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In its 10 years on the air, Friends created many episodes that would become favorites among fans, if not outright classics for the general TV viewing public. "The One With All the Thanksgivings" is one of those episodes, but, as it turns out, the episode that saw Joey and Monica each put turkeys on their heads cheated a little bit. It looks like those head turkeys weren't 100 percent real.
We wanted --- I especially wanted --- a real turkey. Just because I wanted Matt to have to put his head into a turkey. The prop department did their due diligence, but it didn't exist. The biggest turkey ever for sale is not big enough to fit a human head. I remember them coming to us and saying, 'We have to build it.' So we made it out of foam.
Greg Malins, who wrote the Friends episode, recently spoke out about one of the interesting particulars of "The One With All the Thanksgivings." That episode, which aired during the fifth season in 1998, focused on Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe each reminiscing about their worst Thanksgivings. When Rachel is about to recount what she thinks is Monica's worst Thanksgiving, Phoebe breaks in with the tale of the time Joey got a turkey stuck on his head for the holiday. Later in the episode, we also see Monica with a turkey on her head, as she tries to apologize to Chandler for an earlier Thanksgiving incident.
Well, honestly, who among us has seen this Friends Thanksgiving episode and assumed that a real turkey was used for those scenes? Really, the regulations for putting an actual raw turkey on someone's head notwithstanding, the logistics of something like that would be out of this world. I mean, as an actor who's five years into a mega successful TV show, can you imagine being asked to encase your head in real raw meat without asking for a giant pay raise just for that? And, as Greg Malins noted when he talked to Entertainment Weekly about the show, there simply aren't any real turkeys with cavities big enough to safely fit an adult human head in them. I'm sure that this news was received with great pleasure by future turkey wearers Matt LeBlanc and Courteney Cox.
Kevin S. Bright, who directed the well-loved episode, spoke later on in the interview about how detailed those turkeys had to be to make the actors somewhat comfortable; they were, apparently, very expensive to have made, and actually had vents so that breathing was easier and mesh so that they could be seen out of.
Hopefully, your enjoyment of this classic Friends episode hasn't been hampered by the knowledge that those turkeys had to be faked by the show's prop department in order for those scenes to come off without a hitch. At least now we all know that no one had to risk bacterial infections to make us laugh our asses off for Thanksgiving.