I have been watching a surprising (to me) number of Frasier re-runs lately. This classic 90s sitcom is being aired on the Hallmark Channel late at night in huge blocks - we're talking four or five hours of Frasier episodes at a time. I boggle at the 90s-ness of it, while at the same time being surprised at how many of the episodes I remember.
It seems only fitting that one of the biggest shows of the 1990s sprang from one of the biggest shows of the 1980s. Frasier was a spin-off of Cheers, although it only occasionally referred back to the source show. The eponymous Frasier Crane was a perfect figure of the 1990s: super rich, for no apparent reason, and with the finest tastes in everything. Although the show often poked fun at the Crane boys, it also reveled in their snobbery.
(And how did those guys get so rich, when their dad was just a city cop? I can assure you, even a psychiatrist isn't making big money these days. It was just one of those convenient fictions we overlooked when watching the show. Frasier and Niles Crane are rich; end of story.)
The first and most obvious 1990s-ness of the show is that it is focused on a radio broadcaster. Even in the 1990s, radio was on the way out. These days, I doubt you could make a television show about a radio personality, aside from that wonderful South Park episode where Eric Cartman becomes his school's Glenn Beck, "Dances With Smurfs." (And even he has already left the media.) I also love it whenever Niles uses his cell phone: it's an old style Motorola, where you flip out the flap that covers the keypad, then extend the antenna. Remember when cell phones had antennas you had to pull out? Hilarious!
Frasier also famously launched the popularity of the Jack Russell Terrier. Which is kind of a pity, really, because it is one of my least favorite dog breeds. (I am sure there are perfectly nice Jack Russell Terriers out there, but all the ones I have ever met have been super obnoxious, with obnoxious human owners to boot.)
The city of Seattle is very much a character in the show, which is also endearingly 1990s. Seattle was just hitting the big scene then, from coffee to grunge music, we were all the rage.
Frasier ran from 1993 all the way to 2004, long after its time had passed. But it will always be a time capsule of the 90s to me.