Dinner and a Show

What is this, Cabaret? Entertainment while you eat?
The Cat, Red Dwarf

When a family gets together in a Sitcom for a big family dinner, expect hilarity to ensue. Sometimes this is treated as just normal craziness that happens when the family get together.

Not to be confused with At the Opera Tonight.


  • In Meet the Robinsons, the family dinner turns into a kung fu fight between Frani and her brothers, armed with spaghetti and meatballs, while the rest of the family cheers.
    Lewis: Is dinner always like this?
    Art: No, last night we had meatloaf.
  • In Ice Age, when Manny, Sid and Diego steal a melon from the dodos, the dodos fight back hysterically (and ineffectually) prompting Manny (played by Ray Romano, who's seen this trope played out many times before) to comment, "Wow, dinner and a show."
  • The Thanksgiving movie Whats Cooking?. You get FOUR dinners and FOUR shows as four diverse families celebrate the holiday in Los Angeles.
  • Four Holidays featured the protagonists being forced to suffer through four meals with four dysfunctional families they usually left the city to avoid over Christmas.
  • A very uncomfortable example in Whale Music. Claire invites Dennis' friends, most of whom haven't seen him in years, and he has a meltdown, thinking Danny is speaking to him.
  • The fight between Rex and Fly in Babe prompts Mr. Hogget to leave his dinner and try to split the dogs up.
  • In The Pest, while Pest is have dinner with his girlfriend's parents, a tracker chip placed in his underwear starts to overheat, causing him to get up and flail around on the floor to stop the burning.

  • The infamous dinner party hosted by Miles in A Civil Campaign.
    Miles: "My dinner party. It's just breaking up..." And sinking. All souls feared lost.
  • AJ's Annual Party from Naked Lunch. The party involves a live sex show (with possibly-simulated hangings), an orgy, and AJ decapitating a group of party-crashers while singing "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest".
    • Another instance in Hassan Salvador O'Leary's backstory, where he drove a herd of wild boars through a fancy restaurant and they ate the chef.

Live-Action TV
  • Arrested Development. "All in all, it was one of the Bluth family's better parties."
  • Brothers and Sisters, where Walker family dinners inevitably result in an argument. The only reason they're not the the page image is because deciding which dinner to use is a Herculean effort. They've started Lampshade Hanging it, especially Robert McAllister:
    Robert: Is this your first Walker family dinner?
    Sarah's latest male friend: Yes.
    Robert: Good luck.
  • One of the defining characteristics of the Crane family from Frasier, although usually some guests are involved as well. Recounting every time the family has thrown a disastrous dinner that descended into blood, tears, and chaos by the third act would take up half the page, but special mention should go to the time it was heavily Lampshaded in "Daphne Does Dinner", which featured a bizarre, Noodle Implements-filled opening scene, and in which Daphne's Epic Failure at her first lavish dinner since marrying Niles causes Frasier to proclaim that she is now "officially a Crane."
  • Basically every episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, whether or not more extended family members or Debra or Amy's parents are involved.
  • Michael and Jan's dinner party in "The Dinner Party" episode of The Office descends into a bitter fight between the two and utter chaos, much to the simultaneous amusement/horror of their guests.
  • Titus was fond of this trope as well: There was the episode where Titus' family and Erin's family came for Thanksgiving and wound up in the hospital, twice with his mother making dinner (one time drugging the entire family and trying to kill his dad, another with her psychiatrist fiancÚ showing up and making Titus and his dad upset), and once when Tommy was dating a woman who had slept with Titus - they went to her restaurant. Ken Titus even used the trope title as things got more and more awkward.
  • Lampshaded by Lorelai when she and Rory once arrived for Friday Night Dinner and they watched an argument between Richard and Emily.
  • In Due South, Ray Vecchio's family seems to have this as their default setting.
  • Malcolm in the Middle. In fact, the family probably aren't any more dysfunctional at dinner than the rest of the time - it just brings them all into close proximity.
  • If we are to go by Six Feet Under, family dinners can get quite interesting when one member of the family has had ecstasy. Without him knowing about it.
  • So common on Picket Fences whenever they have dinner guests, that lawyer Wambaugh lampshaded it when urging another guest to accept an invitation: "Strange things happen when they eat."
  • Californication seems to be going out of its way to have one of these every series. They're yet to top the one from series 2 though.
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch was an advertisement for the greatest hits of dysfunctional family holiday dinners (for those who can't make it home this year). Each one ended with the father (Will Ferrell) yelling "*BLEEP* this, I'm leaving!" and flipping his dinner plate into the air. What really made this funny was that Ferrell's plate flips just got harder every time until the last one where he practically launches it across the table.
  • On Heroes, Thanksgiving dinner at the Bennet house starts with a massive argument and ends with Claire self-mutilating in order to demonstrate her Healing Factor, causing her mom's new boyfriend to pass out. Meanwhile, at the Petrelli house, they discuss how one of the brothers is actually dead, with his memories transferred into the body of a mindwiped shapeshifting psychopath.
  • Once an Episode in Blue Bloods, the Reagan family has Sunday dinner. Sometimes it's a serious discussion of the episode's events, sometimes it's the funniest part of the episode.
  • Downton Abbey: "Upstairs" meals are often the scene of some dramatic event or other—generally understated when guests are there, but Robert's private breakfasts with his daughters can involve a bit of overt shock (and they do much to shock him). "Downstairs" meals in the servants' hall can also be the site of much tension, which is inevitably broken abruptly by Carson or Mrs Hughes saying, "Back to work".
  • On Devious Maids, the ex-wife of a dinner party's host crashes the party and threatens to destroy the dinner after chucking a piece of crystal at him. This forces Marisol to intervene and forcibly shove the ex-wife out the door.
  • Happens more or less every episode in the Slice of Life sitcom The Royle Family.



Western Animation
  • "There's a bomb in the lasagna!"
  • Hey Arnold! had quite a few of these, too.
    • Most notably the Thanksgiving episode where the phrase is uttered during Mr Simmons Thanksgiving dinner. When the girl known as Joy starts choking, Mr Simmons' "friend" Peter dryly states this as he sips some red wine.