As fans know, Friends has plenty of amazing holiday episodes that make you want to watch them even when it’s way past the holiday in question. Thanksgiving episodes in particular are among the best. Who can forget the one where the gang plays football? Or the one where Brad Pitt makes a special appearance as Will, who harbors an intense hatred towards Rachel since high school? But the most underrated Friends Thanksgiving episode is, hands down, Season 4’s “The One With Chandler In a Box.”
Friends always went against tradition with its holiday episodes, preferring to showcase some bizarre, highly entertaining storylines. I mean, just take "The One With The Holiday Armadillo", featuring a very unexpected holiday character. So naturally, for “The One With Chandler In a Box," there’s also an unusual star: the box in question. The Thanksgiving episode shows how strong the bond between Joey and Chandler is, and how their friendship becomes stronger than ever thanks to the box.
Prior to this episode, Joey was dating fellow actor Kathy, but after hanging out with Chandler, she realized they had a lot more chemistry than she had with Joey. Yet instead of breaking off the relationship right away, Kathy kisses Chandler. Joey finds out, and though Chandler begins to date Kathy, the men's friendship is (temporarily) in tatters. It’s up to Chandler to choose between a happy new relationship or his longstanding friendship with Joey.
The Thanksgiving episode delves into the aftermath of Chandler’s actions, as he deals with living with Joey while receiving the silent treatment. Just when Joey’s considering forgiving him, he spots Chandler at Central Perk kissing Kathy. After Chandler tries to do everything in his power to win back his best friend, Joey comes up with a plan: Chandler will have to stay in a box for six hours during Thanksgiving dinner. At that point, Chandler’s absolutely desperate, so he accepts.
Chandler and Joey have been through plenty of crazy things, but forcing one friend to stay in a box for hours to prove how much their friendship means is one of the weirdest, most hilarious Joey/Chandler moments ever. The box is not the only crazy thing going on in the episode, however. There are two side stories: Monica hurts her eye and has to go see an ophthalmologist — who just happens to be her recent ex Richard’s super attractive son — and Ross finds out Rachel has returned each gift he’s ever given her, causing him to pettily call her out throughout the whole Thanksgiving dinner.
This episode also includes one of Monica’s most iconic lines on the show. When the gang stars giving her a hard time for having a crush on Richard’s son, she responds to them all with, “Fine, judge all you want to. But married a lesbian, left a man at the altar, fell in love with a gay ice dancer, threw a girl’s wooden leg in the fire, live in a box!”
But even when the drama and humor aren't centered around the box, Chandler is still the star of the episode. Since he can’t be part of the dinner, he breaks the tension — as he’s prone to do even when he’s not trapped in a box — by playing pranks on the group. He knocks on the box so they’ll think there’s someone at the door and claims to be mooning them while they’re having an intense conversation.
But the best moment is when after being harsh on Chandler and not even allowing him to speak, Joey changes his mind once Kathy drops by to tell Chandler that she can't stand being the reason the two men are no longer best friends. It's a heartbreaking ending to a hilarious episode, since besides Monica, Kathy was one of the best relationships Chandler had on the show. Joey, knowing how much Kathy means to Chandler, moans, "Open the box!," embracing Chandler and telling him to run after Kathy. It's one of the most touching moments in their friendship.
This is hands down one of the funniest Friends episodes and worth a second — or 100th — viewing even if Thanksgiving’s not for many more months.