With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we’ve put together a list of five Black American sitcom specials the feature families getting together around the Thanksgiving turkey that will get you in the festive spirit.
1. Good Times, “Grandpa’s Visit” (1976)
Florida (Esther Rolle) is initially excited for her children’s grandfather Henry (Richard Ward) to show up for Thanksgiving, but she gets a rude awakening when he arrives with a woman named Lena (Paulene Myers). Lena’s arrival leaves Florida in a moral quandary since Florida believes people should be married before living together.
2. Webster, “Thanksgiving Show” (1984)
Emily (Neva Patterson), the prim, stubborn mother of Webster’s (Emmanuel Lewis) foster mom Katherine (Susan Clark), shows up for Thanksgiving, but the gathering doesn’t lead to much family togetherness due to Neva’s unwillingness to accept change, which leads to a fight with Katherine. Ben Vereen also guest stars as Webster’s biological uncle, Eddie.
3. Martin, “Feast or Famine” (1994)
Martin (Martin Lawrence), Gina (Tisha Campbell), Pam (Tichina Arnold), Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II) and Tommy (Thomas Mikal Ford) get in an argument about who can cook Thanksgiving dinner better, leading to a battle of the sexes in the kitchen. Lawrence also plays Martin’s mother, who comes to help Gina, even though she is opposed to Gina’s relationship with her son.
4. The Hughleys, “The Thanksgiving Episode” (1998)
Yvonne (Elise Neal) wants to be able to finally impress her husband Darryl’s (D.L. Hughley) mother Hattie Mae (Marla Gibbs), aunt Jessie Mae (Patricia Belcher) and grandmother M’Dear (Virginia Capers). To this end, she plans to do all of the Thanksgiving cooking. However, the Hughley matriarchs aren’t having it and try to bully Yvonne for control of the kitchen.
5. Half & Half, “The Big Thanks for Forgiving Episode” (2002)
The late Diahann Carroll guest stars as Ruth, the grandmother to half-sisters Mona (Rachel True) and Dee Dee (Essence Atkins). Both sisters and their combined families are together for Thanksgiving, but the evening is full of rivalry and tension as Mona and Dee Dee’s mothers, Phyllis (Telma Hopkins) and Big Dee Dee (Valarie Pettiford), battle it out with a test of wills. Meanwhile, Dee Dee tries to impress Ruth so she can gain a relationship with her like the one Ruth has with Mona.
Which Thanksgiving special is your favorite?