Death and the Dog
Post # 2 of 10 in "The Frasier Series"
Season 4, Episode 12
Air Date: 02/11/1997
Episode 9 in Variety's Top 25 Frasier Episodes
WARNING: There will be episode spoilers in this blog series.
This series mostly aired in the 90's so, I think it's on you if you've found anything "spoiled" for you. Anyways, fair warning - I'm not holding anything back for your viewing surprise.
Call to Action:
Who are your People!?!?
Continue reading to take a journey through this Frasier episode, "Death and the Dog",
or skip ahead to dive right into the details of this Action Call!
" When Eddie shows signs of depression, a pet therapist thinks Martin’s dog is simply reacting to the dysfunctional Crane family! "
Where the Episode Starts
In Frasier's booth at KACL. In a panic, Frasier realizes his live show is starting but he has no callers!
He puts on his charm but there are still no calls. He begs:
" Somebody’s marriage must be on the skids? Somebody’s career must be going badly. Other than mine.
I know you agoraphobics aren’t outside!! "
Finally, Alice calls in complaining about being depressed. Because it was a very slow day for the show, Frasier takes us into a story about his dad's dog, Eddie.
Eddie is a Jack Russell Terrier and is Martin's best friend. Eddie often aggravates Frasier, many times by staring at Frasier. The dog's presence is a recurring point of contention between the father and son.
This episode puts Eddie to work in the beautiful way that dogs often are.
This episode spans consideration of our inevitable death to the present moment delight of an ice cream sundae enjoyed with good company or the pleasure of your favorite toy/joy.
As we’ve already read with the episode opening, we’re talking about depression.
Martin’s dog, Eddie, was expressing signs of depression: lack of appetite, lethargy, no interest in usual enjoyments. Eddie has been to the Vet and he has a good bill of health. The Vet suggested his symptoms could be an emotional problem.
If you read into Frasier fanfare, you’ll learn that Eddie received the most fan mail, more than any other character. Of all the fancy stats around this show, like they were nominated for an Emmy every single season of airing, the fact that Eddie was #1 in fan mail is my favorite statistic of all.
Daphne suggests maybe the answer to Eddie’s current blues is a dog psychiatrist. Frasier’s response is that her solution is “the most asinine idea they could come up with." As Martin further considers hiring the dog therapist, Niles explains the principles of human psychology cannot be applied to animal behavior. “They are the very definition of charlatanism,” Frasier continues the argument with Martin.
This scene presents a hilarious perspective of ... well... reading about it just doesn't do it justice.
This short 1 min clip gives us one of the highlights of the episode.
This scene is a warm chuckle for sure and I find it fun to consider what it might be like for a dog listening to us.
Despite the brother's protest, Martin hires the psychiatrist who asks for the entire family to be present for the initial consultation.
Dr Arnold Shaw rubs Eddie’s head resting on Martin’s beloved easy chair. “It’s OK to be sad. Sometimes I’m sad too. We’re going to spend the next hour to find out why your sad.”
Frasier, to Niles: “You can give a dog an hour and bill him for 7”
The Dr. concludes that Eddie’s depression must be coming from one of the humans in the family.
Frasier, Niles, Daphne, and Martin are then joined by Roz as well. They all consider who might be the most depressed. First Daphne suggests because Niles is recently separated and kicked out of his home, he has the most to be depressed about.
Martin adds Frasier’s life is kind of a drag, after all, he hasn’t had a date in a year, and his two marriages both failed. Frasier adds that he lives the whole distance of the country away from his son and emphasizes again he has no romantic prospects. Daphne chimes in that her love life is also stagnant as she just broke up with the only boyfriend she’s had in years, and lately, the most exciting thing that’s happened was her new haircut, which no one noticed.
Martin and Roz add their own concerns for themselves.
“How loosely woven is the fabric of our happiness, a tug or two and it unravels to reveal how empty our everyday lives really are.”
They arrive to think about and discuss death in their loneliness.
As things continue to get darker and heavier in the conversation among them, randomly Frasier finds Eddie’s Barbie stuck under a pillow on the couch.
As Eddie is reunited with his favorite Barbie, he starts bouncing around with glee.
As they observe Eddie’s renewed happiness, they suspect a small toy wouldn’t be able to turn it around for them; they are now super depressed themselves.
But then a gift, a kitchen timer chimes. Daphne remembers she just made cookies and they’re now fresh out of the oven. Frasier believes they have ice cream too!
The anticipation of an ice cream sundae brings them cheerfully out of their seats. They didn’t think a toy would do it, but clearly, the jolt of some sugar could flip the script.
This whole story has been shared through the structure of Frasier retelling it over his radio program. So as he summarizes the story about Eddie’s happiness to his caller, Alice, he ultimately concludes with:
Even the happiest of us can find reasons to be unhappy, if only we look for them. So, don’t look for them!
“Treat yourself to your favorite toy, whatever that might be.
“Life’s too short to dwell on every bump in the road, you have to take pleasure in the simple things. In short, eat a cookie."
