‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ but Actually No One Should!

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Family sitcoms were beloved for their relatable problems and everyday humor, providing a feel-good experience in just 30 minutes or less.
  • Sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond showcased flawed characters, including Ray Barone, who often treated his troubled brother Robert poorly.
  • Ray’s disrespect towards his wife Debra, failing to appreciate her and help with chores, created conflicts and showcased his self-centered nature, despite his genuine love for her.


There was a time when family sitcoms ruled TV. You can trace it all the way back to the 1950s and shows like Leave It to Beaver to see where our love affair with simple comedies surrounding the family dynamic started. Family sitcoms were easy to digest. We could relate to the problems, we could find humor in the smallest everyday moments, and it made us feel good to see the family work through their drama in 30 minutes or less, always coming out the other side with a group hug and a lesson learned.

Of course, sitcoms have changed throughout the decades. Married… With Children showed just how twisted a family could get. Something like Seinfeld, while not a traditional family, still involved four people who depended on each other, even if they would never admit it. Sitcoms got more snarky, the characters a little more selfish. Everybody Loves Raymond was the best of both worlds, with the look of something from the ’80s and the tone of more modern sarcastic fare. Its titular character, Ray Barone (Ray Romano), was the center of attention, but the more horrible he could be, the more you had to ask why anyone put up with him at all.

Everybody Loves Raymond

The comical everyday life of sports columnist Ray Barone and his dysfunctional family.

Release Date
September 13, 1996

Cast
Ray Romano , Patricia Heaton , Doris Roberts , Peter Boyle , Brad Garrett

Main Genre
Comedy

Seasons
9

Network
CBS


Ray Often Teases His Troubled Brother Robert

To be critical of Ray Barone’s behavior is not to belittle Everybody Loves Raymond. It’s one of the best modern sitcoms and deserves every accolade it ever received. The only true negative of the show is that they went back to the same well way too often, with so many episodes revolving around Ray doing something inconsiderate, to the joy of the studio audience, and then, funny as it was, having to find a way to get out of it and find forgiveness.

Some of Ray’s worst behavior is saved for his older brother, Robert (Brad Garrett). If there’s anyone that should be treated with kindness, it’s Robert. His dysfunctional family has left him more messed up than anyone else. His father, Frank (Peter Boyle), is a loud and angry man quick to criticize and belittle. You’re not going to get much love from him. His mother, Marie (Doris Roberts), is obsessed with the baby of the family, Ray. In her eyes, he is perfect and can do no wrong. She is blind to his flaws, and anything bad that befalls him must be someone else’s fault. What makes it worse is that she’s the exact opposite with Robert. He’s the invisible one, despite the fact that Brad Garrett is 6’9″. That leaves Robert a very quirky, self-conscious man, his love life a mess, and living at home. Day after day, he sees Ray get the love he doesn’t. He can only grumble and moan, “Everybody loves Raymond.”

While Ray might not like how overprotective his mother is, he loves the attention. He wouldn’t know what to do without his mother always telling him how great he is. It’s made him feel that he can do and get away with anything. That doesn’t mean that Ray is a horrible person, just not a thoughtful one. He rips on Robert constantly, either making fun of his size or his oddities. Some of that’s just normal brother stuff, but there are also some deep insecurities there. When Robert helps Ray get his wife, Debra (Patricia Heaton), a thoughtful gift for Christmas, Ray has to take all the credit for it. When he lies to get out of hanging out with Robert, his brother, a cop, takes an extra shift, only to get gored by a bull. The cruelest moment, however, sees Ray threatened by how much his kids like their uncle, maybe even more than their dad. Ray lashes out, telling Robert he has no family and no life. Even for Ray, it crosses the line.

