Having been single for quite a long time, and never being married, I've never had to experience the joys of having in-laws.
EDIT: Oh, wait, that's not quite true, as both of my sisters have gotten married.
I'm talking about having a mother-in-law or a father-in-law. I've never had either one as of yet. But, I have to admit that I always wondered how I would get along with in-laws...hypothetically speaking, of course.
I would like to think that if I ever had in-laws, I would get along with them quite well. Or, at the very least, I would try to get along with them for the sake of my wife.
However, I'm sure that many of you reading this blog entry have had in-laws who have at times driven you a little bit crazy.
Suppose you have a mother-in-law who purposely brings over complete dinners for the whole family. To some, it might seem like a kind gesture of love on the surface. But if you knew ahead of time that the only reason that your mother-in-law was bringing over food because she didn't think that your cooking was as up to par as hers...well, yes, that would be incredibly frustrating.
Or, how about having a garage or basement filled with dozens of appliances and electronics that no longer work because your father-in-law claimed that he could fix them, only to make them even more damaged? Yes, that could be frustrating.
Or, how about when you spend a whole lot of time and effort creating the perfect gift for your in-laws? You spend a fortune on making sure that the gift is of the finest quality, and even spend a little extra to have it engraved. It's a gift that comes straight from the heart. And what happens when they unwrap it for Christmas? They take it to the store and exchange it for something that they wanted more.
That would be the ultimate in frustrations.
And, yet, the above situations have happened to today's blog subject.
You might think that was bad enough. Having in-laws that constantly meddle in every aspect of your life, often causing more frustration than happiness. At least in most cases, they live far enough away that at most, you only have to deal with them once a week or so.
Not so for our blog subject for today. In her case, she was unfortunate enough to live right across the street from her in-laws. Just imagine having your in-laws living so close that they feel a need to come by for a visit EVERY SINGLE DAY. Having them criticize the way you clean the house, or do unsolicited repair jobs around the house, or just dropping by unannounced.
I imagine that would be enough to drive anybody nuts.
On that note, I think we should meet this victim of unfortunate circumstances, shall we? Oh, look...here she is preparing a turkey for a holiday dinner.
Wow. That wasn't awkward to watch at all.
But for Debra Barone, such was life being married to Ray Barone. Unfortunately for her, when she married Ray, she also married Marie, Frank, and Robert Barone...Ray's mother, father, and brother, respectively.
The television show that these characters come from? That would be 'Everybody Loves Raymond'. Debuting in 1996 and running until May 2005, 'Everybody Loves Raymond' was part of the CBS Monday night comedy block, and consistently ranked near the top during its entire run. For nine seasons, the show chronicled the lives of Debra, Ray, and their three children, growing up in a suburban paradise in the state of New York. The show is largely based off of the real-life family of Ray Romano, who himself has three children. Patricia Heaton played Ray's wife, Debra.
The sitcom also starred Brad Garrett as Robert, Doris Roberts as Marie, the late Peter Boyle as Frank, and the Sullivan siblings (Madylin, Sullivan and Sawyer) as Ray and Debra's three children. In later episodes, Monica Horan played the role of Amy, Robert's girlfriend who later became Robert's wife.
TRIVIA: In the pilot episode of 'Everybody Loves Raymond', which aired on September 13, 1996, the original names of the twin boys in the program were Gregory and Matthew, after Ray Romano's real life twin boys. Their names were changed to Geoffrey and Michael after the pilot. The third Barone child, Ally, was named after Romano's daughter, Alexandra.
In the show, Ray works as a sportswriter for a newspaper, while Debra was a homemaker. Prior to marrying Ray, Debra worked in public relations for the New York Rangers hockey team (which probably explains part of how Ray and Debra hooked up in the first place).
Initially, when they met each other, Debra lived in an apartment, while Ray lived at his parents house moving furniture. Ray was delivering a futon that Debra had ordered, and they were setting it up for her when Debra and Ray almost felt an instantaneous connection with each other. I guess if one were to believe in love at first sight, Ray and Debra felt it. Ray even asked Debra out on a date, to which she accepted.
And then Ray walked in on Debra as she was getting out of the shower, and saw everything, and he thought he blew it. Turns out, he didn't. She invited him over to her place, tempted him with her world famous lemon chicken dish, and she fell head over heels in love with him.
The part where Ray almost knocks Debra out cold with the freezer door was just a fluke. Of course, some people who believe strongly in fate may have taken that a sign for Debra to run far, far away.
But Debra was seemingly a glutton for punishment, and married Ray anyway.
It wasn't until Ray and Debra had Ally and were expecting twins that they realized that they needed a bigger place to raise their family. There was no way that they could fit five people in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. They needed a house, and needed one fast. So, when the house across the street from Ray's parents became available, you know who came up with the idea to buy the house?
In Debra's mind, it was the perfect solution, despite Ray's objections. They would have a home big enough to raise their family, and they would also have Frank and Marie across the street to look after their children when they couldn't. Add Uncle Robert to the mix, and it would be fun and games all the time.
Only it wasn't.
Throughout the nine years that we welcomed the Barone family into our households, we saw just how stressed out Debra was. Of course, sometimes it felt really difficult to find any sympathy for her because as we all know, it was her own fault that they ended up there in the first place. At times, she was so stressed out and overworked that it wasn't too uncommon to see her emotionally frustrated and having fractured relationships with everyone in her family.
