life, thoughts, writing

TV with a Heart

From wikimedia

 I kept myself out of the show because I loved it and didn’t want to ruin it. ~ Phil Rosenthal

Have you heard of, or seen, the show Everybody Loves Raymond? The television series is no longer running new episodes (since 2005), but the reruns are shown in syndication. Yes, I know that not everybody loves Raymond, but I do. It now equals my other longtime number one favorite, The Dick Van Dyke Show.

I’m obsessed with the show Raymond and its writing. I write memoirs and fiction, not scripts, but I can appreciate the genius writing on Raymond.  There is much I could learn from them in my own writing. Their fictional characters are so distinctive and well-rounded. For me, it’s the characters that carry the plot line on each episode.

I found interviews with the writers of these shows. Each of them said the same thing … they wrote their episodes out of something that really happened in their lives. Of course, as a writer, I know stories must be embellished with fiction intertwined. However, their stories have heart because the writer’s dealt with the same life issues.

I have many questions for them about different episodes and characters. Who came up with the Robert chin-touch and what made them think of it? Who came up with the personalities for the MacDougalls? For Amy? Does Marie know she is manipulative, or is she oblivious to it because she’s offering her help?

Another favorite show of mine is Sex and the City. The casual sex thing is not my style, so I didn’t think I would enjoy the show. After watching only one episode, I was hooked! Those female friends resonated with me to my very core. The show had heart, and the personalities distinct. It depicted human beings who were dealing with life and relationships the best they knew how, human foibles and all.

I didn’t think I’d be able to relate to the show Modern Family either. Sure enough, those distinctive characters made me laugh, and touched my heart all at the same time. Cam, cracks me up.

I enjoyed Seinfeld in its time, but it never had heart. The show did make me laugh, but in the final two-part episode(s) the writers let us know, that they knew, their characters had no heart. Real people do.

In my own novel and short story writing, I’m learning to create strong characters who can carry my plot lines. I’m not quite there yet, so I guess I’ll just have to keep watching reruns of Raymond.

I thank God for the show Everybody Loves Raymond. It kept me sane by getting me to laugh at my own dysfunction. Sometimes I laughed and cried at the same time, because I related all too closely to Debra. Phil Rosenthal (the creator & writer), is the first person that ever made me feel completely understood.

P.S. All time favorite Raymond line. Debra is talking to Marie, and I’ve since used this same line on my own mother-in-law.
Debra: “Marie, when I speak, what is it you hear? Is it … is it like backwards talk or dolphin squeaks?”

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20 thoughts on “TV with a Heart”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this post, only because the show is a bit part of my life haha I just watched the episode Frank The Writer and it’s been on my mind. You’ve probably seen? Frank submits a “joke” to the Readers Digest and they print it, and he turns into a writer, submitting a manuscript (column) to Ray’s newspaper’s editor. Anyway, it’s funny and very genuine all around, the transformation Frank goes through because of the writing. In the end Ray tells Frank that the editor said his writing was “amateurish” and it broke Frank’s heart. And mine too. Am I amateurish? That’d be embarrassing haha

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    1. Gosh Pete, I could talk about this show all the time. Yes, I remember that episode. It seemed to me that he wanted recognition from his son. Once he got it, he seemed to feel better. As far as your writing goes, amateurish never crossed my mind. I look forward to reading your stuff and consider it an honor when you comment about mine.

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        1. Don’t worry, I didn’t think you were fishing. Just thought I’d let you know. And yes, I do understand relating to Frank. I related to the one where Ray’s friend Andy got published by Sports Illustrated and Ray couldn’t get them to even look at his stuff. 🙂

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        2. Oh, and btw, as a woman, a wife and a daughter-in-law, I most relate to the episodes where Marie & Debra clash. My favorites are the ones where they aren’t speaking. Heh.

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  2. We haven’t had a TV in several years–and I haven’t watched many of these shows–OK, yes, Dick Van Dyke–but I like that you are using your TV-viewing to help you hone your writing skills. Smiling at the last line you shared. Dolphin squeaks!

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  3. I’m a fan of Everybody Loves Raymond, too. I think I relate to the middle class setting, the marital tug-of-wars, and definitely to the parents who live so nearby. (Mine are a block away, and not nearly as intrusive as Ray’s parents. But I get it!) And you’re right. It’s the depiction of real life issues that makes this a show that stays close to our hearts.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience and relation to the show, Terri. I grew up one mile away from my grandparents, and my grandma used to walk write in just like Marie does to Debra. It used to aggravate my mom (and it was her own mom). We’re Italian as well.The show makes me feel like I’m home. Always good to see you here, Terri.

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  4. I watch it every day actually and you’re right, the writing is excellent and the characters are so well drawn. I actually watched the Pilot the other day on TVLAND.com and Robert was chin touching already haha I laugh so hard I think cause the humor reminds me of my upbringing. The show and stories have a warmth to them that just resonates with me.

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    1. I know, the show makes me feel like I’m home. I get such a comfortable and happy feeling when I watch. I actually wrote to the creator of the show and asked him where they came up with the Robert chin-touch. I’m curious who thought of such distinctive characteristics and why. Thanks for reading this, Pete. Always good to see you here.

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  5. Everybody Loves Raymond – that was a brilliant show .. they show at the moment over here again – just love it. Sex and the City .. also one of my favorite – really good .. when woman behave and think like men and get away with it. Modern Family and Seinfeld have never clicked with me … Golden Girls is an other one – also being sent over here. 2 1/2 men is one of my absolute favorite but it has to be with Sheen. Then the UK 2 grand ladies – Hyacinth Buckets and The Vicar of Dibley – plus Men Behave Badly and Fools and Horses, when it’s all about men. The rest we can forget. *laughter.

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