Frasier (1993 - 2004)
Signed up the 25/04/2017
We’ve heard a lot about Friends or Seinfeld or Cheers over the years, and watched many re-runs on television to our heart’s content, but somehow Frasier doesn’t get half the attention the other shows get of which it rightfully deserves. And I guess when it comes to 90s anything, it all boils down to nostalgia, so I’m gonna write my case on why I think Frasier is the best of the lot.
Frasier, the spin-off for Cheers, starred the amazing Kelsey Grammer in the title character continuing the story of a psychiatrist who moves back to his hometown of Seattle and begins a new life which reunites him with his family. The hilarious sitcom also stars David Hyde Pierce as Niles Crane, Frasier’s young brother, John Mahoney as Martin Crane, their retired cop father who moves in with Frasier after a shooting left him with mobility problems, Jane Leeves as Daphne Moon, Martin’s English live-in psychical therapist and Peri Gilpin as Roz Doyle, Frasier’s producer of his psychiatry show – The Dr. Frasier Crane Show.
The characterization of the show was one of the reasons it was such a great comic relief, which may have seemed peculiar but was also very rich and meaningful. From Frasier’s arrogance but good-hearted nature, his prissy younger brother, their everyman father, Daphne’s sweet nature, and Roz’s liberal identity. David Hyde Pierce, in particular, was my favourite. The Broadway actor was initially cast because of his resemblance to Grammer. His quick wit lines and psychical comedy was one of the highlights. The banter between Niles and Frasier was laugh-out-loud hilarity, as the brothers, both psychiatrists, rarely saw eye-to-eye but were each other’s best friends (and mortal enemies). The Crane brothers, who had very high and expensive taste, held very high opinions of themselves and were intellects, often clashed with their blue-collar father. The clashes resulted in chaos but despite their differences learned to bond and grow to be closer. One of Niles’ recurring storylines in the earlier seasons was that of his ex-wife, Maris, who was never shown on screen. Though unseen, her out of the ordinary mannerisms and ridiculous antics were a great addition to the complete cast humour. It was never intended for her to not be shown, but the more Niles kept making excuses as to why she never shows up, the funnier it became.
Writing is the most important commodity of any series – comedy especially. People always mistake the shortness of a sitcom with it being easy. But it takes a lot. And a lot of comedy series in general now fail in trying too hard to be funny. Granted, the purpose is to intentionally make people laugh, but it shouldn’t be a difficult or daunting task. This is why I enjoy sitcoms from the 90s so much – the writers took their comedic craft seriously. And more than the writing, the timing and rapport of the actors. That is why I think they were able to have such great longevity. Frasier didn’t strive to make people laugh out of pure idiocy (which there’s nothing with – there are many faucets to comedy, but the writers were exceptionally smart.
When most sitcoms of their time focused on the premise of a group of single friends in their 20s or 30s, Frasier went out of the norm and focused on a family dynamic that mixed heart and poignancy with laughter. The Show was not afraid of making fun of wine lovers or discuss theatre and art in depth that the average audience member would not understand (but would find funny). Not only was it about the small knit family but Frasier’s quest for love and his many failed attempts in the romance department. From one of the co-creators and writers of Modern Family, Christopher Lloyd, it’s no wonder that both these series are tied for Emmy wins for outstanding comedy series with 5 each.
Of course, like any other comedic series, after being on air for a long time, it begins to drag. There were times I even began to question the writer’s direction, especially with the development of the love story between Niles and Daphne. But even in the midst of the show still perhaps finding itself, with the changing shift from the 90s into the 2000s, it still managed to keep me glued until its 11th and final season.
I balled my eyes out watching the final episode, because it was not just Frasier leaving Seattle to start a new chapter, but a symbolism of him leaving the show in general, and having invested months watching over 260 episodes, these characters really became a part of my life, and an imperative piece in my healing process. It was hard letting go for a while. Frasier was the end of an era I felt I was a part of, and although things come to end, Frasier will always be timeless.
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