Yesterday, I watched two episodes of Frasier that got me thinking and not just laughing!
1. Frasier is on a date with a woman, and Niles and Daphne are tagging along. (This is when they’re a couple.) Frasier’s car breaks down, and he doesn’t know how to fix it. Daphne solves the problem, and Frasier’s date doesn’t want anything more to do with him. Frasier concludes that women like men who can fix things.
As a result, Frasier and Niles decide to take an auto-mechanics class. At first, they suck up to their instructor, Randy. But they get discouraged when they find that they have no interest or aptitude in auto-mechanics. Even a woman who knew nothing about cars is progressing faster than they are! When Randy tells Frasier and Niles to come in early the next morning so they can be his “special project,” they take offense at the implication that they are remedials. Frasier went to Harvard, and Niles went to Yale, after all!
Daphne and Marty (the father of Frasier and Niles) really want them to get their certificate, so Niles and Frasier plug along in order to impress them. When Roz tells them that they only have to pass to get the diploma, they decide to become underachieving class clowns, writing each other notes in French. Frasier and Niles are then kicked out of the class, and they go to a local Kinko’s (or something like that) to get fake diplomas.
This got me thinking about how many of us flinch at being labeled “remedial.” Frasier and Niles could have learned more about auto-mechanics had their pride not gotten in the way. Sure, they’d have to put up with the indignity of being Randy’s “special project,” but at least they would have learned. And, while Randy was clearly annoyed with Frasier and Niles, he was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to help them.
Another point: Even if Frasier and Niles had gotten their certificate, what use would it have been if they still couldn’t fix a car? I was expecting the end of the story to be that Frasier and Niles would get their certificates and then find themselves in a position where they’d have to apply their newfound knowledge, which didn’t exist because they just “coasted.” This reminds me of a point Robert Kiyosaki made in Rich Brother Rich Sister: Many of us tend to focus a lot on grades or credentials, when we should be concentrating on learning. That’s a challenge to me!
2. Frasier is at a science fiction convention, and he sees an actor (Jackson) who inspired his and Nile’s interest in Shakespeare when they were kids. The actor now plays a legendary android in a popular science fiction series. Outraged that a great man has been reduced to this level, Frasier and Niles decide to put on a show in which the actor displays his Shakespearean talent.
When they see that the guy stinks, they conclude that he must be rusty, since he hasn’t done Shakespeare in years. Niles then brings an old tape of his acting when Frasier and Niles were kids, and he stinks there too! “He has no instinct–just stink,” Frasier remarks. Frasier and Niles remembered him as impressive, but their impression is different now that they see him with adult eyes, after years of exposure to finer actors.
There’s some deep lesson in this, but I can’t pin down what. What’s this say about our memory or our growth? There are probably things that used to impress me that don’t really anymore. I still think I should honor them in some fashion. I wish that Frasier gave a little speech that at least recognized that Jackson inspired their interest in drama, and he deserved their gratitude for that accomplishment.