Tuesday, January 28, 2020

All about Maris

There was an article in the Atlantic by Megan Garber assigning much significance to "Maris jokes" in FRASIER. 

Here is the article.  

I read it and decided to respond by emailing her.  This is what I wrote:

Hi Megan,

As a contributing writer of FRASIER and author of some of those Maris jokes, I must say I quite enjoyed your article but respectfully feel you over-thought the significance of them. If there are reflections of society and veiled commentaries on '90s era women in Maris jokes I can assure you they were not intentional. At least in my case. I’m not that deep. :)

I was not one of the creators or showrunners but my understanding was that they were simply jokes written at a time when America was less sensitive to offending any single viewer. If anything we wanted to clear the way for Niles to lust secretly after Daphne without the audience resenting him for it or feeling sorry for Maris. Beyond that, I for one was going for the laugh.

All that said, I’m so proud to have been a part of a 20 year-old sitcom that is still appreciated and discussed today. So in that regard, thanks again for your thoughtful article.

Happiest of holidays,

Ken Levine

This was several weeks ago.  I was hoping she'd write back so I could include her response, but she never did.   

What do you think? 


BobbyL said...

I love Maris in the springtime.

Susan said...

Regarding yesterday's post, I hope you don't feel bad about my question.

Do you think you will be remembered in the Oscar's 'In Memoriam' segment?

You wrote for a few movies, but your work was for mostly TV shows. I am sure you would have thought about it too.

Please share your thoughts in your own funny way.

Do you need to be a member of the Academy in order to be considered?

Glenn said...

Don't think I've ever seen someone reach so hard to be offended.

Sadly, Ken, it's been 16 years since Frasier left the air, and that's about the usual timeline for the outrage factor to kick in. I figure another year or so before you hear the "it's awful, you couldn't do it today" complaints (if you don't hear them already).

For the record, the best Maris joke was when Frasier put a tiny bowl on the head of Niles' greyhound dog to show us what Maris supposedly looks like.

UnWoke said...

Good for you, Ken. I read her article when a reader posted the link here a few weeks ago and thought it was typical millennial garbage.

An entire generation of writers have created their own industry of finding things from the past "problematic." Friends is "problematic", Frasier is "problematic". I'm sure there's an article somewhere that says Cheers is "problematic."

Unfortunately, the millennial generation have a preoccupation with seeking offence in everything they see and watch. This is done for one sole reason. To flaunt their politically correct credentials. To let everyone know that their views and principles are infinitely superior to all those poor dumb souls who actually enjoyed Friends or Frasier.

Such is the poisonous climate today that something like Back to the Future could not be made now. Writers like Megan Garber would find the Libyan terrorists who shoot Doc "problematic." They'd find it "problematic" that Lorraine tells Marty she likes a man who can stand up for her. They'd say Lorraine is "denied agency" by having George rescue her from being raped by Biff.

You also have slightly older journalists who want to be hip and cool with the kidz, so they too like to let everyone know they've got the "right" opinions as well. In the UK, there's a writer for The Guardian, Steve Rose, who I think may be the most hilariously woke writer around. Check out the titles of some of his articles. They read like a satire of a woke man, except he's genuine and lacks any self awareness about the shit he writes.

Too 'chubby' to play Bond: the impossible body standards of the modern action hero

Microaggressions and misery: why Marriage Story is a rare example of a Hollywood divorce film

Battle of the sexes: why this year's Oscars will be a gender war

Hasta la vista, Arnie: Sarah Connor is the Terminator's true cultural icon

Fly men to the moon: Ad Astra and the toxic masculinity of space films

We will classic rock you: when will the white guitarist conveyor belt end?

A whole new world: does the new Aladdin fetishise Middle Eastern culture?

Ben Is Back to Beautiful Boy: why the white male bombs at the box office

Mike Barer said...

Comedy is comedy. I think later, the show created a living Maris, in the persona of Mel.

Karan G said...

A friend of mine once said that Patti Smith can communicate more in one paragraph than most writers can communicate in an entire chapter. I approached the article with an open mind, but it didn't comport with my logic or intuition...so I stopped reading. She may be correct, but my logic wasn't following......

Dana King said...

