‘Everybody Loves Raymond’s Audiences Were Gaga For the Show Even Before It Aired on TV, According to Showrunner

Everybody Loves Raymond debuted on CBS in 1996 and was an enduring hit on the network for nine seasons. But the show’s executive producer Phil Rosenthal revealed that before the show was ever seen on television, it was already a hit with audiences.

Here’s how Rosenthal made that claim.

The cast of 'Everybody Loves Raymond' poses for a photo during the series' wrap party, 2005
The cast of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ poses for a photo during the series’ wrap party, 2005 | Caroline Greyshock/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

The show’s episodes were based on the writers’ actual lives

Raymond‘s writers used the painful, messy moments from their own marriages and relationships and turned them into comedy gold.

Monica Horan, who played Amy Barone on the comedy and is Rosenthal’s real-life wife, told the Television Academy Foundation that she knew her husband used their marriage’s intimate moments as inspiration for some of the show’s episodes. Still, she explained, it was both mortifying and impressive to hear what had taken place in her home a week before being rehearsed by Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton on the show’s set.

“I literally was in hair and makeup,” she recalled, “when I first saw [the Emmy Award-winning episode called “Bad Moon Rising”]. That was a surreal experience. It’s very personal.”

‘Raymond’s live audiences loved the show from the start

Rosenthal told TAF that he was acutely aware of the moment that Raymond had become a hit. And it was before any episodes had aired on CBS.

“Early on there was a show where [Debra and Ray] took an IQ test,” Rosenthal said of the episode titled ‘Standard Deviation.’ “When it’s revealed that Ray actually has a higher IQ than Debra, when we thought for sure Debra had the higher IQ, she doesn’t take it very well. She’s eating ice cream and she just takes the bowl of ice cream and puts it right on his lap.”

The audience wouldn’t stop laughing and the executive producer made sure someone measured how long the laughter had gone on: “That laugh was 38 seconds. And that was the third episode in. The audience that was coming to the taping of that show, they don’t know these characters. The show hasn’t even been on television yet.”

Rosenthal was impressed at the audience’s strong connection to ‘Raymond’s characters

A former writer for the hit comedy Coach, Rosenthal knew the show potentially could be a hit saying at the time, slightly tongue-in-cheek: “‘We’re all gonna be millionaires.’ Because I thought ‘If they’re laughing at that and they don’t know them, that’s more than just a physical gag.’ This is a character thing that we understand how she feels about him, what their relationship is, the psychology behind the rivalry of husband and wife.

“And we had something. That was a big laugh. It was so long that we actually went back and said, ‘How long was that laugh?’”

Nine seasons and numerous Emmy Awards later, it’s fair to say Rosenthal was proven right all along.

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