Seattle’s Best

Published: June 17, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Psychiatrist and radio personality Frasier Crane is wrestling with an ethical dilemma.

Dr. Honey Snow is not only a pop-psychologist, best selling author and knockout blonde, she also has a crush on Seattle’s resident narcissist and relationship expert.

(That’s not the dilemma.)

When the stunning Snow asks him to write the forward to her new book, Frasier struggles to craft the right words without betraying his true feelings: the book stinks! However, when brother Niles uses his older brother’s own logic against him, Frasier realizes what he must do. “I have to tell her I can’t write the forward and…” he moans, “…say goodbye to ever sleeping with absolute perfection.”

Alone with Honey and his moral compass, Frasier reveals the truth but is quickly surprised to hear that rather than dismiss him, she now finds him more attractive than ever!

“How great to meet a man who will risk rejection rather than be dishonest,” she tells him. “I think honesty is the greatest aphrodisiac of all.”

Nevertheless, in the process of trading honesty secrets and hugs, Frasier discloses that he hates her first three books. He quickly realizes that too much honesty gets him booted from her apartment as well as her life.

Frasier’s ethics is a theme that plays out in many of the series’ stories as he constantly exhausts himself – sometimes in monumental efforts – to have what he wants while maintaining his integrity. What makes it all the more delightful are the steady stream of rationalizations that come forth before the truth finally emerges.

In another episode, the upright Frasier hires pushy, obnoxious agent Bebe Glazer (whom Niles describes as “Lady Macbeth without the sincerity”).

Bebe is ready, willing and very adept at doing whatever it takes to get her clients the best contracts possible – this includes climbing outside a nine-story window in the station manager’s office and threatening to jump. It’s only when Frasier climbs out on the ledge to “talk her down” that he discovers the unscrupulous tactics that she’ll use to get what she wants.

Safely back inside the office, only after the local news helicopter has captured the obligatory footage for the nightly news, Bebe  mawkishly thanks Frasier for saving her life. Frantic and thankful, the station manager assures Frasier that “Now, there’s no way we’re going to let you go!”

Alone with his Lady Macbeth, Frasier confronts her calculating ways. “What kind of a woman are you? You seduced me.  You lied to me. You nearly got me killed! You’ve shamelessly manipulated not only me, but this station, the news media, and the entire city of Seattle! What do you have to say for yourself?”

Bebe’s face turns from shame to pride. “Aren’t you glad I’m on your side?”

Frasier represents all of us struggling with our own ethical issues to show us the conflict between what we want and what we want to be. He may start out taking the low road, but eventually he not only sees the impact his decisions have on others but the cost to his own reputation.

At the end of the day, Frasier holds the mirror up to our own imperfections. We laugh at all his transparent rationalizations because they’re just like ours. While he clearly shows us the missteps we make in compromising our principles, he also confirms our capacity for redemption.

We may not wake up in the morning next to the delicious Honey Snow, but we can look at ourselves in the mirror and see reflected back a person of integrity.


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