YMMV: Everybody Loves Raymond

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The series was pretty much built on this. Any one of the five main characters can be viewed in a positive or negative way, depending on which side you choose to take.
    • Is Ray a hardworking, basically good guy whose bitch of a wife won't give him a break, or a lazy Jerkass who won't lift a finger to help at home?
    • Is Debra a bitch hypocrite who doesn't appreciate the nice life Ray has built for her, or a put-upon housewife who gets no help from anybody?
    • Is Marie a controlling, manipulative old maid, or a passionate matriarch who means well for her family?
    • Is Frank an ignorant, unappreciative asshole who is emotionally abusive to his wife and kids, or a family man who made them a damn good life?
    • Is Robert a good guy who can't catch a break, or a perpetual complainer who dug his own rut?
      • This was part of the original genius of the show. It was a groundbreaking idea at the time not to designate a hero, but rather to leave it up for interpretation and let the fans choose whose side they were on. This in turn generated a wide fanbase of all different kinds of people who liked different characters for different reasons. Most Dom Coms and sitcoms in general have followed in this path since, making it harder to realize now why ELR was so wildly popular back in the day.
  • Base Breaker: Debra. To people who can identify with her, she's a beleaguered, long-suffering heroine with the patience of a saint. But to her detractors, she's a hypocritical Smug Snake and Karma Houdini. To most, she's somewhere in between.
    • Raymond in later seasons, as he became much more callous, as well as spineless when it came to choosing between Debra and Marie.
    • Marie is one herself. Some find her to be superior to Debra as she cares more for Raymond's well-being, others find her to be too meddling and self-centered to be likable.
  • Broken Aesop:
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: In the later seasons especially, Ray, Robert, Debra, Marie and Frank are at constant odds with one another (whose on which side varies between episodes) — each an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist in their own right.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Frank, whose snarky behavior brought forth many Funny Moments.
  • Freud Was Right: Used in "Marie's Sculpture" with Marie's...rather "feminine" abstract statue.
    Marie: Oh my God, I'm a lesbian.
  • Growing the Beard: The early episodes of the show weren't bad, but the characters hadn't been fully realized yet, which meant the show was originally kind of generic, and even kind of slowly paced. However, once the show and characters found it's footing (around the end of season 1, beginning of season 2) the show became memorable, relatable and pretty consistently well written.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: When Robert comments on how he doesn't picture Frank outliving Marie. Peter Boyle died shortly after the series ended.
    • Left Back deals with the issue of Michael being held back a year and being separated from Geoffrey. In 2015, the actor who played Geoffrey killed himself, leaving his twin brother and co-star alone and grieving.
  • Informed Wrongness: Ray in some episodes of the later seasons is portrayed as being wrong no matter what, whether or not it actually makes sense. Even in episodes where Debra does the exact same thing or does something worse, Ray will inevitably be the one forced to apologize and/or the one who gets humiliated at the end of the episode.
    • For all the instances of IW on this show, "Ray's Ring" has to be the worst example. Ray was simply minding his own business in the airport when the lady hit on him, and he promptly turned her down when she did. Of course, Debra acted as though he threw the ring away on purpose and welcomed the advances of the woman.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: Initially, the sitcom was highly-touted by critics as a great new show that wasn't as popular as it deserved to be. Once the ratings started growing and the show became huge, the series was now considered an easy target for people mocking "modern sitcoms".
  • Jerkass Woobie: He was usually The Woobie, but Robert did have some Jerkass moments.
    • Ray as well. Not only does Debra become harder to live with as the series progresses, but Marie's smothering really screwed him up. For just two examples, he mentions having nightmares about a "crazy tree lady" who followed him to school (which Robert reveals was Marie), and she held him back a year in pre-school just because she liked their walks to it. And consequently, he is a lazy, whiny, immature Mama's Boy.
    • Debra, to an extent. Admittedly, part of her frustration can be traced to living opposite Raymond's parents, who drive almost everybody crazy with their intrusiveness. Unfortunately, she chooses to take it out on Raymond, who doesn't exactly care much for this setup either.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Ray for some people, particularly those who are actually married, Debra for those who are not.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The idea of having a sitcom that focused on the parents instead of the kids was a revolutionary idea at the time, which helped this show stand out. Nowadays, a lot more sitcoms focus on the adults than the kids.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Robert/Amy shippers vs. Robert/Stefania shippers.
  • Squick: From "Whose Side Are You On?", when Marie compares Ray to Frank:
    Marie: "This is a good husband! Anytime you wanna trade places just say the word. I mean, if I was forty years younger and he wasn't my son-"
    Ray: "Okay ma!"
  • Strawman Has a Point: As the seasons went on, Ray generally morphed into the show's main strawman. A lot of times the show would seemingly attempt to paint Ray's opinion as the "wrong" one, even though Ray often did have a good point.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Debra. Marie's criticisms of her can be incredibly venomous and nasty at times, to the point where we should be able to sympathise with Debra — but her own Jerkassery towards Ray often mitigates that.
  • Wangst: Debra, especially in the later seasons.
  • The Woobie: Robert as the show's resident Butt Monkey. Constantly made fun of by Ray and Frank, neglected by Marie as a child, divorced, and constantly trying and failing to get away from his parents. Perhaps the hardest episode to watch for a Robert fan is the one where Marie, Judy, Stephania and Amy force him to sit down and listen as they discuss every single character flaw they can think of, even if they aren't actually flaws and are just things about him they personally dislike.