She's reading too much into it, much like the English teacher who goes on about why an author chose blue for the color of the drapes when the author, if asked, would say, "I like blue."

I also think her criticism that Maris's depiction was unfair to women. Maris was but one "character" on the show, and the qualities and quirks afforded Daphne and Roz showed a well-balanced ability to find humor in various human characteristics.

What she missed was how the Maris jokes humanized Frasier and Niles. For all their pretentiousness and superficial high-mindedness, they were not above snark directed toward someone who was not there. The Maris jokes also are a subtle reminder that the Crane brothers were not born to wealth and at some level may feel insecure around it, as if they don't quite belong. Maris would exacerbate those feelings, so she was fair game.

I agree with your comment about how we're now living in an age where everyone is on constant alert lest something that could offend them pop up. It's death to humor to worry too much about that.

Christel said...

A a woman from Europe things may be different for me.
I agree with you the article is a little overthinking things. I would suggest her not to do that, and use her talent for observing and writing to better use.
But what struck me the most was"[...]American culture’s worst views of women: that they are weak, that they are self-absorbed, that they are manipulative, that they are vapid"
I don't suppose for one minute that she means weakness, self-absorbtion, being manipulative and vapidness are to be man only privileges?

Anonymous said...

IF I was were you, I wouldn't hold my breath.

James said...

but respectfully feel you over-thought the significance of them.

I agree. But I bear in mind that I was an English major in college, like a lot of people who write these things, and we were trained to a seedling of an idea and make it into an oak tree.

If we didn't overthink this stuff, we'd never have been able to write term papers or essay finals.

Andrew said...

That was a very thoughtful response.

I would have simply wrote, "Lighten up, Francis." The author takes herself way too seriously. But your way is better.

McAlvie said...

While I don't always agree that we've become over sensitive, I do think that the article goes looking for something that doesn't exist … literally, since the character is not only imaginary but is never personified.

I'm the last person to be comfortable poking fun at others, but caricatures are not people. The jokes would have been a lot less funny if Maris had been on the screen, although she would have been no more likeable. We all bear some responsibility for our place in society. And if you go through life behaving in an unlikeable fashion, don't expect people to ever like you.

It's interesting to me that the author made a flap about poking fun at Maris, but expressed not an iota of concern for other characters who actually had screen time, and all of whom were the targets of jokes at one time or another. Why, was it okay for us to laugh at Frasier and Niles, and everyone else who was a target, but wrong to laugh an a character that was literally no more than a figment of imagination?

If you really care about such things, then you have to be equally sensitive to them all. If the invisible person is no less worthy, then they are no more worthy, either.

Schroeder said...

Good grief. When will this end ?

Rob D said...

The article mentions other never-seen sitcom characters, like Vera and Mrs Wolowitz. Any male equivalents? The only one I can think of was Karen on Will & Grace, taking about her husband (or ex?) Stan. Usually just cheap fat jokes, I think, nothing too complex.There was Phylis on the MTM show who was always droning on about her wonderful, rich, doctor husband Lars. But the joke there of course is that she was always boorishly bragging about him and how outrageously accomplished he was.

Tammy said...

I really like that both the original article and your response to it were respectful. Shame the writer didn’t reply, maybe she will now that you’ve posted... I remember I too felt uncomfortable with the Maris jokes (though gotta admit, I laughed), as they were too reminiscent of the “I hate my wife” trope. Ironically, when Niles was shown to love his wife it also kind of made him look bad, as she was such a horrible person.

As for your comment that none of those messages were intended: When I was in uni I wrote a paper on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which mentioned the backlash the end of the Willow/Tara storyline received for allegedly being homophobic. I explained why I thought it wasn’t, including Joss Whedon’s explanation of his choices, which clearly showed he had no such intentions. The professor commented - and I realized he was right - that as far as representation goes, the only thing that matters is the message conveyed in the work, whether intended or not. Of course the question is then, who decides what is actually being conveyed here...

UnWoke said...


I keep hoping this is a temporal aberration and we'll eventually return to normality, but sometimes I fear it'll never end.

What the woke millennials don't understand is that all comedy is ultimately at the expense of someone or something. If comedy was to be crafted in a way that guarantees no one on earth is offended, it wouldn't be comedy.

