There’s an episode of Frasier that deals with paranoia. I first saw it circa 2007. I’d been watching the reruns for a few years, but when it came on, I didn’t recognize the storyline. I wound up completely held in its thrall, and I couldn’t quit watching; and at the end, I was sobbing. I could just relate so much.
What I love about the show is that most of the episodes deal with some aspect of psychology. This episode was no exception.
At the start of the episode, Frasier stops to help someone change a tire, even though he doesn’t know how to, and the man calls his radio program and scolds him for scratching his car’s paint job. Also, Frasier finds an empty wallet and hands it to the servers at Cafe Nervosa, but then the owner shows up and accuses Frasier of having taken the wallet’s money.
Frasier’s getting more and more disheartened by human nature when his coworker, Bulldog, asks Frasier to cover his night shift, saying his mom’s in the hospital. In reality, Bulldog’s off to Vegas, but I don’t think Frasier ever finds out about that.
So then Frasier’s driving home in the pouring Seattle rain when he sees a woman on the side of the road who’s getting drenched. He offers her a ride, but he soon discovers that she’s a prostitute. Shortly thereafter, he gets pulled over and arrested for hiring a prostitute.
His dad, a former cop; and his brother, a germophobe, both show up to bail him out. His dad’s embarrassed to be seen at the precinct under the circumstances, and Niles is afraid to touch anything. They both treat Frasier terribly and make him feel worse.
When they get home, it’s early the next morning and Frasier, being a media figure, is front-page news. He goes inside. His young son, Freddie, is there to visit Frasier for the weekend from Boston.
So Frasier starts having a conversation with his son, and Freddie asks, “What are you saying, Dad? That we shouldn’t help people?”
Frasier gets this look on his face like he doesn’t know what to say, and then, in a flash, he’s driving home from work late at night again, and he sees a woman by the side of the road, drenched.
The whole thing never happened. He’d had a paranoid fantasy.
Not giving into paranoia, Frasier stops and picks her up.
“I’m going where you’re going,” she says.
“What do you mean?” Frasier seems panicked.
“Don’t you recognize me? I live in your building, the Elliott Bay Towers,” she says.
Frasier smiles, relieved, and drives through the night.
It’s just that, you know, when I was watching it, I had no idea it wasn’t “real”. I never would’ve guessed. But he saw that woman in the road, and his mind went to a dark place. I can relate to paranoid fantasies. In a paranoid fantasy, people are mean to you and don’t care. That’s why his dad and brother were such jerks at the police station. In “real life”, they would’ve been way more supportive.
It just had a profound impact on me, but in a good way. Although recounting it now has me in tears. (I also can’t recite the plot of Pollyanna or The Dollhouse Murders without sobbing.)
But in the end, he chose to risk it and save the woman from the deluge, despite how paranoid his mind had become. That really said something to me. We can’t give up on human nature and always see the worst in everyone, although that’s what I tend to do.
I’m just having issues. I guess I’ll always have issues. I’ve been really sad all day, and lethargic and sedated-feeling.
Still crying. Oh well. Can we do Pollyanna too? This is from the Hayley Mills movie version of the story. So, Pollyanna’s dad dies and she goes to live with her Aunt Polly. Aunt Polly is a control freak who controls the whole town and lords over everyone. Pollyanna, on the other hand, is very positive and upbeat. Her dad taught her to play the glad game, where they find ways to be glad about everything. When they got crutches from the missionary instead of a doll for her to play with, they were glad that she didn’t need the crutches.
Pollyanna goes around town and fixes everyone’s problems. She manages to correct the attitude of an old woman who’s just feeling sorry for herself, and she convinces the minister to preach about positive things from the Bible instead of negative things. (In a classic scene, his sermon starts with his yelling in a stern and scary, “Death comes unexpectedly!” And then he’s off and running.)
The town arranges a bazaar to raise money so they can get out from under Aunt Polly’s thumb. Naturally, Pollyanna isn’t allowed to go, even though all the other kids will be there. Pollyanna sneaks out the window, goes to the carnival, and has a great time. The adults guarantee that when she plays the fishing booth, she wins a doll.
But on the way back home, she’s all the way up the tree and trying to reach her attic bedroom when she falls. Aunt Polly hears this scream and has no idea what’s wrong.
Pollyanna becomes paralyzed from the waist down, and Aunt Polly hates herself. She finally understand what matters, but it’s a little too late for Pollyanna.
Pollyanna enters an uncharacteristic funk and refuses to talk to anyone or see anyone. Aunt Polly arranges for her to go away someplace for physical therapy. On the day that she’s scheduled to leave town, she’s carried downstairs, and the whole freakin’ town is in Aunt Polly’s foyer to see her off. And then Pollyanna feels better, because they all appreciate her so much that they want to be there for her, too. Pollyanna can’t be upset any longer because they all love her so much.
Total hysterical weeping. That’s so beautiful. I’m just a weepy mess. I just love the story so much. Pollyanna is my role model! No matter how awful things got, she always saw the best in people and in life!
Good grief. I must be hormonal. That would explain at least a few things. It’s just that I usually get PMS during my period, not before it. I think I’ll go purchase a pound of chocolate. Party at Meg’s house, rah, rah, rah.