Kirstie Alley’s Emmy-winning “Cheers” performance is a boozy tour de force +2023

Kirstie Alley was tasked with doing the impossible, and that’s something worth highlighting and celebrating following her tragic, sudden death at the age of 71. Remember: cheers could easily have ended when Shelley Long – one half of the medium’s definitive couple – left the series after Season 5. The show had gone from being the lowest rated show on television to being one of the greatest hits; Long’s last episode as Diane was the most-watched series of the week. Replacing Long should have been impossible – and then along came Kirstie Alley.

Way, cheers chose an actress and character almost diametrically opposed to Diane Chambers. Alley’s Rebecca Howe was a working woman of the 80’s, all shoulder pads and upward mobility. This was in stark contrast to Diane’s studious, somehow endearing elitism. And unlike Diane, Rebecca never really fell for Sam Malone’s charms. She resisted him with ease – except when she didn’t. Rebecca spent 6 seasons on the show so naturally Sam and Rebecca hooked up and had some off and on plans. The writers had to come up with more than 20 stories a year! But Rebecca was allowed to take another place cheers. She had a new relationship with everyone in the bar. She was the boss… and she was a chaos.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Season 9’s “Days of Wine and Neuroses.” This is the episode that would get Kirstie Alley her Emmy – in her fourth season on the show. Take a step back: how many shows get canceled after two or three seasons these days? Alley won an Emmy for her 87th episode of cheers. she was so good to the so long. You literally don’t see that these days because streaming services don’t allow actors to be as comfortable in their roles.

Anyway, Days of Wine and Neuroses begins to pay off for Rebecca’s ultimate storyline: her one-sided romance with imprisoned millionaire Robin Colcord. He finally gets out of the Slammer and is ready to get hooked. Suddenly Rebecca’s dreams come true and she celebrates in a whirlwind of balloons, roses and wine bottles. And then she has too much.

There’s no need to go into the episode’s final scene – the heart of the episode – beat by beat, because you really need to watch it. That’s why this article exists, to guide you to Alley’s Emmy-winning performance. It’s very obvious why Alley won for this episode as well. She finds an impossible balance in the scene. Drunk and smoking and having a real existential crisis, Alley plays the whole scene with a comedic swagger that tells us it’s okay to laugh. So was Alley’s magic throughout her six seasons on the show. She mastered the art of playing an undeniably confident brand of pathos. She cried a lot but she never got humiliated or acted less than you know?

And that’s the scene where Sam tries to comfort Rebecca in the middle of her destroyed apartment. Alley is the best on the scene from her ragged, ragged, raspy voice as she makes a series of life-altering realizations and repeatedly, unintentionally, puts Sam Malone in his place. Sam has always been a lady killer, but suddenly it’s the lady who has his sights set on him. Unfortunately, her vision is obscured by beer goggles — or I’m guessing wine goggles, given she has her favorite drink (bottles of which are stashed throughout her apartment).

Days of Wine and Neuroses is a must-see episode that showcases exactly what Kirstie Alley helped make cheers. It shows why everyone quickly knew the name Rebecca Howe even though the odds were against her at first — and why the name Kirstie Alley will always be remembered.

Stream “Days of Wine and Neuroses” on Peacock

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