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Cheers, 25 Years Later, Still Holds Up

The sitcom Cheers ran for 11 seasons, beginning in 1982. Its series finale aired 25 years ago. Though culture has changed tremendously over that time span, the show still holds up all these years later.

(Photo Credit: famefocus.com)

 

In 1993, the series finale of Cheers aired on television. The legendary sitcom ran for 11 seasons and nearly 300 episodes, accumulating hundreds of awards nominations along the way. Cramming more than 25 episodes into every season seems outlandish today, but it was par for the course in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Rather than hampering the show 25 years later, though, that extensive library still holds up rather well to current viewing.

I recently watched the entirety of Cheers, viewing the series finale (now offered in three parts) 25 years after it originally aired. Though the show has problems, there is far more good here than bad, even accounting for changing tastes and opinions. A lot is different now than it was in ’93, or 1982, when the show first began. But funny remains funny, and great comedy holds up.

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Sam Malone is a questionable boss and bad business man, but he is a tremendous TV character. The reason Ted Danson continues to be a comedy star in 2018 is evident in the way Sam weaves his honesty with his brackishness. Sam also withstood the test of 11 seasons. He felt like one of the only characters that didn’t become the worst version of itself, even if he did begin to lose his hair. By the end, Norm had become selfish and borderline vile, whereas he was charming and adorable for so many years. Carla and Woody kept getting meaner and dumber, respectively. Even Rebecca, though not a character in the early seasons, wore out her welcome, becoming some combination of self-centered masochist and outright moron.

The reason the final run of Cheers sticks in my craw, though, is because of how good the show really was for more than 200 episodes. Sam mentioned in the finale that Cheers was not his friends’ home, but the characters sure felt like a family. Coach transitioned perfectly into Woody. Diane left, and her essence was replaced by Rebecca, taking the show in a new direction. Even as Norm jabbed and Carla ridiculed and Sam pranked, they all looked out for each other. Frasier was one of the lynch pins in this. He was often the butt of jokes or target of pranks, but he took joy in becoming one of the guys. He also didn’t become a caricature by the end, which only makes sense. Not only was that character well thought out and well written, but he was fresh enough to warrant his own highly successful spin-off.

 

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The issues with Cheers are sparse but obvious. Misogynistic tendencies are sprinkled throughout the series. They pop up when Sam threatens to physically hurt Diane or numerous characters treat Rebecca as an object to acquire. The misogyny likely didn’t even register to ’90s audiences, but it can be felt today. Carla’s own objectifying of men is a nice balancing act that was used to poke fun at the former. But neither comes off that great.

And then there’s the fact that the show certainly hung on too long, to its own artistic detriment. Decades ago, ratings were king. Shows would continue to air as long as they continued to bring in an audience. The landscape is vastly different now, with so many more factors going into a single decision. The 11th season of Cheers felt like a ratings grab. It wasn’t that actors were going through the motions. Instead, the writers were just flinging stuff against the wall and taking the characters as far as they could go. Rebecca becomes a complete mess of a person; there is another battle with Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern; Lilith goes to live underground; broke Robin returns; there is yet another battle with Gary; Woody becomes a city councilman.

The return of Diane Chambers would fit on this list of inane plots if it didn’t double as the final storyline of the series. The series finale itself was a pleasant wrap on the show and a nice rebound from a bumpy season. It was nice to see Shelley Long again, especially after the show characters threw a barb her way in a riff about Godzilla movies and actresses leaving successful products for the unknown. There was an enjoyable piece of closure to the entire series, and there are upwards of 250 quality episodes of television in the run of Cheers. That type of quantity wouldn’t be matched, or even attempted, today, and it’s amazing that the batch holds up to rewatching all these years later.

 

 

Connect with our Writer:

Todd Salem is a Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also the New York Giants Lead Writer at Pro Football Spot, a Staff Writer for NFL Spinzone, and a Featured Columnist at College Sports Madness, among others. Follow him on Twitter.

 

Additional Cheers photo courtesy of pagesix.com

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