Then he breaks a tooth! Through his groans, he whines "I got to go to the dentist, I haven’t flossed, my lip is going to get fat, my life sucks!"
In classic Frasier style of not walking the walk, he carelessly gets overwhelmed by superficial annoyances of life once again, after just advising to stay focused on the positives.
It's helpful to laugh at him because I think too many of us forget to laugh at ourselves doing the same exact thing.
There is an overload in this episode!! A bounty of important lessons!
- Depression & Psychiatry
- Classism & Culture
- The value of dogs
- Pursuit of happiness
But if there was one reflection I’d want someone to take from this episode it would be...
Call to Action:
Who are your People!?!?
In this episode, everyone gathers around and supports Eddie when he is showing signs of depression. Further, in this episode and other episodes of the series, each character shows the others they will be there for one another. In this episode, they share a great deal of vulnerability with one another and eventually, enjoy together their joyful solution.
We humans, and dogs too, are communal and our emotional needs are just as real as our physical, financial, and other needs.
If you are trying to make changes in your financial life, more than ever it's important to have trust in the people that influence how you spend your time and how you make money decisions.
Our financial health is similar to our emotional health in that no one can take responsibility but you. You must take the steering wheel and define what works for you and what does not. The people in our lives can be helpful and supportive, or toxic and expensive.
Take a review: Are you needing to cultivate your circle more or send out thank you cards to your ride-or-die people?
First, I think it’s important to note that depression is the most prevalent, most expensive illness and costs our economy billions each year.
Frasier aired in the 90s and even though he had a very successful radio program discussing mental health, he still consistently got flak from his dad and society as a whole, that not everyone believes in psychiatry as a function of medicine.
I did not find it surprising, again especially this being a 90s program, that when the characters consider their own depression, most of the consideration is around romantic achievements. I think this is a pretty common reflection of society, that our worthiness is attached to our success in relationships.
Thank goodness we can see there has been progress with the discussion of mental health and diverse lifestyles, but I think not as much progress as we need.
If you are struggling with mental health issues, it will impact your financial health.
It can be easier to pursue the healing that you need when you have friends and a community to lean upon.
Classism and Culture
Frasier and Niles take big issue with their dad hiring a dog psychiatrist.
Is it because they are offended they weren’t consulted first? No.
Is it because they completely doubt the dog psychiatrist can help? No.
It is the fact that Martin will spend his hard-earned pension money on this “professional” that upsets Frasier and Niles. If the appointment was free, I’m sure they’d appease their father. But because there is a price to this exercise, Frasier and Niles feel they must protect their dad and he should avoid giving his money to the dog therapist.
Frasier uses the word charlatism.
- the practice or method of a charlatan.
- a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than they possess; fraud; quack.
History has shown us many versions of fraud but that’s not what I want to review.
I want to review how snobbish Frasier and Niles were to the dog psychiatrist. They didn’t believe he was legitimate and therefore they could be disrespectful to him.
There is a whole sub-storyline in this episode that I didn’t cover in the plot: Roz has the hots for Frasier’s neighbor. She looks like a schoolgirl about to open Christmas presents when she’s introduced to the handsome bachelor but when she learns he’s a gynecologist, she is immediately repulsed, and the dating prospect is eliminated.
When Roz discusses her protest further with Daphne, Daphne says she’s not too keen on dating a dentist or a veterinarian either.
Clearly, society places a hierarchy upon professions. Often the scale will not be based on the amount of money that the profession can earn, but what it is they accomplish in their role. Over time opinions change about anything and everything including which professions are the most respected.
Classism goes back to the beginning of history and this episode shows no difference, we’re judging and generalizing people without knowing them based on their careers. We go to work to collect financial support for our lives, but so much more goes into the consideration of what we pursue as a career. I don't want to go much further on this topic as I know many others have considered it before but I did want to draw attention to how much judgment is associated with various careers.
Have you considered the presception of your career and are you OK with that?
What is your own perception of not just your career, but how your career fuels your financial fitness?
Do you feel like a fraud when discussing financial literacy?
Love of Dogs
The direction I want to keep pointing you to is consideration of the people and support network around you.
Dogs, and pets, are certainly included in our circle around us.
Pursuit of Happiness
I believe scoring our happiness is a critical step in calculating our own net worth.
Happiness can often come from contentment and I think contentment is the most beautiful goal to reach for our financial fitness.
Our mental health directly impacts our financial health. And our circle of friends and family around us certainly impacts our mental health.
Some additional reading:
Who are your People??
- Are they there for you when you need them?
- Can you be yourself with them?
- Do they encourage you to adventure in life?
- Do they make you feel like the best version of yourself?
- Do they respect you when you dedicate yourself to your goals?
- Do they make you feel like you need to spend money on things you aren't interested in?
- Can you be honest?
- Can you trust their money advice?
How you doing, friend?
I know it can be hard and almost secretive to discuss money. You might not be sure who you can talk to about your money. I'm here for you. Leave a comment below with your reflections or questions that came up from this reading. 💰🥰
💜 Coach Jacque
Next post: Episode # 8