I hate dinner parties. Like in actual, real life, I detest the idea of a dinner party. The idea of getting together with a bunch of people, some of whom I’ve never met to partake in an activity (eating) that I hold sacred bothers my soul. And that’s when they’re going well. Occasionally there’s the random snafu that threatens to interrupt my dinner plans. All thanks to the ill-conceived planning of the host (because I would never host such an abomination), by inviting guests that have predetermined tensions that start with awkward commentary and evolve to tacky insults and eventually inaccurate food-throwing while some of us are just trying to ingest their food and leave. I mean… why won’t you let me eat my lasagna in peace?
So now instead of going to dinner parties these days, I stay at home and eat dinner in bed while watching Netflix. And the more shows I watch, the more I’ve seen that dinner parties are just a disaster recipe whose ingredients got left in the oven too long. So I decided to rank some of my favorite TV dinner moments where things didn’t go as one would expect.
Game of Thrones (Tarwell Dinner – Party of 6 please)
After six seasons of Game of Thrones, it’s safe to say that the character of Samwell Tarly has stalled a little. He’s a nice guy and he means well, but no one’s really interested in his quest to become a maester except die-hard A Song of Ice and Fire fans (me included). On television, he had no purpose other than providing levity to Jon Snow’s constant brooding and depression. So when Season 6 decided to pull Sam off the bench and give him and his family some game-time minutes, I was confused. That is until Sam decided that he would take his mom’s offer up on some more bread and his dad let loose a scathing reply that would have made Tywin Lannister sit up in his grave yelling “OOOOOOH SNAP!” From there the conversation devolves into Randyll emasculating his son in classic Westeros “Father of the Year” fashion.
The Americans (Does everyone know something that I don’t? Is there something in my teeth?)
I don’t think there’s a show on television right now that’s able to induce and sustain tension as well as The Americans on FX is able to do. It’s a show about Russian spies in the 80s living deep undercover for years in Washington D.C. while they carry out missions for the Soviet Union. They have a family. Their oldest daughter finds out that they’re spies. She tells the pastor of the church she goes to. Pastor tells his wife. Spies convince pastor and wife to keep their mouths shut. Did I mention that the spies’ next-door neighbor is a FBI agent who just so happens to be looking for Russian undercover agents? This builds up over 4 seasons to an episode called “Dinner for Seven” in which everyone at the table knows about the real identities of Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings except their son and Stan Beeman, the FBI agent.
Breaking Bad (“These are some great green beans Mrs. White!”)
Breaking Bad had its fair share of awkward mealtime conversations. From breakfast in the White household to the dinners that Walter had with Gus or Hank, or Skyler using her adultery as a weapon against Walt, food has always brought out the best of the show’s characters. But nothing was better than Walt asking Jesse to stay behind for dinner during the “Buyout” episode of the show’s fifth season.
Game of Thrones (The Rains of Castamere)
Game of Thrones ended its 3rd season with one of the most shocking sequences ever seen on a television show. Call it a wedding reception or whatever, it was still a bunch of people sitting out to eat and drink wine and one family slaughtering another unexpectedly. This situation went way beyond awkward. It was an utter abomination that had reverberations that can still be felt on the show 3 seasons later. If you’ve never seen it before, the scene below isn’t for the faint of heart. Even just listening to the tunes of the Rains of Castamere gives me chills.
The Office (“You were hardly my first!” – “That’s what she said.”)
Finally we’ve come to one of my favorite episodes of my favorite TV show of all time. From the amalgam of dinner guests that were invited to Michael and Jan’s dinner party to them having to wait 6 hours for Jan’s dinner to get done cooking, this is one of the most cringe-filled episodes of television I have ever watched. And no one does awkward better than the cast and writers of The Office. Throw in the fact that Dwight shows up with a homeless lady as his date and the volatile nature of Jan and Michael’s horrible relationship AND that Jan is a certified lunatic and we have one of the best episodes of The Office ever created.