‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Creator Phil Rosenthal on the Classic Show’s Endurance: ‘It’s a Microcosm of Families Everywhere’

It’s been 25 years since Everybody Loves Raymond debuted on CBS in 1996. The comedy series starred Ray Romano as the title character Ray Barone, Patricia Heaton as his wife Debra, Brad Garrett as Ray’s brother Robert, and Monica Horan (real-life spouse of show creator Phil Rosenthal) as his wife Amy. Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle rounded out the cast as the elder Barones, Marie and Frank.

Although the show had its share of mother-in-law and marriage jokes, for its fans it clearly never gets old, as it remains one of television’s classic sitcoms. Its executive producer Rosenthal explained why.

A scene from the 'Everybody Loves Raymond' series finale
A scene from the ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ series finale | Richard Cartwright/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Filming ‘Raymond’s finale got Phil Rosenthal ’emotional’

At the time of Phil Rosenthal’s interview with the Television Academy Foundation (TAF) in 2005, the end of Raymond was drawing near. And it was showing on the producer’s face the more he talked about its then-upcoming finale, winding up its ninth and last season.

“It’s emotional,” the showrunner admitted at the time, pointing to his slightly teary eyes. “You can see. Because of the content of it and because of what the family meant to me and because of what we all meant to each other, it was emotional. We spent nine years together. That’s high school and college and a little of grad school combined.”

The man responsible for approving every script of the show, every actor cast, and for deciding it was time to wrap the series up explained that “I’m welling up because it was a beautiful thing we had. And I’m so happy we had, really. And I’m not sad it’s over. Hopefully, we brought some laughs to people and it will continue as they watch.”

Why ‘Raymond’ goes on

Continue is exactly what Raymond has done, carrying on in syndication. The Somebody Feed Phil host noted that the Barone family endures, gaining new generations of viewers because the show “is a microcosm of families everywhere, of our country, of the world.”

In the final episode of the series, aptly titled “The Finale,” Ray announces he’s having his adenoids removed. The adults in the family go with Ray to the hospital. Robert kvetches under his breath to wife Amy: “The only reason I’m here is because Ma knows that I’m the same blood type as Ray.” While Marie (multiple Emmy winner Doris Roberts) is in the ladies’ room, a nurse emerges from the operating room to ask if Ray is allergic to anything because he’s not coming out of the anesthesia.

“[The episode] is very dark and scary for about 30 seconds, until the doctor comes out and says he’s fine,” Rosenthal recalled. “But he’s fine, he’s going to be OK, it was a momentary scare, but they had to have that real moment.”

‘Get a bigger table’

The “real point of the show,” he adds, “was … Ray at the beginning of the episode was complaining that they’re always on him, and Robert suggests ‘Get a bigger table,’ and he’s like ‘No, get out of my house!’ And in the tag of the show, everyone’s coming over and what’s not being said is, ‘We’re happy Ray’s alive,’ they’re all crowded around the table.

“And at the end, Debra says, ‘Ray, don’t you think it’s getting a little crowded in here?’ And Ray says, ‘I think we need a bigger table.'” That, Rosenthal emphasized, “is the show; that’s the series, to me.”

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