Those of us who have brothers and/or sisters know what that is. Even those of you out there who are only children have heard of it.
There are a lot of different relationships that can be mentioned when you talk about a family. Dysfunctional or not, every family has their fair share of domestic disputes, whether it be with your spouse, your in-laws, or your siblings.
We have been discussing the past few weeks the hit CBS sitcom EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. The family in this show is the perfect microcosm for the American family, because it touches on all these different disputes the everyday family has.
The realism is what makes people watch, because they identify with everything that happens. Last week, we touched upon the relationship between Ray’s wife, Debra, and her mother-in-law, Marie. I wonder how many daughters-in-law read the column last week who have never watched the show before and thought about the similarities and differences between their own relationships with their in-laws and the sitcom’s.
So, the realism comes from everyday life. The comedy comes from the particular closeness of this particular family (right across the street.)
Coming full circle now, sibling rivalry is most definitely represented in this sitcom. The relationship between Raymond and his older brother, Robert, is a perfect representation of the sibling rivalry present in many families across the world. This is largely due to the fact that it is based on Ray’s true-life relationship with his older brother. (In case you were wondering, that’s a large factor in the success of this sitcom. The writers and producers all use their own real-life experiences and domestic disputes to create their scripts.)
Raymond is a successful sportswriter for New York Newsday. He is a very popular columnist, and gets national recognition and special family recognition for his work.
Robert, who is older than Raymond, is also ironically, NOT the family favorite. He is a police officer who, until the end of the seventh season, was not married. He has no children, and has spent his life either living with his parents or in an apartment. He has not had the luck in life that Raymond has, and he is resentful of the spotlight that constantly shines on Raymond.
Raymond gets the best chair at the table. Raymond gets his mother’s best cooking. Raymond gets a wife, Raymond gets a house with a lawn, Raymond has twin boys and a daughter……in Robert’s words of woe: “It never ends for Raymond.”
Now, naturally, this would not be true sibling rivalry if there wasn’t a flipside. Raymond, who gets frustrated with the pressures of trying to keep the peace between his wife and his mother, putting up with his wife’s mood swings, and the general pressure of raising a family, sometimes resents Robert for his freedom.
Robert can spend his money how he chooses. Robert can use the bathroom without “a gang of screaming maniacs pounding on the door.”
Now, of course, they each have their own talents that they admire in each other, although the times when they aren’t too proud to admit it are few and far between. Raymond is a talented writer, but he does not, and would never, have the courage to go out into the mean streets of NYC everyday like Robert does. Robert does not have the fame and fortune of Raymond, or even his parents’ complete attention or approval, but he has a job he enjoys because he likes saving people.
So, whether they are vying for their mother’s attention or arguing over who has accomplished more and been luckier in life, there is no denying that there is sibling rivalry between Raymond and Robert. But, you also can’t deny that there is true admiration and respect for each one, as evidenced in certain episodes. One of the most clear ones is an episode from season two called “The Ride-Along.” Ray and Robert are watching an episode of COPS, and Raymond does not believe that Robert does all that superhero-style police work (“The last time you ran was when the wind took your balloon”). This prompts Robert to take Raymond on a police ride-along so that he could see the action he goes through firsthand.
At first, the ride-along is a bust, and they are just riding around the city on patrol, which, naturally, Raymond, ever the annoying little brother, eggs Robert on, saying “Oh, no, it has been an exciting night. There was that open warehouse door we had to investigate.”
However, when they stop for a break at the pizzeria, Ray witnesses Robert stop and armed robber, and finally comes to appreciate the full extent of Robert’s work, and the lesson in the end? Just because your name is in the paper doesn’t mean you’re the more important part.
It’s episodes like this that make this show much more than just a comedy. There is real feeling and depth to it, and it takes watching it to fully appreciate it. Reading this column every week won’t do it by itself.
So, go! Monday nights at 9 P.M. It’s Raymond’s final year. Go, enjoy, and appreciate.
I’ll “see” you next week!