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Bit TV Review: Cheers (1982 – 1993)

The genre of US Sitcom is a common television program that airs now. E4 is a platform for such Sitcoms as The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and many other constant re-runs of these programs. The most recognised Sitcom by much of today, is of course Friends. Almost every person has heard of the program, and perhaps seen at least one episode when E4 used to show its re-runs. Now it has moved to Comedy Central in the UK but is still as popular as ever on the channel. One of the shows prominent directors James Burrows, was recently honoured which brought the gang, almost, back together. At this event, Burrows was also honoured for another Sitcom; Cheers. Cheers was co-created by Burrows, Glen and Les Charles, and the show became one of the most popular and longest running sitcoms of all times airing from 1982 to 1993. Cheers itself spawned two spin-off Sitcoms, one of which, Frasier, was incredibly successful and received acclaim of its own.

So where can you find the bar where everyone knows your name? The show airs in the UK but on UK GOLD and CBS Drama occasionally, so if you only have access to Freeview channels then you will miss out. Cheers is set in a bar in Boston, USA, and revolves around the workers and regulars of the bar. The characters involve Sam ‘Mayday’ Malone (Ted Danson) who is an ex-athlete, owner and bartender of Cheers, Carla (Ria Perlman) who is a feisty, short, witty waitress with way too many children, Norm (George Wendt) who is the regular who comes across as a passive and uncaring but shows at moments he is a genuine guy. A primary cast member from season one to five was Diane (Shelley Long) who is an outsider to Cheers, but begins as a waitress after being dumped. Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) rounds up the primary cast of the first season as a former coach who acts as a parental figure to everyone despite being ditsy. Of course, Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) is a huge part of the gang and despite being in almost every episode of the first season, he wasn’t bumped up to main cast member until season two. Throughout the eleven seasons, there were many main cast changes but Norm, Carla, Sam and Cliff remained characters in the show until the finale and even made special appearances in Frasier.

I found Cheers by pure coincidence, switching through many channels and leaving one on through default. The episode I first watched was luckily from the first season, and called “The Boys in the Bar” and revolves around Sam’s former colleague who comes out as gay. The episode focuses on Sam finally being understanding and supportive, as the rest of the bar are. Most of the critique of the episode from the time argued that it was too ‘liberal’ but it won “The Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Artists in the Entertainment Industry” (AGLA) and has been praised for its real depiction of homosexuals. The episode aired in 1983 and took a huge risk, as the ratings of the first season hadn’t been great, so bad to the point where it almost got cancelled. After this episode, the show began to improve ratings and eventually went on to become very popular.

It has soon become one of my favourite Sitcoms as they weren’t afraid to take risks and even throughout eleven seasons, managed to stay on top. It’s a show that has been parodied and homaged to by many different shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy. Some of the humour can seem dated and too cheesy at moments, but once that theme song plays and you know it; I challenge you not to sing along.

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