Sorry, But Frasier Only Got Better After Niles & Daphne Got Together
Frasier, a favorite classic sitcom of mine and many others, ran on NBC from 1993-2004, basically developing alongside many kids growing up around that time. If you're a fan of the series like me, you'll always look back on the "will they?" or "won't they?" style relationship that was between Niles Crane and Daphne Moon. There's a belief out there that once that tension dissipated there wasn't growth in the following seasons afterward of Frasier, but I like to think that's wrong. Seeing the ups and downs of their growth as characters became a journey in itself and in their relationship with others, especially Frasier and Martin.
In the two-part finale of season seven of Frasier, "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", Daphne discusses a lot with a therapist as she looks back at the preparation for her wedding that was going to be to Donny. Uncovered from what she reveals, all leading up to the last moments of part two, you see Daphne is only starting to become who she truly wants to be and freedom in her self-expression and honesty is just out of reach. For Niles, it's had been more or less the same but with different types of partners and toxic relationships that developed unhealthy expectations. Just because the two got together in one of my favorite romantic scenes in television, that doesn't mean it's a happy road from then on and that the series depended solely upon their stories. Come on people, Frasier didn't do all it did to leave us with a "ride into the sunset" Niles & Daphne coupling.
The two saw one another in perfect light with the flaws being unanswered calls of connection and missed opportunities between relationships. In episode 14 of the eighth season of Frasier, Niles has to come to terms with the way he has been using "love goggles" for too long when it comes to Daphne and his idealization of her from afar as a friend before they got together was not as healthy as he'd thought. Only in a later episode, after Daphne decides she wants to go better herself alone on a retreat and regain her own health, does Niles get confronted with how he placed a label (or truly an expectation) of "perfect" on her without realizing it fully. The episode "Daphne Returns" from season eight, has one of the best scenes between Frasier and Niles as it gets deep into the ways the relationship hasn't started off as it should. The recognition of flaws and understanding and communication of each other's shortcomings is what livens the spark between them we saw before that end of the seventh season.
The way Frasier dealt with the aftermath of Daphne and Niles getting together was one of the most mature and well-done aspects of the series. When Frasier states, "You were never in love with her, you were in love at her", a profound recognition not only swept through the series but also through an audience witnessing a realistic dissection of this type of relationship. Not everything would be perfect all the way up through their wedding and eventual pregnancy, the series showed the brutal yet truthful elements of a healthy and communicative love but with the light-hearted soul of a sitcom. I continue to love this series when re-watching it for the many talented moments of dialogue and story development, but I do it particularly to fall in love with these flawed but mindful characters. Goodnight Bleeding Cool audience, I love you.