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Ray’s Disrespect for His Wife Leads to Constant Conflict

Debra and Ray on 'Everybody Loves Raymond'
Image via CBS

You’re stuck with the family you’re born into, but we choose who we marry. The woman who chose to spend the rest of her life with Ray is Debra, your traditional strong, smart, stay-at-home mom who just wants help with the chores and to be appreciated. It’s not much to ask for, but Ray fails often. Some of it is laziness, stuff we see in sitcoms so often that it’s expected. It’s damn near a trope, the husband being a lazy dolt, the put-upon wife who can only shake her head. It’s portrayed in humorous ways, though in real life the joke would probably run its course quickly. Ray doesn’t help out cooking, but he’s quick to insult Debra’s efforts. Ray doesn’t help out with the kids much, despite the fact that Debra has been home with them all day while he’s out, working his dream job of being a sports writer. He spends too much time laying on the couch watching TV, he likes to golf on the weekends, he teases too much and pays attention too little.

Sometimes Ray goes too far, thinking only of himself and how things affect him, rather than what might help his wife or make her happy. In “A Vote For Debra,” his wife runs for the school board president. She’s smart and qualified. On top of that, it’ll get her out of the house and allow her to socialize with adults and feel like she’s making a difference. Ray doesn’t like it. If Debra isn’t home, that means he can’t just watch TV. He’ll have to take care of the kids and be there for their every need. To prevent this, Ray votes against her.

Ray does other things as well, like the often seen taping over the wedding video moment. It may have been done often, but it doesn’t make it at any less mean to erase such a beautiful memory. That horrible trait Ray has of not paying attention gets him in trouble often. When Debra takes too long to get dressed up to go to a special event, he leaves her behind and goes by himself. It’s funny to see the trouble he gets in when he gets back, but he doesn’t deserve laughs. His wife never gets to go out, now she’s dressed up and feeling beautiful and excited, and the guy who can go out anytime ditches her. Another episode, “What Good Are You?” sees Debra having a coughing fit. Instead of making sure she’s okay, Ray gets annoyed and turns up the TV, completely oblivious to the fact that his wife is choking.

‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Finds Ways To Redeem Ray Barone

If Everybody Loves Raymond was a darker sitcom, Debra would have left Ray behind, and we could have watched him in seasons all alone as a divorced man, similar to what Robert had to go through in the early seasons. It can be hard to watch now, how horrible Ray is, but how he gets away with it because he’s dumb or charming or doesn’t know any better.

What saves Ray is that, like any traditional sitcom, he always sees the error of his ways. He apologizes, even if he’s not good with words. We see how much he truly loves Robert and Debra, and even his parents, who he ridicules as well. Everybody Loves Raymond shows just how much Ray loves Debra so often in moments that are good for laughs but true. It’s another trope, the man in bed at the end of the night wanting to get intimate with his wife, only to get rejected because she’s not in the mood or tired. Ray might not be a romantic, but he would never cheat. He still looks at Debra, who he’s been with so long, and sees a beautiful woman. He’s still crazy about being with her physically and cherishes every second he can get.

Ray hasn’t had the best time in life either. Seeing how his parents are, it’s not a surprise that he’s so bad at displaying emotion or putting others first. He never learned how. It’s in there though. The last best example is reserved for the series finale, when Ray has a minor surgery, only for the doctor to come out and tell Debra that they’re having trouble waking her husband up. She weeps into Robert’s arms, her mind going to the worst, before another doctor comes out and tells her Ray is okay. The incident is played for laughs, with what happened being kept away from Ray and his mother both because they won’t be able to handle it. Debra sits in bed staring at Ray with the deepest of love, watching him eat ice cream, before Frank confesses to Marie what happened, leading to her running into the house and jumping into her son’s bed to hold him. Ray is then told what happened to him. He’s scared, then almost gleeful, smiling about how worried they must have been and making a joke about Deb looking for a new husband as soon as possible. It’s then that Frank stands up for Debra, something he doesn’t do often, yelling at Ray about how he watched Debra fall apart. Ray’s expression changes. He looks shocked and embarrassed.

When everyone else is gone, he stands beside the bed, head down. He can’t talk, but he points repeatedly at his heart and then his wife. It looks as if he could cry. He draws a heart in the air, then a bigger one, shooting an arrow through it. He messes up, but he still loves Debra dearly. That’s not always enough, but as the end of every episode shows, as the end of the series showed, it’s a start.

Everybody Loves Raymond is available to stream on Peacock in the U.S.

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