Black people watch ‘Cheers’

The most viewed posts  on this blog are the ones that have  the word ‘black’ in their titles. So I’ve taken note. Haha.

Now to the subject at hand: Cheers was a fantastic show. For the TV buff, this is neither new nor especially interesting news.  So I apologize for the obvious statements that will henceforth be made about this great, great, classic show.

Back when I was in middle school, my whole family would sit and watch The Cosby Show on Friday nights. And at 9:00pm on the dot, Cheers would come on. And I hated it, simply because it wasn’t The Cosby Show. Of course, I never took the time to actually watch the show, because I never had to. My mother would always change the channel.  But even if I had the choice, I had already made up my mind to despise it. All the white people looking pale and blandly lit in their faded, ill-fitting ’80s clothes. The opening credits with the portraits of random people that weren’t actually in the show. And of course, there was the fact that the whole thing took place in a bar. 

That was then. Now, after extensive impromptu pop culture lessons, courtesy of E! True Hollywood and VH1 documentaries during long, interminable summers, I now know that Cheers was an institution, one of those shows that both critics and audiences loved in equal measure–an increasing rarity. The sexual tension between Sam and Diane was legendary. Kelsey Grammer was made on the show. Time ranked Cheers among the top 100 TV shows of all time. I’ve watched episodes intermittently since then, but this summer I’ve decided to watch the whole series from the pilot to the finale.

And let me tell you, so far,  it is so worth the hype.

Cheers was clever without being condescending, funny without being stupid, and realistic without being grim. One of the early episodes, for example, has regular bar attendee Norm freaking out because he elected himself party chair for his accounting company. He’s fired at the end of the episode because he stopped his boss from making advances at Diane, a waitress at Cheers. As he sits at the bar, he launches into a speech: “You know something? I may not have a job, I may not have a future, I may not have anything except this sheet on my back”–the modern day TV viewer waits for the cliched ‘but I’m proud of what I did,’ or some other platitude  to that effect. Instead Norm says, “and you know something…I feel terrible. ” And that, my friends, is what makes Cheers so great.

Also, Ted Danson was smokin’.

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One Comment on “Black people watch ‘Cheers’”

  1. KXB says:

    Plenty of black people watched “Cheers”, for the same reason plenty of white people watched “The Cosby Show” – characters people could relate to, regardless of color. On Cheers you had an alcoholic former jock (Sam), the lovable, but absent-minded grandfather figure (Coach), the know it all who that she was too good for her crowd (Diane), the guy who lives with his mom (Cliff), and the barfly who just wants to be left alone with his beer (Norm). They had job issues, romance problems, annoying kids, aggravating spouses – who can’t relate to that?

    Yes, it did have an all white cast, but it was not a “white” show in the sense that “Friends” was clearly a white show – specifically a show about 20-something white singles who never work about money. If you did not fall into that demographic, you probably could not relate to Friends.


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