For more than a decade, everyone’s favorite psychiatrist was Dr. Frasier Crane, played to perfection by Kelsey Grammer and ably assisted by his pitch-perfect supporting cast. Where are those actors now that mental illness affects so many millions of Americans?
As the refined, erudite psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, Kelsey Grammer played one of the most popular and enduring sitcom characters in TV history, first turning up in Cheers’ third year, then successfully spinning off into Frasier for another incredible 11 seasons. Since then, Grammer has stumbled with small-screen comedies like Back To You and Partners, but he had a Golden Globe-winning dramatic turn in Starz’s Boss. He’s also been seen in blockbuster films like Transformers: Age Of Extinction, all while mental illness continues to be a pervasive problem in the United States. So while it’s great that Grammer is still working steadily, where is the man who once provided solace for our nation’s many “tossed salads and scrambled eggs”? Where is Dr. Frasier Crane?
The perfect foil to Frasier’s stuffy sophisticate, John Mahoney’s Martin Crane was everybody’s no-nonsense, working-class dad in the ’90s, dispensing salt-of-the-earth wisdom from his easy chair (which Frasier hated!). After Frasier ended, Mahoney eagerly returned to the Chicago theater scene where he’d honed his craft, continuing to appear in productions at the legendary Steppenwolf as recently as 2015. Meanwhile, the rates of mental illness have shown an alarming rise, currently affecting one in five American adults. Surely even Martin would agree: We could use Frasier now more than ever!
David Hyde Pierce
If you thought Frasier was a snob, that’s nothing compared to his brother Niles, who was played to Emmy-winning perfection by David Hyde Pierce! And if you thought that the proliferation of antidepressants and anxiety medications has improved the overall treatment of those suffering from mental disorders, the fact is, the many side effects they create often serve to only deepen the problem. Those who rely on drugs to treat their illness frequently find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of dependency, exacerbating their symptoms and unable to leave them behind without serious repercussion, no matter how much they might want to—kind of like how Niles always wanted to leave Maris!
Anyway, after Frasier, Pierce also returned to the theater. He was in Spamalot, and he got a Tony for Curtains!
Granted, “fixing” America’s mental health system is no easier than curing the disease of mental illness itself, and all too often, calls for sweeping reform—especially in the wake of tragedy, like after the recent spate of mass shootings—just seem like attempts to distract from more immediate debates over things like gun control. And while passing stricter gun laws is definitely crucial, the fact remains, it’s also pretty disconcerting to look at the rise of persons with severe mental illness who don’t receive the attention they need until it’s far too late. These people could greatly benefit from revisions to Medicaid and the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration to better identify and treat them. And everyone would benefit from a dedicated professional with a sympathetic ear who could help them through their problems, preferably with a bit of humor and a dulcet baritone.
Jane Leeves just wrapped six seasons on Hot In Cleveland.
Remember Roz, Frasier’s sardonic producer? Peri Gilpin, the woman who played her is on Scorpion now, and an estimated 43.8 million people experience mental illness every year. Still going strong!
Sadly, Moose—the original Jack Russell terrier who played Martin’s mischievous dog, Eddie—died back in 2000. So, Moose is off the hook when it comes to reviving Frasier and providing the sage psychiatric counseling and charming bedroom farce the show gave America in its less turbulent years, when a more naïve generation just took it for granted. But everyone else, what’s their excuse?