Frasier

I write about Frasier a lot.  In fact, I talk about it a lot in general conversation.  Very recently, I quoted Martin saying, "I thought this was America.  Oh wait, it is!"  Frasier has a line for every situation, and I don't hesitate to use them generously. 

But I rarely write about Frasier in terms of what the show is actually about, despite its brilliant writing.  It is often just something I allude to as I think of a real-life story that parallels a scene.  Few television shows can match the writing of Frasier.  From Frasier and Niles' pompous diatribes to Daphne's homespun wisdom and Martin's ornery responses, everything is authentic.

The numerous themes woven throughout Frasier make each episode a delight in and of themselves but ties the larger story together as characters change and grow as people, as situations mature, and problems become resolved.  Some of the more prominent themes include Frasier's search for lasting love, Niles' relationship with the never-seen Maris, Daphne and Martin's comical relationship that becomes truly familial, and eventually, the romance between Niles and Daphne coming together after his long quest for her. 

However, what I have always taken as the true theme of Frasier is the relationship between Frasier and Martin.  To begin with, the relationship is tense at best.  Martin resents his new limitations, Frasier wants to be "the good son" and take him in but resents the new constraints on his personal life.  The entire eleven seasons witnesses the evolution of this dysfunctional father-son relationship, through it's various trials, many of them hilarious, including Frasier throwing Martin's chair over the balcony, scaring him almost to death dressed as a deranged clown, twice being passed over by a woman for his own father, and Martin learning to conform to Frasier's persnickety routines. 

By the series' end, Frasier and Martin have a warm relationship.  They have learned to say they love one another.  In one episode, where Martin signs himself up at a retirement home so he can hustle the residents there at poker, Frasier tells his father he's not ready for him to move out on him yet.  The series' finale depicts all the main characters about to embark on new and somewhat disparate journies, Frasier himself leaving Seattle to find the same joy everyone else has found.  His parting with Martin is far different from the greeting they shared in the first episode, a testament to the growth they have experienced.

I love that Frasier isn't just about one failed romance after another or comical endeavors that fail.  These things give it memorable moments, but the resounding lesson we can learn from Frasier is that people can change and grow, but it doesn't happen overnight.  It usually doesn't happen without some major setbacks.  Sometimes people get discouraged, are on the verge of giving up, make grievous missteps (like Niles marrying Mel), and sometimes it takes a full decade or more, but if we are willing to invest the effort into relationships, in the end, it can pay off in tremendous ways.

Martin: You want to establish this great father-son relationship. Well, that kind of thing takes a couple of years, not a couple of days.

Frasier: A couple of years, eh?

Martin: Ah, it'll go by before you know it.


Frasier: Either that, or it'll seem like eternity.

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