This ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Episode Inspired a Netflix Series

Everybody Loves Raymond soon became a hit after premiering in 1996. The CBS sitcom was created for comedian Ray Romano, who became a household name over his nine seasons on the show.

Series creator Phil Rosenthal recalled a storyline in the season 5 opener that inspired him for a future project on Netflix.

Cast of 'Everybody Loves Raymond' | Peter Boyle, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Monica Horan, and Brad Garrett
Cast of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’: (l-r) Peter Boyle, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Monica Horan, and Brad Garrett | Monty Brinton/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Ray Romano goes abroad

After season 1 wrapped, Rosenthal discovered that Romano had never been out of the country.

“I said, ‘Ever been to Europe?'” Rosenthal recalled, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Ray said, ‘Nah.’ I asked, “Why not?’ and Ray said, ‘I’m not really interested in other cultures.’ Even his own culture (Italian). And I thought, ‘There’s an episode.'” 

Romano and Rosenthal often used stories from their own lives as material for Everybody Loves Raymond. The series creator saw this as a golden opportunity to open the fifth season.

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“We send him over to Italy as Ray, and he comes back as Roberto Benigni — transformed by the food, the people, the beauty, the joy of travel,” Rosenthal explained. “After some convincing of CBS and a reluctant Raymond, we filmed two episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond in Rome.”

Italy works its magic on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ star

Apparently, Romano embraced his Italian adventure. Rosenthal revealed that he began to see the beauty and charm of Italy completely transform the Everybody Loves Raymond star.

“I saw what was happening to ‘Ray,’ the character that I wrote, actually happen to Ray the person,” Rosenthal said. “Every night we were shooting, he was so excited about trying all the pizza and gelato he could get, ricocheting across piazzas, spilling red sauce and then chocolate sauce all over himself. I saw my friend fall in love. And that changed my life.”

Seeing the metamorphosis in Romano gave Rosenthal the idea of sharing this international experience through a new show.

“What if I could do this for other people?” Rosenthal pondered. “What if just a few more folks got what I got, what Raymond got, what millions of world travelers have always understood? And wouldn’t the world be a little better if we all could experience a bit of someone else’s experience?”

Phil Rosenthal stars in his new show

In January 2018, Netflix began streaming Somebody Feed Phil, Rosenthal’s show that follows him around the globe trying different foods and experiencing a variety of cultures. The television producer credits the two-part Italy episode from his previous sitcom as the incentive for the new series.

“This is what inspired me to make Somebody Feed Phil,” he said of the Everybody Loves Raymond season 5 opener. “It’s part food and travel but also part sitcom and — to my surprise — today, part political statement. How did that happen? Since when did embracing other people and other cultures become a liberal cause?”

Rosenthal utilizes the common thread of food to connect with people who live in the countries he tours. The shared love of culinary creations serves as a uniting force within global communities.

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“I do love people, and I think I have a normal curiosity,” Rosenthal said. “I use food and (hopefully) humor as the way in. It’s the people I’m meeting around the world whom I really want to show off. I’m trying to make connections. … Because most people like to connect. Most people enjoy other people.”

Season 4 of Somebody Feed Phil is scheduled for release on Oct. 30.