It's not just comedy that's targeted of course. Everything is attacked by wokesters. Left wing writers in Britain literally condemned the film Dunkirk for being dominated by men! A film about a real historical event that involved men!

And with anti-Semitism becoming mainstreamed on the left, especially in Europe, but masquerading as "anti-Zionism", it's only a matter of time before some millennial writer with a degree in post-structural intersectional colonial gender studies pens an article with a title like "Zionist propaganda: Why Schindler's List is problematic." The Guardian would certainly jump on publishing it.

Mike Doran said...

All this speculation about a character who was never accorded an on-screen appearance …
To give ex post facto notoriety to a phantom is like making a special costume for her, even if she doesn't show up in person.
Would that "costume" be …
*are you ready, world?*
Maris's Mantle?
(Mr. Peabody's foghorn in the near distance …)

kitano0 said...

When I encounter such nonsense I default back to a favorite, well-used phrase "F--- 'em if they can't take a joke."

Stephen Marks said...

Maris plus "Mrs. Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory, Peggy’s mother in Married … With Children, and Vera in Cheers." All women. What she conveniently left out was Karen's unseen fat husband on Will & Grace taking 8 years of weight jokes and, of course, Frank Burns being subjected to five years of no lips and no chin jokes....to his face. I guess for Ms. Garber's article in the Atlantic it was that time of the monthly!

Sean said...

Your reply is honest, so I like it.

The concept of a joke is simple, right. Jokes aren't serious discussion. They're an entirely seperate category, with completely different rules.

Really only one rule--and this might have been what you were getting at-- does it make people laugh? If it does then it's a good joke. If it doesn't then it's a bad joke.

Most children naturally understand this.

So, maybe it is over-thinking and over-education which seems to be stripping people of their sense of humor these days?


RF Burns said...

"Maris is a caricature, and the features exaggerated in the show’s sketch of her can suggest American culture’s worst views of women: that they are weak, that they are self-absorbed, that they are manipulative, that they are vapid. Maris is excessively self-conscious about her appearance, and the mental state leads to physical deficiency. The jokes about her smallness accumulate..."

Substitute "Trump" for "Maris" in the above paragraph. Works a treat!

Pizzagod said...

God, I am so off-wavelength right now. When I saw the headline I was sure this was going to be about Old #9....

Tommy Raiko said...

Regarding Rob D.'s question "The article mentions other never-seen sitcom characters, like Vera and Mrs Wolowitz. Any male equivalents?"--

Aside from Karen's already-mentioned Will & Grace husband Stan, there was Lars, Phyllis's husband on the Mary Tyler Moore show, never seen on screen but revealed to have had a fling with Betty White's character in a particularly classic episode.

I'll admit that the first unseen male character that came to mind was Charlie from Charlie's Angel. But though he's unseen he's not unheard and not from a sitcom...

kcross said...

Rob D: The only male off-screen character I could immediately remember was Phyllis Diller's husband Fang. But since she was a comedienne, not a sitcom, I did a search for "sitcom characters you never see" and learned about Bob Sacamano and Ugly Naked Guy from Friends, Richard Nygard from Parks and Recreation, Fernando from I'm Alan Partridge, and others.

To me Maris and Vera always represented the type of joke where the viewer had to visualize the joke themselves, like Jack Benny's vault or Fibber McGee's closet.

J. Walker said...

I think that "You're overthinking it!" and "People are too sensitive these days!" are the laziest possible responses to criticism.

Buttermilk Sky said...

The only male never-seen character I can remember is Carlton the doorman on RHODA. He was voiced by Lorenzo Music, one of the writers and also one of my all-time favorite names.

There's a new book called "We'll Always Have Casablanca" which celebrates "Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie" for its welcoming attitude toward immigrants, many of whom were involved in making it. Of course, it's impossible to overlook its subplot about a powerful man demanding sex from desperate women in return for exit visas. No classic movie is going to pass all the ideological tests we now set for art, is it?

Boris said...

The responses to the article are far better than the article itself. The "lighten up, Francis" insertion says it all.

Gary Theroux said...

