Everybody Loves Raymond, the long-running CBS sitcom about a dysfunctional Italian-American family, has plenty of fans. The crude jokes and realistic Long Island family dynamic resonated with millions of viewers week after week for nearly a decade. But a lot has changed since its 1996 premiere, and looking back at some of the less than politically correct jokes is a crash course in cringe.
Barone Family patriarch Frank (Peter Boyle) and his overbearing wife Marie (Doris Roberts) provide comic relief when meddling in the lives of their children Raymond (Ray Romano) and Robert (Brad Garrett). What was funny almost 30 years ago doesn’t fly in 2023 — where the commonplace and then-accepted humor comes off as a dud and lands with a thud.
10 The Bullying Kid
We’ve all known that kid. The one who doesn’t play by the rules pushes things to the limit, and whose parents brush it off – that’s Spencer (Brett Buford). Bullying is unacceptable, and what may have been seemingly funny in the ’90s isn’t so much today.
The son of acquaintances Lauren (Cheryl Hines) and Neil Williamson (Craig Anton) wreaks havoc on the Barone household and reminds viewers that discipline should be an actual thing. Spencer’s antics and disrespect aren’t acceptable or funny in today’s world.
9 Ray’s Misogyny Doesn’t Hold Up
Ray’s seemingly affable husband shtick wears thin during the series. When Ray takes it upon himself to manage Debra’s (Patricia Heaton) mood swings by offering her medication, it doesn’t go well.
The stereotypical trope that a woman on her cycle makes her a maniacal shrew is a running theme that doesn’t land as well as it did in the ’90s. Ray’s failed attempts to « help » his wife through her menstrual cycle lack self-awareness and give viewers a cringeworthy moment that no fan deserves.
8 Ray’s Wandering Eye
Adultery is nothing to laugh at, even if it’s just hinted at. Ray’s wandering eye is a running theme on the show, but it falls flat. With Debra at home with the kids, he takes the married man, tempted too much, to another level. When Robert loses Ray’s wedding ring, it highlights the misogyny that wouldn’t be accepted in today’s times.
Debra’s curiosity and jealousy is a relatable moment. Though Raymond continues to play the fool, it’s obvious to viewers that he would take the chance if he could. It’s not only uncomfortable to watch; it’s a reminder of the times and how far we’ve come.
7 Awkward Sex Jokes
The lack of sexual chemistry between Ray and Debra couldn’t be more obvious in the episode « No Roll. » Ray’s inability to self-reflect and realize that it’s not about a game, but him is an eye-opener for the self-absorbed husband.
When Ray brings home a board game to spice up things in the bedroom, it’s an awkward moment when Debra tells her husband that it’s not a game – it’s him. The arrogance isn’t lost on viewers who connect with what Debra is trying to say.
6 Sore Loser
In a tit-for-tat episode, the dynamic of the Barone men is on full display. Frank’s previous duplicity comes back full circle when Ray finds out that his father let him win in their games. This sends Ray on a mission to teach his father a lesson, but not in a good way.
When the father and son have a rematch, it takes a turn from the friendly to revenge. Ray’s obsession with beating Frank takes control in the episode, leaving viewers cringing watching the interaction between Frank and Ray. Though it may have been okay back then, it’s uncomfortable for today’s viewers.
5 Frank’s Selfishness
Frank isn’t the nicest guy, and that’s evident when he holds a football hostage. Ransoming the pigskin for $10,000 rather than turning it over to the rightful owner. The Barone patriarch is not only a bigot, but he’s greedy and stingy. The glee he displays at being a jerk is on full display.
Frank’s character is popular with viewers. His Archie Bunker-esque personality resonates with the Boomer crowd, but he’s still awful. Frank doesn’t care about who he hurts — including those in his family. While it may have been hilarious to the demographic they were looking for 30 years ago, it doesn’t play so well today.
4 Sexism and Objectification
Misogynistic jokes are no longer cool — if they ever were. The episode when Debra gets a breast enhancement highlights the uncomfortable conversation regarding a woman’s self-worth and the decisions made to do what makes her feel good.
In one of the most cringeworthy episodes, Debra gets this cosmetic surgery. That in and of itself wouldn’t be an issue, but how the supporting actors react, and subject Debra to leers and sexist jokes is something that should be left in the past.
3 Frank’s Entitlement
Frank Barone takes entitlement to a new level in « Grandpa Steals. » When the elder Barone gets caught stealing food, he doubles down rather than admit his mistake or apologize. Frank’s refusal to back down, though he’s definitely in the wrong, is not a positive.
Frank’s granddaughter Ally sees her grandfather break the law. His inability to take responsibility for his egregious actions is a slippery slope. The laughs Frank gets from his bad actions would not go over well today.
2 Racist Stereotypes
Though the sentiment may have been in the right place, the episode when Robert hangs out with his African-American partner doesn’t go over well today. From Robert’s over-the-top clothing to exaggerated vernacular, it was handled poorly.
When Robert’s partner Judy (Sherri Shepherd) takes him out for a night on the town, everyone assumes the pair is dating. Robert takes things a little too literally and slips into stereotypes rather than just being himself. Though this Season 3 episode is in the ’90s, it’s painful to watch today.
1 More Stereotypes and Classism
It’s easy to give Everybody Loves Raymond the benefit of the doubt in the first few seasons for missing the mark, but by the show’s ninth season, things should have been a bit more transparent — and self-aware. Whether it’s the writing that’s to blame or the cringeworthy way it’s pulled off that rubs current viewers the wrong way, it’s not a win.
As his usually bumbling self, Ray makes a joke in poor taste, not realizing that his twins’ father is a janitor. Why that matters, no one knows, but Ray feels the need to make a joke in poor taste about janitors. While it may have been funny then — for whatever reason — it definitely isn’t funny now and is a true eye-opener in how comedy changes with the times and decades.
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