Even though the show debuted literally two days before my sixth birthday, at 31-years-old, I am just now watching Everybody Loves Raymond. And before you give me that virtual look, I need nice, sometimes background noise, escapist sitcom fun! I can’t always watch a movie or a dramatic TV show or even wrestling (okay, I can always watch wrestling).
For whatever reason, I didn’t expect to like this show and that’s why it wasn’t on my radar all of these years. I mean, the episodes where Raymond (and his brother, Robert and his mother, Marie) appeared on my favorite sitcom, King of Queens, were good, but I still didn’t think an overall show centered on Raymond would appeal to me.
Side note: Because of that, I always assumed King of Queens was first and those episodes were a way to try out the Raymond character. Whoops. So, it was quite the thrill to see Kevin James (even going by Kevin, no less) two years prior to his own show debuting appearing as a friend of Raymond’s on Everybody Loves Raymond. And he’s hilarious in that role of course.
As it turns out, this show absolutely appeals to me because Raymond might be the most realistic and relatable sitcom character I’ve seen, meaning among the sitcoms I’ve watched, so don’t judge me for excluding a sitcom character from a show I haven’t seen!
The setup of the show is that Raymond and his wife, Debra (played by Patricia Heaton), are raising their twins and daughter in Long Island and just so happen to live across the street from Raymond’s intrusive, demanding and hilariously 1950s-esque parents, Marie (played by the late Doris Roberts) and Frank (played by the late Peter Boyle), along with Raymond’s brother, Robert (played by Brad Garrett), who still lives at home and is a quirky New York City Police Officer.
Perhaps the only unrealistic item is that Raymond is the sole “breadwinner” of the family on a sports columnist salary and his wife is a stay-at-home mother who used to do public relations. That is, he’s able to support a family that includes himself, his wife, twin boys and a daughter in Long Island. I mean, maybe! I’m sure some sports columnists do make a lot of money, but I’m not sure if it’s, “Support a whole family by yourself,” money.
Raymond is someone who earnestly tries to be a good husband, father, brother and son, but he’s goofy, dork-ish and sometimes even stupid (when trying to balance a checkbook in one episode) and sometimes, as we all do, falls short. His most relatable trait is how much of an anxious and pessimistic person he is, always worrying about this or that and unable to relax.
So, he’s relatable because he actually seems like a real person who would exist in the world and not some Hollywood caricature of a real person who would exist in the world.
And the problems they deal with are realistic: Intrusive in-laws, misbehaving children, Raymond being insecure about his relationship with Debra, and so on.
Also, maybe I Just have nostalgia for the 1990s? The Before Time? Yeah, I said it! Where shows existed before the internet was really a thing or iPhones. Where those characters didn’t have to exist in a world that exists with those things. It’s just different and less “polished” in a way? It’s hard to describe. But I dig that environment and aesthetic.
Throughout the show, there’s also moments where it gets more serious, which I always appreciate in my sitcoms. Because Frank is the quintessential man of the 1950s: He expects his wife to do everything and he seals his emotions behind bravado and a false sense of “manliness.” But there are times where they break through that and Raymond and him have real conversations and exchange real feelings. Same with Raymond and his brother.
The show has made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions, like the aforementioned misbehaving child episode, where Raymond tells his daughter she has to listen to her mother.
“Why?” she asks.
“Because I do!” he replies.
That cracked me up. But also, sometimes episodes don’t always crack me up and that’s okay, too. I just enjoy watching these characters and having something light on the television to enjoy.
I’m about half-way through season two and I look forward to continuing on to see how the show and its characters develop!
Does anyone else “love” Raymond?