Everything "Unwoke" wrote is exactly what I was going to write. "Frasier" remains TV's all-time finest sitcom in so many ways all these years after the last frame was shot. I know Kelsey Grammer has expressed interest in reviving the series and if that happens, of course, we'll all watch -- especially if Ken is one of the contributing writers. I'm not sure,though, considering how the series ended and the characters scattered, just how the reboot would work 16 years later. The baby born to Niles and Daphe when last we saw them would be finishing high school now. One plot line which might be pursued would involce Frasier and Roz somehow reconnecting. Their relationship was the the series' one unresolved love story.

Anonymous said...

I always took those Maris comments as vast exaggerations of the "real" person. Also thought her exploits were simply fictional flights of fancy by Niles who was in an unhappy marriage. Frazier played along to support his brother. I half expected Maris to be introduced at some point in the series and that she would be the exact opposite of how she had been portrayed. That's as deep as my thinks ever go.

Daniel said...

Wow, no one remembers Carlton the doorman?

Corvus Imbrifer said...

Huh. Interesting. I agree with the article about how Maris being unreal and Lilith being real made a difference in the audience perception of the characters (and Bebe Neuwirth being amazing) but that only clarified my view of Maris: When the Cranes made fun of Maris, I didn't believe them. I guess unconsciously compared the way they spoke about Lilith to the actual Lilith and saw them exaggerating her characteristics - petty and insecure and typical - so I must have assumed when we finally saw Maris in the flesh she'd be thin. Not skeletal, just thin. As mentioned above, this successfully demonstrated something about the Cranes.

For Friday Question time: Your Experiences with Actors Who Go Behind the Cameras. (Ron Howard and Jodie Foster come to mind.)
So I'm on TCM, a funny old film comes on: "They Shall Have Music". 1939. Joel McCrea, Walter Brennen and why does the name 'Gene Reynolds' ring a bell? Who is this kid?
Imagine my surprise. What a storied career.
Any words on how an early experience as an actor informs later work as a writer, director and fill-in-the-role as he appears to have done everything?

Apologies if a repeat.

benson said...

With every passing day, two thoughts keep reinforcing in my head.

1. Jeezus, have we gotten soft.

2. We have lost our minds.

Thanks to the many commentors on today's post for at least giving me a shred of evidence, that it's not literally everyone who has lost their minds.

Unknown said...

What is really offensive, was Marty's clothes. HOW could you keep him dressed like that??? It really is an affront to men and the way we dress. TOTAL insult aimed at older men! Couldn't he have a nice tie once in awhile?
It falls in line with the whole country's ageism. Only creating plaid old guys! You could have had him wear a hat once in awhile, a hat, a simple hat, but no, all plaid. AND the button spacing on his shirts!! THEY HAD to be spaced out soo much to make him seem feeble??? You COULDN'T make them bigger buttons as a show of support for people with arthritis?

Outrage outrage outrage OUTRAGE!!!

MikeN said...

Glenn said...

Don't think I've ever seen someone reach so hard to be offended.

This is what they teach in colleges nowadays. And this author was an adjunct professor at Columbia School of Journalism

Anonymous said...

I love Maris jokes.In my opinion,I think David and Kelsey's delivery were what made those lines funny. Niles and Frasier were such pompous twits, anything they said was always so funny, and I'm not sure it would have worked with different actors. I also think it would have been a little cruel if Maris had been an actual on-screen character.Janice B.

Anonymous said...

That writer doesn't really believe in anything except self-promotion.

Step back and look at finger-pointers like her, the people who replaced real writers, journalists and essayers. They always pick the most iconic and popular things to become "disturbed" about. I don't see this woman getting all upset about "I Married Joan."

Step one is to choose a high profile target, sit back and choose the thing that offends "you" on behalf of blacks, women, gays, any of the most popular hot buttons. Does Frasier offend talk show hosts, psychologists, intellectusls? If it does, it won't get clicks.

And that's what she wants, my friends. She's working hard for the money. She's getting read. She acting a part and believes it the way anyone who sells it does.

Want to know how to make it end? Stop reading about this stuff, sharing it and discussing it. Stop making decisions based on it. This is the opinion of ONE PERSON. How many times have we really not known how many people are really finding things "problematic?" It could be a few or just one. And they scored.

