The Office Has Just 1 Thanksgiving Episode, And It's Unfairly Forgotten
Ok, so The Office didn't go all-in on Thanksgiving like Friends did, but it did have an episode set on Thanksgiving.
- The Office had an 'unofficial' Thanksgiving episode
- Dwight put on a hay festival in the parking lot
- Guess who was named The Hay King?
Remember when Michael and his colleagues invested in WUPHF.com? It was the one where Dwight threw a hay festival in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot and declared himself King. But did you know that was the only Thanksgiving episode of The Office?
The Office Thanksgiving episode
Unlike many of its contemporaries, The Office didn't really go in for Thanksgiving episodes per se. But as a US sitcom, it had to at least acknowledge the celebration – which it did in Season 7, Episode 9. Thanksgiving may not have been the main focus of the episode – and it certainly wasn't given the same attention as Christmas was in terms of planning and celebrating, but it was there.
Thanksgiving is a holiday tradition in America that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November – right before Black Friday, if you're interested. Traditionally, family and friends get together to share a meal in the same way they might do for Christmas.
In this episode, written by Aaron Shure, Dwight put on a Hay Bale Festival in the parking lot where kids were invited to make broomsticks, find their way out of the hay bale maze and go on a hay ride in a van. There was also a petting zoo that closed at 2.00 and a goat roast at 3.00.
Dwight's hay festival
When explaining the festival, Dwight also stated that one 'lucky' festival-goer would be crowned The Hay King. If this all sounds a bit weird, well, that's because it was.
Ultimately, the whole thing boiled down to the fact that Dwight's family had put on these events when he was a child and he'd never been named The Hay King. By organising his own hay festival, he was nailed on to win the crown. And in the end, he admitted his motivation for the day was to make up for childhood disappointment.
The episode featured some great one-liners from Dwight as he described how he remembered his uncle's festivals at this time of year, and as he interacted with the kids, he told one not to stand on the hay bales and quickly took three more dollars from a boy who wanted to take another spin in the back of the van.
You could tell he was doing it for himself when he described how he and his siblings/cousins called the festivals Hay Place, while his uncle labelled the events Hay World. When the scene cuts to Dwight proudly opening his version, the sign above the entrance reads 'Hay Place'.
Angela and the senator revealed it was also Thanksgiving
During the episode, Angela and Senator Robert Lipton flirted awkwardly, each expressing shock at the prices Dwight was charging. And while Dwight had explained in his introduction that this was a fall tradition for his family, Angela and the senator mentioned during their conversation that it was also Thanksgiving.
It may have been no more than a subtle nod to the US holiday, but it was included. And that makes this episode The Office's (unofficial) Thanksgiving show.
Its reception was mixed
In the end, the episode received mixed reviews from fans of the show. For some, it was part of a downturn in what was once a top show. Clothes thought it was great, and felt the episode was perfectly crafted and built to a hilarious crescendo. Although there was also general agreement that much of the episode was average.
With an IMDB score of 7.5, it seems that more people were fans than not. But you can't please all the people all the time. Maybe it wasn't the most memorable of episodes compared with some, but it deserves to be recognised as one that explained a lot about the way Dwight's mind works and had a brilliant ending.