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Please Don’t Subject Me to Football on Thanksgiving

My worst nightmare. Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

For reasons I do not need to explain, football is getting even more attention than usual these days, and you’d be forgiven for feeling a little sick of it. I sure am, but unfortunately for me, it’s Thanksgiving, a holiday gathering where football is almost always on. I don’t know about your family, but mine loves watching it just loudly enough that you can hear it from every room in the house. Whatever you are doing — opening a can of cranberry sauce, preparing to go on a walk with your cousin, telling your aunt about Barbra Streisand’s dog — the sound of sports will be needling your brain. But even watching football on mute has its downsides. There are few things worse than being forced to talk to someone whose eyes are glued to the screen behind you.

Regardless, the presence of a bunch of beefy guys on the TV puts a real damper on the whole Turkey Day experience. This is a shame, especially when there are so many other delightful things to half-watch while inhaling mashed potatoes. Why not replay the Macy’s Parade and force your cousins to pick their favorite float? Or play all three Lord of the Rings movies back-to-back, whose extended versions can fill over 12 hours of cooking, serving, eating, and cleaning up? Cats (2019), anyone? You could even throw one of those crackling fire YouTube videos on the screen and call it a day.

Personally, I believe no turkey meal is complete without The O.C.’s perfect Thanksgiving episode, “Homecoming,” ideally played on an unending loop. Ryan and Marissa go to Chino! Seth spends all day sprinting between the pool house and his bedroom to make out with two different unsuspecting women! Kirsten burns a turkey! Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows do their thing! There’s something for everyone. Alas, as my extended family has repeatedly told me, the antics of wealthy but endearing West Coast teens are not for everyone. In search of something else, anything else, to put onscreen in lieu of football, I consulted my colleagues. Here’s what they came up with.

The Godfather
What’s better than getting the family to gather around the television in the living room to watch a unit more dysfunctional than your own? Your aunt fighting about which cheeses were put in the mac and cheese or your uncle complaining about having to clean out your grandma’s attic has nothing on the drama tearing apart the Corleone dynasty, which TCM explores every Thanksgiving by airing all three parts of The Godfather trilogy. Buon appetito. – Brooke Marine, deputy culture editor

Gilmore Girls
Cliché as it sounds, an early-season Gilmore Girls loop is my ideal Thanksgiving viewing. The ambient noise of Friday-night-dinner arguments, the autumnal vibes, and, of course, the “Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” episode in season three set the mood. – Bindu Bansinath, staff writer

Bob’s Burgers
The team at Bob’s Burgers consistently puts out amazing holiday episodes, and there are so many great Thanksgiving ones to choose from. Our sibling publication, Vulture, put out a ranking. I agree with their top five, if not the exact order they’re in. – Rachel Bashein, managing editor

Father of the Bride
If you need something the whole family can watch together — grandparents and kids and even your cousin’s new boyfriend — it’s gotta be Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. It’s the only film that my entire family (12 people) can agree on. It’s sweet and funny and has great music, and it clocks in at an hour 45 minutes long. – RB

The National Dog Show
My favorite thing to watch on Thanksgiving is the National Dog Show, which is on from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET on NBC or Peacock. One, this program will slake your family’s thirst for competition, making it a viable football alternative. Two, it’s just dogs: close-ups of dogs and dogs running around a ring. Three: It is almost entirely uncontroversial content. Sure, some viewers may be upset with a bichon taking home the trophy when he looks more cotton ball than dog; others may feel the bichon to be a legitimate category of canine, go figure. This is the safest genre of Thanksgiving debate to have around the table. – Claire Lampen, news editor

Best in Show
After the Dog Show is over, you can chase it with the movie that started it all: Best in Show, Christopher Guest’s 2000 mockumentary that inspired an NBC Sports exec to create a dog show for the post-parade slot. If, after the movie, you still need more dog show, select years are apparently available to rewatch on Peacock. You can kill so, so much time this way. – CL

Little Women
If you’re going for really intense counterprogramming, I recommend Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. For a more modern pick, a tearjerker that is a little silly and will make you feel grateful for the love and friendship in your life: Aquamarine, a meaning-of-friendship classic, or Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, which will make you laugh and hug your relatives tight. – Katja Vujić, social editor

Home videos
My family used to do a huge Thanksgiving in Texas and the Cowboys always ended up on our screen, but now, we keep it way more low-key. My dad will normally play some old home videos from his computer, and we’ll gather around his screen to laugh. Once that’s done, we’ll watch a great bad movie, like Twilight. I’ll be opting for New Moon this year since I just watched the original a few weeks ago. – Brooke LaMantia, shopping writer

Please Don’t Subject Me to Football on Thanksgiving