Apparently the controversy about "Baby It's Cold Outside" started with a station or two and social media convinced everyone it was a big deal. Now the lyrics are being rewritten. A entiire Star Wars movie was just releasing that is loaded with careful responses to this kind of thing. One letter, a few posts. We did not take a vote on any of this.

And speaking of votes, how different is this kind of nonsense than that guy in the White House who says and does dumb things? He's a reality show star, and the press follows him everywhere. They did it during the campaign. "Normal people" don't get airtime. Common sense is boring.

Yes, I know I'm doing the same thing. I'm responding to this manipulative writer's clever new "lookie what I found" piece of dross. We fell for it again. She got published. Millions do not. But delete her. Block stupid stuff on Facebook. Report some of it as hate speech. When someone takes something like an invisible character and makes it into a possible way for men and women to dislike each other, it's hate speech.

Stop the hate by starving the leeches who spew it with dreck like this, no matter how erudite it sounds.

Anonymous said...

@ Rob D:
Heard but never seen:
Carlton the Doorman

DBenson said...

A thought: Is it easier to present insultable males on-camera than females? I recall Benson ragging on the appearance of Kraus, played by the non-ugly Inga Swenson. And "Married With Children" was packed with jokes about Peg and Marcy, both of whom looked more attractive than the scripts clearly implied (Whatever her faults, what straight man would find Peg sexually repellant?). Maybe it's TV's resistance to unattractive women in general. Lilith was meant to be revealed as gorgeous, but too often the genuinely "ordinary" girl or wife is clearly an attractive woman pretending not to be.

Do audiences laugh more when insult jokes are directed at an unseen character rather than an obese or unattractive performer standing in front of them? I watched "Wings" for years, and for all the insults lobbed at Roy I can't recall many fat jokes. They targeted the character's personality. On the flip side, an on-camera Maris who remotely resembled her description would look disturbingly anorexic. And the rest of the characters would look like jerks for mocking her.

I've noticed that elderly jokes are kind of acceptable, IF the target gets comeback lines. If appearance jokes are directed at your star, that sort of flies because we know the show is on his/her side.

Mark Potts said...

It's always interesting to see people--often academics--trying to divine the motivations of fictional characters (and their creators) when they could simply call up the creators and ask them.

Many years ago I attended the academic Pop Culture Confernce (yes, there's such a thing) where a great deal of this sort of speculation was going on. A couple of sessions, for instance, were devoted to debating whether Star Trek's Kirk and Spock were lovers, based on clues the participants thought they saw in the TV show and movies. I finally went to the guy who ran the convention and asked him why these learned professors didn't just get in touch with Gene Roddenberry (then still alive) and simply ask him. The guy looked at me, shrugged, and said, "Hey, they're English teachers. This is what they do."

Anonymous said...

What and no complaints about Norm's invisible ( except feet and calves through windows on outside stairs) wife and jokes about her?
Come on lady don't save your sympathy for the wealthy dilentante and ignore middle class wife.
Sounds like she would be one of those writers who would have embraced dismissing your life as a "passenger" while gushing over the loss of a star.

Cecil Newson said...

Wonder what the columnist would have thought of Pete Porter of December Bride. He was played by Harry Morgan long before Dragnet or M.A.S.H.

Mike Doran said...

Off-topic - or maybe not:
Just back from Mark Evanier's place, where I read of the passing of Jack Burns.
For some reason, my mind turned immediately to an appearance on Johnny Carson's show with Avery Schreiber - one which my brother and I both thought we'd never see.
This would have been in the late '60s or thereabouts, when the Burns & Schreiber LP was still fairly new.
Jack and Avery could have done the cabbie bit (they were doing it everywhere back then), but instead they performed a TV edit of the other major bit from that record - Reverend Moley ("Holy Moley!").
There was Jack in full Southern voice as the TV faith healer of your dreams, and Avery as several prospective recipients of healing: one of them was, in Avery's words,"... I'm a convoit … " - to which Jack replied "That's okay, son, I understand He was too …".
The routine had to be somewhat toned down from the LP (and Burns had to start with a disclaimer), but for NBC (even in late night) it was still pretty potent.
I guess it would be restating the obvious to point out that Rev. Moley would likely not pass muster with present-day network S&P - but I just did, didn't I?
I suppose that you might possibly be working up a regular post about Jack Burns, or maybe this remembrance might qualify as a Friday Question …
Oh well, here it is, for the record.

blinky said...

