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YMMV / Everybody Loves Raymond

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  • 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 nag 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 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 Ray really the favorite or does Marie just think he's too weak to function on his own? Does she dismiss Robert's success as a cop because she's so worried for his safety? Or is he simply a pawn in her manipulations?
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    • 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 and did better than his physically abusive father and grandfather?
    • 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-Breaking Character:
    • 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.
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    • 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 Base: Depending on who you ask, "Bad Moon Rising" is either the best episode in the series or the worst episode in the series. The same could also be said for "Marie's Sculpture" and "The Faux Pas," albeit to a lesser extent.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: In the later seasons especially, Ray, Robert, Debra, Marie and Frank are at constant odds with one another (who's on which side varies between episodes) — each an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist in their own right.
  • Designated Villain: Jerry Musso in "Somebody Hates Raymond". While definitely arrogant, he nonetheless doesn't even dislike Ray personally; the former just doesn't find the latter's work entertaining, something which falls under freedom of opinion instead of anything actually evil, and though he does come across as rather harsh towards Ray when forced to tell the truth, it's mostly because he loses patience with Ray nagging him about the reason for his disliking. Furthermore, Musso has every right to decide who's allowed to guest-host his show and who's not. Nevertheless, the episode seemingly vilifies him as someone so bad that even Robert, himself at odds with Ray throughout most of the episode, is ultimately appalled enough to give him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech for Ray's sake (granted, it is awesome and heartwarming at the same time, though).
    • However, even though Musso does have a right to not like Ray, and despite the fact that he was polite to Ray before admitting the truth, it should be noted that he also told Ray that he should be the co-host of his show, while completely denying that he wasn't a fan of Ray's. With that said, Robert may not have been justified in standing up to Musso so much because he hated Ray as because of his insincerity about the whole matter, as while Musso did try to be nice, it may as well have been a setup to humiliate Ray in the future, which, judging by Musso's attitude, may not have been very beneath him.
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Frank, whose snarky behavior brought forth many Funny Moments.
  • Funny Aneurysm: In one episode, there is a rather unpleasant scene where Ray tells Debra that he found out that their daughter Ally has been bullying a classmate on the school bus. Debra shrugs it off, saying she doesn't think it's a big deal and that it's just kids being kids. When Ray asserts that bullying is indeed a big deal and notes that he and Robert are still scarred from their own experiences, Debra smirks and calls him a wuss, and then starts calling Ray names while the studio audience laughs, this scene is considerably less funny today due to the rash of bullying-related suicides and murders over the past few years.
    • One episode revealed that Debra (and Marie) would tell their kids to think less of their fathers and covertly try to make themselves as the more adored and likeable parent. The episode treats this as a sneaky but wacky act on Debra's part (she pokes fun at Ray's inability to tell when she's gotten a new haircut, or how he's not always zipped up), but more serious on Marie's part (she derided Frank and told her young son how she couldn't understand how anyone can live with him). In real life, this is called Parental Alienation Syndrome, and is found in many mean-spirited and bitter divorces.
    • Jokes about Ray's big nose or nasally voice don't seem quite so funny when you see the finale and find out Ray's adenoids need to be removed.
    • In the episode "Fairies", Ray feels uncomfortable after hearing about Michael and Geoffrey being cast as the eponymous fairies in a school play but changes his tune when the twins chose to play fairies, Ray's initial attitude would be perceived as insensitive towards unconventional gender roles by today's standards.
  • 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 its 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, with Doris Roberts surviving him by a whole decade.
    • 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.
    • Also, when Robert and Amy are about to have sex for the first time in "Robert Moves Back," Robert tells his pet dog Shamsky to "beat it." The dog is then never seen again after this scene.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: A running joke in the series is how Debra is a bad cook. Debra's actress, Patricia Heaton, would later go on to host a cooking show, which would win an Emmy award for Outstanding Culinary Program.
  • 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.
  • MST3K Mantra: If you start to pick the series apart, it becomes painfully obvious that 99% of the show's conflicts can be easily resolved...for instance, simply locking the goddamn doors would keep the elder Barones out of the house. That being said, there is obviously no comedy in that.
    • "I Wish I Were Gus" is one of the biggest offenders here. There was no reason in the world that Marie couldn't have gone to the funeral and ignored Alda, but Rule of Funny dictated that they HAD to sit in the same pew.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Ray for some people, particularly those who are actually married, Debra for those who are not.
  • Seasonal Rot: Most fans would agree that the series had definitely run its course by the final couple seasons. The writers were clearly grasping at straws by this point, as seen in the heavy flanderization of Ray and Debra. It didn't help that Peter Boyle, who played Ensemble Dark Horse Frank, was in seriously failing health by the show's end and had lost much of the comedic timing that made the character so funny.
  • "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.
    • Frank, of all people, can fall into this as well. For example, in "Pet the Bunny", Frank becomes outraged when Ray adds a story of him petting Ray's childhood bunny to his eulogy. While Frank is portrayed negatively for his behavior, Ray really had no right to mention Frank's private affairs to others without his permission, and the rest of his family, especially Marie, treats the story like it's everybody's business, even after Frank had made it clear he doesn't care to remember it.
  • 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 sympathize with Debra — but her own Jerkassery towards Ray often mitigates that.
    • Robert. He might have gotten a raw deal of being the unfavorite to Ray, but some of his resentment towards him can be unnecessarily mean. At one point he admits that he sometimes prays to God for Ray to fail. And was actually happy when he does.
  • Values Dissonance: The show made a big deal out of Robert living with his parents into his forties. Thanks to the Great Recession, which we're still feeling to an extent today, the idea of someone living with their parents to save money doesn't seem so odd.
    • Frank's sexism and homophobia were generally Played for Laughs and shrugged off as the musings of an ignorant old man. These scenes can be somewhat cringe-inducing 15-20 years later, notably the episode where he implied that he would disown Robert if Robert turned out to be gay. However, Frank could also be a case of Fair for Its Day, given that he was from the same generation as Archie Bunker but was nowhere near as nasty and intolerant.
  • Wangst: Robert's frequent bitching and moaning about how charmed Ray 's life is, and about his own problems in general often dips into this territory, especially since a lot of what Robert complains about is a) very petty or b) his own fault. But even when he's complaining about stuff that isn't either of those two things the way that he whines makes you want to smack him in the face rather than give him a hug.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: When Debra forced Ray into going to marriage counseling, it could have been a great opportunity to explore Debra's faults and emotional problems, especially her lack of interest in sex. Instead, it turned out to be a pretty standard episode with Ray moping and complaining until everything is finally swept under the rug at the end of the episode.
  • 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.


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