cover image Cheers: A Cultural History

Cheers: A Cultural History

Joseph J. Darowski and Kate Darowski. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5381-1387-5

If readers do not already believe the sitcom Cheers (which ran from 1982 to 1993) was a monumental television comedy, this book will do little to convince them. A serviceable survey by the Darowski brother-and-sister team (who cowrote a history on the Cheers offshoot Frasier) on a show “about alcoholics who are never drunk,” it wastes little time on context or production war stories. Instead, after a preamble on how the self-described “Jew and two Mormons” (director James Burrows and writers Glen and Len Charles) pitched a faltering NBC a surrogate family workplace sitcom in the vein of The Dick Van Dyke Show, the authors embark on a season-by-season recap. Relying heavily on quotes from other critics and bland assertions such as calling it “one of the greatest television shows of all time,” the Darowskis mostly dish out generalizations. There are the odd gems, such as a collection of the best “Norm” lines and a comparison of lovably daft bartenders Woody and Coach (“for both characters there is no subtext, only text”). But except for those moments, and the odd consideration of issues such as how Sam Malone’s womanizing comes across in the #MeToo era, there is not much here to keep readers’ attention. This thin account of a hugely popular TV show disappoints. (July)