of traditions, rules, and many more assassins. Each movie ratchets up the action of the previous one, with John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum featuring some of the craziest fights you’ll ever see on screen. Tubi

Alex Honnold scaling El Capitan in "Free Solo"
J Chin/National Geographic/Kobal / Shutterstock

Free Solo

It’s never too late to catch up on an instant classic. The story of climber Alex Honnold’s quest to free climb the 3,000-foot granite face of Yosemite’s El Capitan makes for a thrilling watch. You get to see up close the small steps, nerves, and anxiety that Honnold had as he prepared for and then ultimately succeeded in making the climb. Co-directed by Jimmy Chin and his wife, filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, the movie won an Academy Award for the Best Documentary at the 2019 Oscars. When you watch it, you can see why. The camera is up close with Honnold as he scales El Capitan, and it’s hard not to hold your breath as you watch him climb with no harness. Disney Plus— National Geographic Section

The Town

Over 10 years later, this crime drama still holds up. Ben Affleck stars and directs this adaptation of the Chick Hogan novel, leading a group of Boston-based bank robbers who operate out of Charlestown (aka, the Town). The group works to pull off a major bank heist, but of course, as always happens in these situations, things spiral out of control, leading the FBI to get on their trail (led by Jon Hamm). The crew then has to figure out a way to pull off one more big score, leading to a thrilling sequence that takes place at Fenway Park, making this one of the most Boston-y movies of all time. Tubi

Thirteen Lives

If you’re looking for something inspiring to go alongside your turkey and stuffing, director Ron Howard’s film about the rescue of the soccer team stuck in the Tham Luang cave in Thailand is worth your time. The film dramatizes an already dramatic story, albeit one with a very happy ending, as the 12 members of the team and their coach make it out alive after a daring rescue. Starring an all-star cast that includes Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, and Joel Edgerton alongside a number of Thai actors, the film shows the incredible lengths the team went through to complete their mission. Amazon Prime

Don’t Worry Darling

Freshly available to stream after being in theaters in September, Olivia Wilde’s psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling is a twisty drama that will keep you hooked until the very end. Starring Florence Pugh (Black Widow) and Harry Styles (Dunkirk) as a seemingly perfect couple living in an idyllic 1950’s style community led by Chris Pine’s cult leader-like character, it turns out that nothing is as it seems despite the pretty exterior. To say more would be going into spoiler territory, and the movie features some great supporting performances from Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, and Wilde herself. HBO Max

The Sopranos: Season 3, Episode 8—“He Is Risen”

If you’re in the mood to spend some time with Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) during the holiday weekend, this Thanksgiving specific-episode is a great one to throw on. It centers on the holiday, but it also is just a great episode of the series, coming at a time when Tony is at odds with Ralphie (Joe Pantoliano) and has to un-invite him for Thanksgiving dinner. There are some standout funny moments of the episode, including when a certain character says the line the episode is named for. HBO Max


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