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Thanksgiving TV: ‘Yellowstone,’ ‘Friends’ and other perfect TV sides for your Thanksgiving plans

Friends Thanksgiving
(Image credit: Warner Bros./Everett)

Thanksgiving is primarily about food, family and football. But when you’re stuffed from the food, worn out from your family and maybe not the biggest football fan (or at least of the Lions and Cowboys), what can you watch on TV to change it up?

It would be very easy to assume that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and NFL football are your only real TV options on Turkey Day, but there are options outside of the main course of TV programming. Here’s a rundown of what other Thanksgiving TV options are out there.

‘Yellowstone’ marathon

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in "Yellowstone."

(Image credit: Paramount Network)

No matter how much you love your family, spending a full day with them can be exhausting. So take a break and spend some time with the Dutton family instead. Paramount Network is presenting a marathon of all of Yellowstone season 1 from noon-10 p.m. ET. If you’ve been meaning to catch up with Yellowstone, what better way could there be than to spend the holiday with one of cable's most popular shows. 

‘Friends’ Thanksgiving episodes

Friends Turkey head

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Many TV shows have done Thanksgiving-themed episodes, but few shows have done it better than Friends (was this the inspiration for people to start having Friendsgiving?). The hit comedy series featured a Thanksgiving-set episode in nine of its 10 seasons and TBS will be airing them all in one gulp, from 1-6 p.m. ET/10-3 p.m. PT. 

These are great episodes, with such classic moments as Chandler in a box, the Geller Cup and the turkey head, plus the infamous guest appearances from Brad Pitt (as Rachel's arch-nemesis) and Christina Applegate. 

‘South Park: Post-COVID’

South Park: Post-COVID

(Image credit: ViacomCBS)

South Park is getting in on the Thanksgiving action this year, though more so taking advantage that people may be looking for things to watch. South Park: Post-COVID is a special South Park event that will play exclusively on Paramount Plus. The plot shows how the boys were impacted by living through the pandemic, jumping forward in time to when they are all adults. 

‘The Beatles: Get Back’

The Beatles: Get Back documentary

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

The Fab Four are reunited in this new documentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson. The Beatles: Get Back uses archived footage and audio (some of which was used for a previous documentary) to chronicle a three week recording session by The Beatles as they wrote brand new songs for what would end up being their final live performance together. The three-part docuseries is streaming exclusively on Disney Plus, with the first premiering on Nov. 25 (the second and third episode debut on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27). 

'Hawkeye'

Hawkeye

(Image credit: Disney)

The latest Marvel/Disney Plus original series, Hawkeye is here to get us all in the holiday spirit, while also delivering plenty of arrow-shooting action and the usual dose of Marvel one-liners. Set in New York at Christmas time, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must team up with young archer Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) when a presence from Hawkeye's past arrives and threatens to derail more than just the holiday spirit. The first two episodes of Hawkeye debut on Nov. 24.

Sports (besides the NFL)

Ole Miss Matt Corral

(Image credit: Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The NFL takes center stage on Thanksgiving with three games (this year Bears vs Lions, Raiders vs Cowboys and Bills vs Saints), but there are other sporting events on tap for viewers to enjoy.

In a similar vein, college football has a big matchup scheduled on Thanksgiving, with Ole Miss playing Mississippi State on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET. We also have futbol (soccer to us Americans), as a MLS playoff matchup between the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers at 4:30 p.m. on Fox.

There will also be a number of college basketball games on the docket, including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which features Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, Loyola Chicago, Michigan State, Syracuse, UConn and VCU. The tournament’s semifinals take place on Thanksgiving on ESPN (official Thanksgiving games still TBD). Other college basketball games will air throughout the day on ESPN2.

The National Dog Show 2021

National Dog Show

(Image credit: Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Maybe not a sport, but The National Dog Show keeps the competition theme running (they do have a Sporting Group). The National Dog Show is actually another Thanksgiving tradition, as it airs on NBC from noon-2 p.m. ET following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

‘The Magic Maker’

Adam Trent The Magic Maker

(Image credit: ABC)

Magician Adam Trent is breaking one of the first rules of magic — putting spectacular magic tricks in the hands of everyday people to use in the biggest and most emotional moments of their lives, including a joyous homecoming for a U.S. soldier and helping a nervous young man propose to his girlfriend. Catch all the magic at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. 

‘DMX: Don’t Try to Understand’

DMX: Don't Try to Understand

(Image credit: HBO)

Part of HBO’s Music Box documentary series, DMX: Don’t Try to Understand is an in-depth look at the late hip-hop star. The documentary will premiere on HBO (and be available to stream on HBO Max) at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Here is the official synopsis:

With rare access, this film takes us through the final years in the life of Earl “DMX” Simmons. Documenting his many sides— from the charismatic performer on Simmons’s “It’s Dark as Hell and Hot” tour and raucous bad-boy behavior, to the doting father who takes time to reach out to young men in need—director Christopher Frierson delivers a three-dimensional portrait of the man behind the rap persona, struggling against his darkest demons, striving to keep himself and his family whole. 

'Bruised'

TV tonight Halle Berry’s Jackie takes on Valentina Schevchenko’s Lady Killer

(Image credit: Netflix)

A Netflix original film, Bruised Halle Berry stars and directed this sports drama about a disgraced MMA fighter who finds redemption in the cage and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up as an infant unexpectedly reenters her life. 

'Selling Sunset'

The Oppenheim Group on 'Selling Sunset'

(Image credit: Netflix)

Selling Sunset season 4, the popular Netflix reality series, returns on Nov. 24. Your favorite LA real estate agents are back — Chrishell, Christine, Heather Rae, Mary, Amanza, Jason and Brett — but there will also be a couple of new faces this season in Emma Hernan and Vanessa Villela; will be fun to see what they add to the show’s dynamic. 

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.