On paper, Thanksgiving always looks like the best of all possible holidays, especially if you’re not responsible for the cooking. There are no presents to buy, no eggs to hide and no costumes to assemble — just a relaxing day filled with food and football, spent in the warm embrace of family. Of course, sometimes that embrace is not quite as warm as it appears in Norman Rockwell paintings. Maybe this is the year you don’t want to deal with Mom’s crumbly Tofurkey, drunken Uncle Jimmy’s recycled Glenn Beck rants, or sister Susie screaming at you all day just because you slept with her husband one freaking time. If you decide to spend the holiday in the warm embrace of your forty-two-inch plasma screen, however, you’ll want to be selective in deciding which of its hi-def inhabitants to let into your home. To that end, we proudly present Nerve’s guide to the five TV families you won’t want to spend Thanksgiving with.
The Drapers (Mad Men)
This is going to be awkward. It’s bad enough that you’ll have that whole Kennedy assassination thing hanging over the holiday like a dark cloud, but relations are so frosty between the soon-to-be-divorced Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty (January Jones), even an innocuous “Please pass the gravy boat” sounds like an accusation. Sure, the kids are cute, but you can’t help thinking little Sally Draper is going to grow up to join the Manson family. On the plus side, the bar is well-stocked and no one will mind if you start the cocktail hour a little early. And feel free to smoke ’em if you got ’em.
The Teller/Morrows (Sons of Anarchy)
Unless you’re a fan of unpredictable and/or highly inappropriate holiday behavior, it’s probably not a good idea to spend Thanksgiving with a biker gang that makes the Hell’s Angels look like the glee club. You’ll need a carving knife to cut the tension between rebellious Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and stepfather Clay (Ron Perlman)… and you might want to keep it handy in case that rival gang of white supremacists decides to drop by for dessert. Even if everyone is on their best possible behavior, you can bet Miss Manners won’t be impressed.
The Dunphy/Pritchetts (Modern Family)
Confusion alone may be reason enough to skip dinner with the ridiculously extended brood of patriarch Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill). By the time you learn the names of everyone from Jay’s second wife Gloria, (Sofia Vergara) to his daughter Claire (Julie Bowen) and her family, to his son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his life partner, the mashed potatoes are going to be stone cold. Besides, with so many people scrambling for place settings, you may end up sitting at the kid’s table, getting shown up by precocious Manny (Rico Rodriguez).
The Tubbs/Browns (The Cleveland Show)
First of all, you’re probably better off not spending a holiday that revolves around consuming great quantities of rich food in a town called Stoolbend, Virginia. That’s the hometown of Cleveland Brown (Mike Henry), former supporting character on Family Guy, now inexplicably the star of his own cartoon series. Sit down at the table with Cleveland, his new wife Donna (Sanaa Lathan) and their kids, and you can expect to endure all the dick jokes, gross bodily functions and dated pop-culture references you’ve come to expect from your host’s previous home on the Fox network… but now with 30% more borderline-racist humor! Also, bears live next door. Yeah, we don’t get it either.
The Gosselins (Jon & Kate Plus 8)
It’s hard to imagine a less appealing scenario than watching the Macy’s parade with this dysfunctional duo and their squalling brood… not to mention the competing teams of lawyers and camera crews jostling for elbow room. Admit it — your own family is looking pretty good right about now.