Published On: Tue, Nov 7th, 2023

Why do new moms gravitate toward pld Frasier episodes?

Why do new moms gravitate toward pld Frasier episodes?
Why do new moms gravitate toward pld Frasier episodes?

For the first year of my daughter’s life, I couldn’t fall asleep at night without consuming at least one episode of “Frasier.” (And by “fall asleep,” I mean the 45-minute stretch I enjoyed until baby screams viciously woke me from a “Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs” stupor.) As an outline of the Seattle skyline danced across my TV, I knew that for the next 22 minutes, I would be spending time with grown-ups (plus the Jack Russell terrier Eddie), engaged by proxy in what was likely to be my first adult conversation of the day, and comforted by the fact that my TV friends’ most pressing problems would involve a mad dash to make the late dinner seating at Le Cigare Volant.

The more I confessed to friends/strangers I cornered at the park that I craved the Cranes to fall asleep, the more I discovered that other millennial moms had the same postpartum addiction to Frasierland. None of us had been old enough to appreciate the show when it originally aired in the mid-’90s/early aughts, but “Frasier” played in the background of our childhoods, erroneously categorized by our tween/teen brains as a ‘boring show for adults about an old (gasp, 41-year-old) man, who lives in a den of beige.’

Oh, how we were wrong. I finally recognized the genius of “Frasier in my 20s, but the bingeing and true fan-girl behaviors didn’t start until mid-30s motherhood; and with the “Frasier” reboot now out, I started to wonder why moms, particularly in the first years postpartum, might gravitate toward the show. After speaking with some of them (seriously, there is a community of us robust enough to validate my dreams of a FrasierMomCon), the picture of why “Frasierappeals to new(ish) mothers came into focus.

Emily Kunkel, a 37-year-old from City Island in the Bronx, started not only watching, but listening to Frasier at night to fall asleep after the birth of her first child. “In early postpartum, it often feels as if you are living on a different planet from the rest of the world,” she told me. “You are entirely devoted to the basic care required to keep this new, small person alive. (A person your brain knows you just met, but your body would somehow maul a bear for.)”

For many moms, dwelling in this postpartum nest is miraculous in many ways, but it can also be isolating and boring — especially for moms like me who were postpartum during the height of the pandemic. “Frasierhowever, tricks isolated parents into believing we’ve met our adult conversation quota for the day.

“Frasier is such a grown-up! He has a great apartment, a sweet sherry setup, and job security (well, until Season 6); he wears suits by day and coordinated pajama/robe sets by night, subscribes to every cultural institution in Seattle, and throws dinner parties that people wear heels to,” Kunkel says.

So while millennial moms may not be physically seated at Cafe Nervosa, we can still enjoy witty conversations derived from a specific kind of adult life we hope to one day experience again or anew.

Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that children are rare on the show, offering a delightful mental and emotional break from what new moms face at home. Sure, Frasier’s son Freddy stops by occasionally, but he’s 5 going on 50. Instead, the juvenile on “Frasiercomes to us through slapstick comedy, and even if you’re not a big fan of physical humor, you have to respect how well the form is deployed. Watching “Frasier” in the Season 5 episode “The Proposal” make a soaring leap across the room to tackle a royal trumpeter is five seconds of TV I re-watched about 20 times, at one point propping my newborn baby up against several pillows so that she could begin to internalize this master class in physical comedy, timing and the classic “Frasierblend of highbrow, lowbrow, and ironic highbrow. Once you become a parent, you realize how much slapstick simply exists in daily life with a baby or toddler. Getting ready to go out for a walk with your baby for the first time? It’s basically Niles’ wordless Valentine’s Day lazzi with the ironing board.

As we moms sit among piles of toys and laundry, Frasier’s apartment is also a balm to our weary souls. We all know that apartment was the real star of that show, and watching it is pure organizational and design bliss. Sensory overload is par for the course with touched-out moms, so it makes sense that we’d relish lying in a dark, momentarily quiet room, pushing aside thoughts of whether today is the day we’ll shower as we listen to Frasier tell a date his sofa is “an exact replica of the one Coco Chanel had in her Paris atelier.” I often complain that TV shows do a huge disservice to my mental health by always showing such tidy homes, but in this period of domestic chaos, I enjoyed being temporarily transported to a world of postmodern aesthetic calm and order.

Katie Silversmith, a 37-year-old mom from St. Louis was one of those rare tweens who appreciated “Frasierduring its original run. “I loved how spunky and bold Roz and Daphne were. They weren’t afraid to speak their minds, tell their bosses they were being ridiculous, or stand up for what they believed in. Although Frasier centered around the lives of Frasier and Niles, the show has serious girl power vibes that spoke to my prepubescent, Spice-Girl-loving self.”

Of course, there are problematic elements to “Frasier(constant jabs at Roz’s apparently egregious sexuality, the occasional displays of benevolent sexism from the Crane boys), but on the whole, any millennial watching “Frasiercan appreciate the respect shown for women on the show. From seeking life partners equal in intellect and cultural savvy (Lillith, and Claire — oh Claire!), to a true friendship like the one between Frasier and Roz — especially during the season Roz adjusts to becoming a new mother. In postpartum, watching Frasier show up for Roz as a single mom is a great comfort.

I can’t think of another show, especially a comedy, that acknowledges the centrality and importance of good mental health in everyday life. Of course the writers poke plenty of fun at the field of psychiatry. But it’s soothing and subconsciously impactful when you see conversations about mental well-being normalized and taking place regularly among Frasier and his family, friends and callers, especially when you don’t have much time to reflect or think about yourself during the non-“Frasier hours.

Watching “Frasierpostpartum can be a restorative act itself. “You know the rhythm, you know the outcome, you know the setup and knock down that will come based on every character’s knowable and lovable foibles,” Kunkel said. “Almost every episode has a very satisfying end, and ‘satisfaction’ is in short supply during the early months [of motherhood] when you’re feeling so often like you just don’t have the hang of this new life.”

At his heart, Frasier is a character who is always, ardently, often hilariously incorrectly, trying to do the right thing. And that’s exactly the energy you want to welcome into your postpartum cocoon. The baby may be crying, you may be reckoning with unprecedented, permanent shifts to your hormones, identity and lifestyle, but Frasier is there — and he’s listening.

Julie Kling is a writer based in (a very boring suburb of) New York City; her work has appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Wall Street Journal, and more.

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