Monday, May 16, 2005

Everybody Loves Who?

Lots of hoopla surrounding the finale of Everybody Loves Raymond this week. I don't really understand it, myself. Don't get me wrong, it's a well-made, funny show. But name a TV series that's been as highly-rated and long-running as Raymond that's left a smaller cultural footprint?

You could make an argument that Raymond is one of the five or ten most successful TV shows of the last decade, yet it leaves behind nothing. There are no cultural artifacts left over from its run. It hasn’t launched anyone new into zeitgeist. And it hasn’t changed the TV industry or the sitcom in even a small way.

Can any of you point to shows with as much success as Raymond, but less influence?

Update, 11:15 a.m.: Galley Friend J.E. writes in:
Frasier. Dallas. And others. The influence of a show like Raymond should be measured by how it "inspired" other series. Raymond rewrote the utterly dysfunctional family (Married With Children) into something that looks and feels fresh and true. It wasn't mean spirited, the way family comedies had been for at least ten years. Now there's a bunch of shows (like King of Queens) that don't paint all families as pathological. That's a lot of influence.

I would say that Frasier was nowhere near Raymond in terms of commercial success--Raymond has been a top 10 show for almost seven years and an anchor for CBS, while Frasier was a critical darling that NBC had to shift around in the schedule to protect. And I would suggest that Dallas practically invented the modern cliff-hanger: "Who Shot J.R.?" captivated the entire nation like nothing else in pop culture and the reveal was, at the time, the highest-rated series episode in TV history.

But J.E.'s larger point, that Raymond has made it safe for television to love the functional family again, seems pretty spot-on, and is a very big deal indeed. Could this be Raymond's hidden legacy?

8 comments:

Michael said...

CBS News with Dan Rather?

Oh wait, you said successful...

never mind.

DB said...

The Bob Newhart Show.

Cal Lanier said...

There are a number of utterly forgettable sitcoms that last a long time. Off the top of my head: Wings (8 years), Family Matters (10 years), One Day at a Time (10 years), Alice (12 years).

Wings had a great cast that occasionally rose above the show's plebian nature. The rest of them never managed even that much. I'm sure there's a number I've missed, too.

Raymond is the best of the under-the-radar shows by a long shot.

Liz said...

"It wasn't mean spirited, the way family comedies had been for at least ten years."

Hmmm, I think I have to take exception to that. "Raymond" was, at times, incredibly mean spirited - and sometimes just plain mean. The constant animosity between Deborah and Marie (even with the kissy-kissy making up)and the bickering between Raymond and Deborah made me wonder why they weren't heading for divorce court. One episode, in particular, stands out. Ray buys Deborah an over-the-counter PMS product and she goes ballistic even to the point of pushing him into a bookcase. The scene was so over-the-top. I remember thinking "If that was the male character pushing the wife, it would be considered abuse." Dysfunctional - yeah, whatever. What does that word even mean anymore? Mean-spirited and mean - yes.

growler said...

I have to argue that recasting "the utterly dysfunctional family (Married With Children) into something that looks and feels fresh and true" happened first with "The Simpsons" and then with "Roseanne." The families in both those shows were/are hopelessly screwed yet very loving.

Anonymous said...

Did "Raymond" start the trend of schlubby-looking stand up comics casting far too attractive women as their wives?

Anonymous said...

Third Rock from the Sun, Home Improvement, Roseanne

Anonymous said...

Spin City, Designing Women, Coach, Major Dad, Murphy Brown, ...