Are we going to retroactively demonize Morey Amsterdam for making fun of Mel Cooley because it is insensitive to bald people?

Marty Fufkin said...

I think it was a thoughtful article. She wasn't particularly slamming Frasier or the writers. She was still complimentary about the jokes she was analyzing. I think it was fair for her to point out that the culture at the time permitted certain types of jokes about Maris, and that attitude subconsciously seeped through and was embodied in the character. Even if you disagree with her take, it wasn't a hit job and I appreciated reading it. A valid perspective that has not changed my affection for the show.

Markus said...

I for one never expect anyone to respond, so I'm never disappointed when there is no response, but pleasantly surprised when there is one.

That said, of course I'm deeply offended by her calling Bebe Neuwirth a "richly compelling actor" - what a slap in the face of all women worldwide. Clearly Ms. Neuwirth is a richly compelling actress.

Brian said...

You’ll probably wind up as the subject of her next article: “White ‘Frasier’ Writers Mansplains Maris: Why Disagreeing With Me is a Phobia”

Seriously, though, this current idea that no female characters are allowed to have any flaws whatsoever is so frustrating. Any woman who isn’t depicted as a “strong, independent feminist” is deemed “problematic” and “offensive” to all women. As you and countless others have said, flaws make comedy, and humans by nature are imperfect. But only people narcissistic millennials don’t like are allowed to be portrayed with any negative characteristics (mainly heterosexual white males). Characters without flaws are...dull.

Jerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JonCow said...

"And "Married With Children" was packed with jokes about Peg and Marcy, both of whom looked more attractive than the scripts clearly implied (Whatever her faults, what straight man would find Peg sexually repellant?)"

Context is everything. As a comment on a comedy writer's blog, when I read "straight man" I immediately thought of Bud Abbott.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Well, in my head - and I believe David Hyde Pierce's, too - Maris was always basically DHP's high-strung, neurotic, always-dieting wife in THE POWERS THAT BE, played by Valerie Mahaffey. So she was rather more real to me than perhaps she was to most people. The jokes still didn't bother me.

But that said: attitudes towards shaming women for their bodies have changed and are continuing the change. Lilith was mocked for her personality, not her body. So there *is* a difference of some sort. I'd just look at the piece as, "A writer got paid." Writers don't get paid often enough. Hopefully, she'll be able to use the money to finance writing something more worth her time.

Chuck Lorre's sitcoms have often featured mockery of characters' body parts - on TWO AND A HALF MEN it was the size of Jake's head; on BIG BANG THEORY it was Penny's "man hands" and feet; on MOM it's the size disparity between Bonnie and Christy. I've always assumed the staff didn't dish it out to actors who would be hurt by it.


Anonymous said...

There's also Phil(?), Sophia's son referenced but never seen in The Golden Girls.


123v said...

I was simply amazed at how hard the author worked to ignore Roz, who shatters all the author's weak assertions.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

There was little mystery about "Charlie"; most people knew what John Forsythe looked like.

(To be fair, I think Forsythe was a last-minute replacement for an actor who proved unsuitable.)

Saburo said...

Way off topic here, but I'm looking at the photo accompanying this blog post and... Damn I don't think I've ever seen a cast photo featuring Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce where they look so damn alike! That Pierce wasn't even part of the show at the very beginning of production feels utterly bonkers.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Thanks for sharing the link to Ms. Garber's "Maris Article".

In one respect she was a careful writer - pretty much everything she ascribed to Maris (her wealth, physical slightness/weakness/fragility) was accurate - but my immediate thought when she cited these attributes (essentially as an opening thesis statement) was:

"Hey, she has a horrid personality and she's MEAN to Niles!"

Despite that Niles loves her (until their divorce) and yearns for her approval - which he never gets.

In my book, when you mistreat your vulnerable spouse like that, the gloves are off, and you deserve to get what coming.

I fear that the author DID overthink the Maris character (as Ken surmised) to the extent that she missed, almost completely the essential Maris - the most dislikable part of her.

