Melissa Blake

Melissa Blake

Disabled and Thriving

Life Lessons Learned From Dr. Frasier Crane

How one show can change your entire life.

Posted Dec 07, 2009

    frasierOne of the characters is a loveable dog named Eddie. Another is a yellow, green and brown chair from the 1950s.

What, you've never watched an episode of Frasier, the hit NBC comedy that aired from 1993 to 2004, possibly the finest piece of television ever made? How could you miss out on the glory of television's golden moment?

Here's a movie trailer-style summary: Frasier Crane, who first appeared on Cheers, moves to Seattle to work as a radio psychiatrist. He lives with his retired police detective father, Martin, Martin's dog (and Frasier's enemy), Eddie and Daphne Moon, Martin's home healthcare worker. Frasier enjoys the finer things in life with his clone-like brother, Niles. Wine. Opera. The arts. Society benefits. Even his apartment reflects his taste for the high life, where he never misses an opportunity to tell all his guests that his couch is an exact replica of the one Coco Chanel had in her Paris Hotelier.

My mom and I are Frasier-philes. Certifiable, even. We've wholeheartedly wrapped our arms around everything in the Frasier universe. We own two official Frasier books. I bought my mom a script on eBay, which came with a framed cast photo that hangs ceremoniously on her bedroom wall. We dream of venturing to Seattle to sip coffee at Café Nervosa, despite the fact the shop is a fictional place and the show was filmed on an L.A. soundstage. And we own nearly every season (season nine is on its way from Amazon as we speak). We don't just watch them once. We watch them over and over. And over. We've probably seen each season close to 10 times. But why have we gravitated so strongly toward this show? The answer is simple. Frasier is perhaps the only show that mirrors life to a "T." There's no sugar-coating like "The Brady Bunch." The Cranes present life as it is, not as it should be. They're fallible humans, and the refreshing lessons that can be learned from every 22-minute episode will make your life journey that much easier.

Lesson No. 1: Familial relationships take work.

Halfway through the second episode, Frasier declares to his father the living situation simply wasn't working. He was ready to give up. Martin, ever the voice of reason, replied: "Look, you want us to forge some great father-son relationship, to make some connection. Well, that kind of thing takes a couple of years, not a couple of days. It'll go by before you know it." There were a few bumps and hiccups along the way. Frasier and Martin begin their usual holiday squabbling in season one. A typical Frasier and Niles fight ends with Niles declaring, "We're an odd little family, aren't we?" That was the beauty of their family. They didn't run. They didn't hide. They may have been odd - even dysfunctional at times - but they always aired their grievances. They showed us that life can get messy and even the closest of families may be torn apart by conflict. But they always come back together. All it takes is work and an extra dose of love and care. Where do you want your family to be in 11 years?

Lesson No. 2: Always tell the truth. Lying will only get you into trouble - or worse, get your signals crossed.

Martin finds himself on a date with a man because Frasier doesn't want to ruin his chances with the man's daughter. Niles ends up in bed with a Frenchman because no one was honest about their true intentions during a winter retreat at a posh ski lodge. And the Cranes must pretend to be Jewish on Christmas Eve - complete with a surprise visit from a Jesus-clad Niles - to impress Frasier's latest lady love. Now, all these snafus could have been avoided with a little honesty. Life shouldn't be spent in the shadow of lies and deceit. Be honest with your loved ones. But most importantly, be honest with yourself. Lying will only get you sprawled out on the floor doped up on allergy medicine and trying to revive a little plastic diver. Just refer to season six for the full story.

Lesson No. 3: Be Bold. Above all, always be yourself, no matter what anybody thinks.

Daphne swears she's a bit psychic. Frasier and Niles aren't afraid to show their feminine side, whether it be with new, monogrammed towels or having their crepe pans reseasoned. And when friends question the brothers' close relationship, saying "I think the whole arrangement is a little..." they shrugg it off. So I urge you to take risks. Be bold. Be brazen, even if people raise an eyebrow or two. Take comfort in knowing that you're following your heart.

My mother and I once thought we were the only Frasier fans on the planet. We'd tell our friends and family about our "obsession," and in return, we'd get that smile - the "how pathetic is that?" smile. But we don't care. Dr. Crane showed us a world where we can do anything and be anything we wanted. Why should we care what people think? We're happy and content with our lives, something it took the Cranes 11 years to realize. But we stuck by them. And they stood by us. Thanks for listening, Dr. Crane.