By Ashley Amon and Andrew Daar
Season 2, Episodes 9 and 10: “Adventures in Paradise, Part 2” and “Burying a Grudge”
Original Airdates: Nov. 22, 1994 and Nov. 29, 1994
Andrew: Frasier and Lilith were always meant for each other, even in divorce. They both react to each other’s presence in Bora Bora by trying to “win” the divorce through a one-upmanship competition (Lilith kisses her Brian, her new boyfriend, so Frasier kisses Madeline even harder, prompting Lilith to full-on make out with Brian). And despite their seeming contempt for each other, they end at a place of respect and happiness.
Once Frasier is aware that Lilith is in Bora Bora, his focus shifts from Madeline to her, desiring to impress her with his new girlfriend and make her envious of him. Madeline becomes a pawn in their war. Lilith is just as guilty, though. Toward the end of “Adventures in Paradise, Part 2,” when Lilith arrives at Frasier’s apartment to get his blessing for her marriage to Brian (that she would want it shows just how much she cares about his opinions), Lilith insults Frasier’s dating rituals and sexual prowess. Frasier isn’t in the room when she makes this comment, so its purpose was not to hurt Frasier, but to encourage Madeline to leave. Lilith doesn’t want to share her man.
“Burying A Grudge” examines Martin’s stubbornness and his belief that he is powerless to change a bad situation. Martin and his former partner Artie Walsh have bad blood between them due to some juvenile name-calling at work. When Artie ends up in the hospital, Martin can barely bring himself to visit his friend, believing that things have gotten so bad between them that their relationship is too far gone. Throughout the series, Martin has been shown as someone who is not in touch with his emotions and has a hard time admitting that he is wrong, so he shuts off his positive feelings toward his friend, because he knows that the only way to make up with him is to apologize and address why things went bad. To Martin, this borders on impossible.
Ashley: Frasier’s reaction to Lilith’s presence is rather juvenile, considering his psychiatric training. For someone who helps others deal with this issue, he certainly can’t seem to handle it well himself. Trying to “one-up” Lilith by using Madeline as some kind of trophy is pathetic, but I did laugh when he ruined the bed pretending to have sex with Madeline. Frasier doesn’t have feelings for Lilith, but considering her cheating past, I can understand that Frasier would want to demonstrate to her that he’s happy without her. If Frasier accepted Lilith’s actions and was indeed “over it,” we wouldn’t have this humorous episode.
Part of the humor with Frasier and Lilith is the jabs they make at each other. I’ll have to disagree with you in regards to her speaking to Madeline while Frasier is out of the room. I don’t think Lilith was encouraging Madeline to leave because she doesn’t want to share Frasier, I think she’s past that. I truly think Lilith came to Frasier’s asking for his blessing to wed again. Judging by his behavior in Bora Bora, it’s actually deeply respectful of Lilith, as an ex-wife, to seek Frasier’s blessing. Lilith’s mocking of Frasier’s sexual prowess and standard mangos-on-a-stick isn’t meant to get rid of Madeline, she’s just being Lilith. She’s weird, dry, and a little on the abrupt side. Their relationship is fluid and ever-changing, and this is just one of the episodes that shows that.
Watching Martin suppress his feelings and assuming the relationship is ruined is something I can sympathize with. I’ve done this same thing myself (and I get it from my dad, my very own Martin Crane). Sometimes it’s okay to let a relationship go, but in Martin’s case it’s over the most ridiculous things: rumors that Martin cried during Brian’s Song and in retaliation Martin made disparaging remarks about Artie’s wife’s derriere. Martin disappoints me in this episode initially because I know he’s better than this. Who the hell cares that he cried during Brian’s Song (or didn’t, whatever)? Then, instead of making a remark about Artie, he attacks Artie’s wife. That’s a low-blow and unnecessary.
Speaking of low-blows, this episode had a lot of attention paid toward the appearance of women: first, Roz lusting after a younger man and how society is “okay” with an older man/younger woman but not vice versa; second, Maris in the hospital for her cosmetic surgery and the pressure women face (and Niles’ goddess worship of Daphne while she plays solitaire), and finally Martin’s admission that he told Artie he thought his wife Loretta had an ass “the size of Albuquerque.”
Andrew: I noticed the gender binaries in “Burying A Grudge” as well. They were so prevalent that I was surprised it didn’t become part of the larger theme of the episode. In addition to the notes about appearance and double standards, Martin disapproved of Eddie carrying a doll, as if Eddie could grasp the concept of “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys,” Frasier discusses how the social beauty standard creates insecurity in women, and Martin getting upset because Artie told people that he cried, an emotional response that he deems feminine. Martin’s old-fashioned views of gender roles fit his character, and were generally played negatively to show that he was being obstinate over total non-issues, but Frasier’s sexist behavior (saying that he “doesn’t make the rules, [he] just enjoys them” regarding double standards, and reacting with utter shock to the picture of Mrs. Walsh’s butt) was slightly upsetting.
You make a good point about Lilith’s mocking of Frasier is just Lilith being Lilith; she has few social graces and speaks her mind. But they still care what the other thinks about them, and after all of their bickering, they always seem to end their encounters with kindness and respect.
Ashley: It was just so odd how many times gender roles or expectations were brought up in this episode. I completely forgot about Eddie and the doll. Martin is still holding a grudge for Frasier making him get his dog neutered, something any responsible pet owner in many cities is required to do (unless you receive a permit to breed). He attributes Eddie’s like of the doll to the fact he no longer has testicles. It’s cute because Eddie is an adorable dog and he looks silly carrying a Barbie doll.
As for Frasier and Lilith, I think a lot of their mutual respect for each other is based upon their past (I’m referring to Frederick, a joint venture that they both adore and are very proud of) and also psychiatry. Both are brilliant psychiatrists and acknowledge that fact in the other. I have to hand it to them, I know of few divorced couples (or exes in general) that get along as well as Frasier and Lilith.