Cheers to Thanksgiving

As I’m writing this, I can hear in the background “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…” Some families have a tradition of watching football over the Thanksgiving holiday but in our house, “Cheers” is the go-to television entertainment.

I’m sure it’s true for most people that certain shows evoke memories of a specific place and time in their lives. “Mary Tyler Moore” is the show that I associate with my high school and college years, but “Cheers” spans the 11 years from 1982 to 1993 when I moved to San Francisco, worked in advertising, met Steve, got married, bought a house and started our family.

The characters were so well written and seemed so real that watching it was like eating comfort food. I always looked forward to it and it never failed to satisfy. I can still remember being in the coffee room at J. Walter Thompson on a Friday morning where a bunch of us were huddled together discussing the latest developments in Sam and Diane’s relationship from the episode the night before. “Do you think that they really won’t end up together?”

But back to the present day: how did we happen to introduce another generation to “Cheers?” Jennifer Lynn, our youngest daughter loves analyzing what works and what doesn’t work in popular media. She is a big fan of “30 Rock” and “Parks & Rec.” I don’t think I would embarrass her too much by saying that she aspires to be the next Tina Fey.

So one time, as we were discussing popular sitcoms with her, I started talking about TV series that I grew  up with; shows like “I Love Lucy,” (those were in reruns; I’m old but not that old) “That Girl,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Taxi” and “Cheers.” Since she appreciates good writing, I told her she would love these shows. She had come across “Cheers” while scrolling through Netflix.

Except for the shoulder pads in Kirstie Alley’s suit jackets, “Cheers” seems as fresh as it did the first time we watched it. It’s so refreshing to watch a show that isn’t filled with the snarky comebacks that are a staple of today’s sitcoms. There’s poignancy along with the humor so that we really care about the characters.

I’m hoping Netflix will expand its selection of old TV series so that we can share some of those other favorite shows with Jennifer. But in the meantime, I’m thankful that Netflix makes it possible for us to binge on “Cheers” and Thanksgiving leftovers at the same time.

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