Despite all of this though, the Barone family care an awful lot for Debra, and they all know that they are probably better people for having her in their lives.
So I thought for this blog entry, I'd use it to celebrate Debra, by accentuating at least one positive quality in each relationship that she has with each one of the adult Barone family members. Because, let's face it, to be able to deal with all of their craziness, she deserves a medal...even though she sort of brought it on herself.
Let's begin with the man that Debra married. Ray Barone. I'd have to say that for the most part, Ray and Debra were very much made for each other, and it's hard to pictured either of them apart. But, just like most husbands and wives, there's always something that they tend to nitpick each other about. Whether they forget to throw their dirty underwear in the laundry hamper, or they don't take out the garbage, or they don't fix the squeak in a cabinet door. You know, things like that.
In Debra's case, she gets annoyed that her husband doesn't seem to take a real active role in helping her with chores or raising the children. Although Ray is forced to watch ESPN and other sports programming for his job as a sports writer, it did seem as though Ray used it as a bit of a convenient excuse to get out of the household duties that Debra asked him to help out with. Ray's even gone as far as faking illness to get out of doing housework. No wonder Debra got frustrated with him.
Of course, Ray's behaviour is easily understood when you take into consideration how he grew up. With a mother who spoiled him rotten, and a father who basically ignored him, he really had two different extremes. It was really hard for him to find a middle ground. I think Debra understood this, and tried to make allowances for him. It proved to be quite a challenge though. Although, one thing that was clear was that Ray really loved his wife and would do anything for her when the time came. He even gave up the Super Bowl for her once. There's not a lot of guys who would give up the Super Bowl for anything.
(Well, actually, I would because I hate football, but that's a moot point.)
And in turn, Debra helped defend Ray from a bully...the mother of one of the girl scouts in their daughter's girl scout troop. So, like I said, when worst comes to worst, they are always there for each other.
But what about the other members of the Barone family?
I'd say that regarding the male members of the family, Debra had a cordial relationship with both of them.
Frank Barone, although he was always one to hide his emotions and was your stereotypical cantankerous old geezer, he seemed to have a soft spot for Debra. I really do think that in his own way, he really liked Debra, and was proud of Ray for marrying a great girl like her.
Certainly he drove the family crazy by breaking the staircase, painting their house a weird colour, and actually driving a car through their living room!
But Frank was a guy who didn't like seeing Debra hurt. And when Debra decided to take on a job at the lodge that Frank was a member of, Frank knew that the other members didn't exactly act like gentlemen. Frank not only stood up for Debra, but made sure that she was safe from the advances of the other men. Once Frank stood up for her, Debra ended up getting enough confidence to tell the lecherous perverts at the lodge how disappointed she was in them.
Debra also has a great relationship with Robert. In fact, I think Debra and Robert probably understand each other the best because they're both in similar situations. Just as Frank and Marie can sometimes drive Debra crazy, it is especially worse for Robert, as he happens to live with Frank and Marie under their roof for most of the series. But that was good in a way, because Debra and Robert would often comfort each other, and give each other advice on how to cope. Robert ended up being a venting post for Debra to vent about Ray, Frank, and Marie, and I'm sure that having Robert as a confidant really helped Debra manage her stress. In turn, Debra probably helped Robert stop feeling sorry for himself, and was Robert's strongest supporter when he and Amy started dating. I think the friendship between Robert and Debra was wonderful, and I kind of wish it was explored more in the series.
Finally, we come to the frenemy portion of the blog entry.
The quality of the clip above is not very good, but it's no secret that Marie Barone and Debra Barone's relationship can be quite dysfunctional at times. Let's take a look at all the things that Marie has done to Debra over the years. She sabotaged Debra's spice rack to keep her from duplicating her own recipes. She purposely tells Debra that she is not a good cook, cleaner, housekeeper, or clothes folder. She insists on taking control over ever little detail in weddings, parties, anything really. She's snobbish, she's judgmental, I think in one episode, Amy's mother once called her a narcissist.
To say that Debra and Marie are much like water and electricity would be an understatement.
But there is one positive thing that I can say about both of them. No matter how much they antagonize each other, both Debra and Marie want what is best for Ray. And I think that while neither one of them would ever show it, I think there's a little bit of respect deep down inside. Deep down, I do believe that Marie thinks that Debra is the best woman for Ray. Though, she'd NEVER admit it.
Another instance came when Debra and Marie ended up having a falling out that lasted almost an entire week. They refused to speak to each other, despite efforts from Ray, Frank, and Robert to get them to patch things up. Weirdly enough, Debra and Marie ended up forgiving each other on their own, as both of them realized how much they missed each other!
I guess maybe in some weird way, Debra and Marie actually get along better when they are taking shots at each other's expenses. They fight and criticize each other constantly, and Marie always manages to find a way to disguise her condescending nature as a compliment to Debra, which I'm sure annoys Debra to no end. At the same time, I don't think either one could live without the other.
It's a real dysfunctional relationship between the two of them, and I don't think I could really do it much justice in such a small space. Maybe if I ever do the Marie Barone blog topic, it'll be explained in more detail.
My hope for today though is that you understand Debra Barone a little more than you might have before...and maybe you'll find that you love her just as much as you might have Raymond.
Well, unless you HATE the show, that is.