(though it seems correct that Maris' deplorable personality and shabby treatment of the likeable Niles is all bound up with her upbringing and body-image)

I'll add that, I too am disappointed that Ms. Garber did not write Ken back.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Gary Theroux wrote:

One plot line which might be pursued (in a revival) would involce Frasier and Roz somehow reconnecting. Their relationship was the the series' one unresolved love story.


Much like Daphne and Niles, those two are each other's best friends - so much so that their "one-night-stand" was freighted with the fear that it would ruin their friendship (let alone their professional relationship). Not only that Fraizier followed her to her hometown to act her "beard" thus giving her the "best half hour she "ever had with her family".

This is one of my favorite Fraiser episodes.

I always figured that Roz rewarded Fraiser after the episode ended - a reboot could pick that up.

Amanda said...

I first watched Frasier when I was 8 years old (I'm 23 now) and I always lived for the Maris jokes. They were so ridiculous you had to guess some may have been exaggerated but the were always so extreme from everybody you realized it had to be factual. And never seeing her and just imaging was always so fun. Yes, she is an exaggeration of vain, self-centered (possibly in-bred--hey her sister Bri had a sandpaper tongue and only 1 nostril) types, but it clearly wasn't a deep introspective commentary. And what was she going on about 90s women for? So glad I'm technically not a millennial haha ;)

Anonymous said...

Right, because that's all he said. Good to know you can read.

blogward said...

I agree, Ken. It's not even overthinking though, it's just typical riffing on how vintage(?) comedy can be construed as malicious to contemporary sensibilities, which is easy stuff to write. Preaching to the choir. It's a credit to the show that she can find so much to riff about. 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is way more reprehensible that way.

(The same website is trying to tell you that Brexit is a conservative revolution, rather than a tax fiddle by the British government and its crew).

BTW, Mr. Ken. I wonder if you ever knew of the UK show 'Minder', 1979-1994, where Arthur Daley (George Cole)'s wife was also never seen; she was referred to as ''Er indoors', which is still a phrase in popular use today. Who coined 'I'm listening'?

Feronimouse Snood said...

Did we ever see 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' in Rumpole of the Bailey?

Busterc said...


Busterc said...

It was considered common knowledge of my mother's era, who watched the show The Powers That Be, that DPH'S Niles Crane and the former Caitlyn of that show were clearly being mocked in lovely fashion in this new venue. And, if you had that concept of that Character standing in for Maris mentally, the jokes came off as quite adorable and comedic. I recommend looking it up. Did the writers intend it? Who cares? It was a joy to fans of the TV era, which millenials will never truly understand just as those of us before them can't really go back to vaudeville humor unless we completely accept it was a different time, AND, different is ok! We all see progress, but we all need to save humor above all else. Cancel culture is not the answer.

Here's a cute compilation of the character mentioned that might help "flesh out" an idea of Maris in the grand TV land tradition of honoring shows and characters past.


MightyMogster said...

Sorry if reposting, but I keep getting frowny-face error messages, and am not sure if I'm doing it wrong or if you just hate my sense of humor :)
Ahem...After countless repeat viewings of Frasier, and months spent consulting Jung, Freud, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Joyce, McLuhan, McKenna, Philip K. Dick, and The Psychic Friends Network, I can definitively state that you are all wrong. While the creators may have believed that they were writing "jokes", in reality they were merely vessels channeling the universal subconscious, in order to give yet another form to the endlessly repeating archetypes that underly reality itself. Thus the character known as "Maris" is in fact none other than the Being That Stands At The End Of Time. The "unseen" one who sees all that has ever been or ever will be. In the Tarot, she is symbolized by IX The Hermit. She is the Past, but a past that still lies in the future, when time has reached its limit. Contrast this with "Mel" who is symbolized by the mirror opposite card, XI Justice. She is the Future, but one that lies in the past, when time first began, thus the one who is "seen" yet unable to see. This is self evident in the show, where Mel is Maris' plastic surgeon. Mel is the force that reshapes Maris, as the force of causality itself shapes the flow of time. I could elaborate further, but then there would be no need for anyone to buy my upcoming 264 volume series The Frasier Code: How a 90s Sitcom Contains the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Coming as soon as someone supports my Kickstarter!