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A Happiness Lesson From Frasier Crane

frasier logoYesterday I was re-watching an episode of the now-canceled TV series, “Frasier”, which is about noted Seattle radio-psychologist Frasier Crane.

Both Frasier and his brother, Niles, are fastidious, snobby, and fussy, with gourmet tastes. They’re obsessed with knowing the right people and climbing up the social ladder (yet they’re both very likable).

In their eternal quest to move up in life, Frasier and Niles sometimes forget that they also need to stop to enjoy and appreciate the here and now. In Episode 11 of Season 10, titled “The Door”, the brothers learn the consequences of always chasing after the proverbial carrot. Read what happens below.

The Allure of Exclusivity

At the start of the episode, Frasier is standing in the living room of his apartment with his dad and with Niles. He’s holding a letter meant for one of his neighbors, Cam Winston, which was delivered to Frasier by mistake. Curiosity gets the better of him and Frasier opens the letter.

He discovers that it’s an invitation to a place called “La Porte D’Argent”, which neither he nor Niles has heard of. In Frasier’s own words, “Yes, but that’s what’s so intriguing, Dad, that there exists an exclusive place in Seattle that neither of us knows about.”

Frasier and Niles decide to go down to “La Porte D’Argent” to see what it is. Frasier arrives first, but the receptionist won’t let him in because he’s not “on the list”. When Niles walks in, Frasier calls him Cam Winston—whose name is on the list—so they’re both allowed in. They discover that ‘La Porte D’Argent’ is an exclusive day spa.

The Silver Level

Once they’re finally allowed into “La Porte D’Argent”, Frasier and Niles are given a folder containing a description of the spa’s services. They sit down to look through the list of treatments that are available and are thrilled by their choices.

After they’ve been rubbed and scrubbed, the brothers are ecstatic and are singing the spa’s praises:

Niles: I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea it would be this good! I feel like I’ve been rubbed by angels.

Frasier: Niles, I just wish you had tried the vusattasen aqua-treatment. I feel as if I’d had a re-birthing experience. I’ve never felt better in my life.

Niles: I’m so polished my entire body is squeaking.

That’s when an elderly gentleman whom they recognize as Senator Ogden walks by, and passes through a gold door which the brothers hadn’t previously noticed.

Frasier remarks to Niles: “Oh, Niles, this just gets better and better. Balanced skin and social advancement all in one setting.” However, when the brothers try to follow Senator Ogden, they’re denied access to the area behind the gold door.

The aesthetician lets them know that only “gold level members” have access to the gold door:

Clerk: I’m sorry. That area is restricted to our gold level members.

Niles: You have a gold level? How do you get in?

Clerk: You’d have to be on the list.

Frasier: Well, we ARE on the list.

Clerk: The GOLD list.

Frasier: This is absurd! I am a member of every exclusive club in this entire town. You must have a reciprocal membership with one of them.

Clerk: I’m sorry. But you’re more than welcome to enjoy the many
amenities of the silver level.

Frasier: And just how are we supposed to enjoy this!?

In one fell swoop what they had been referring to as “Nirvana” just a few minutes earlier turns into a “hell hole”, because they discovered that there was a gold level which they couldn’t enter. When the brothers arrive at Frasier’s apartment and their dad asks them how the spa was, here’s Frasier’s answer:

Frasier: It was a hell-hole! They had the nerve to call it a day spa, when it’s nothing more than a mere front for a bona fide luxury spa which taunts those kept at bay outside its golden door!

Frasier’s Dad: If you didn’t go in, how do you know it’s better?

Frasier: It had to be! The door was gold, ours was only silver. Gold is better than silver.

Both Frasier and Niles comb through their Rolodexes trying to find someone who can gain them access to the gold level at “La Porte D’Argent”, but with no luck. They’re discussing their plight at Café Nervosa in front of Frasier’s producer, Roz. Here’s what Roz tells them:

“It’s a spa! How much better could it be? I mean, are they gonna carry you around like a sultan? You gonna be massaged by supermodels? And what if you do get through the gold door? What next, the diamond door? And after that a titanium door! And after that a plutonium door!”

The brothers roll their eyes and scoff at Roz’s naiveté as they continue plotting how to get into the elusive gold level.

The Gold Level

It turns out that Roz knows Senator Ogden, who owes her a favor, and she gets Frasier and Niles on the gold level list. Frasier and Niles return to “La Porte D’Argent” and get their “gold level” treatments.

After his treatment, Niles is lying on a gurney wrapped up like a mummy. He has a facial and cucumber slices on his eyes. The attendant lets him know that he’s in the relaxation grotto, which is a plant-filled room with the sounds of the Javanese rainforest playing in the background, and that he’ll stay there while his wrap and mask set.

Just then, Frasier shuffles into the relaxation grotto in a robe. He’s blinking as his eyes adjust from the color-therapy treatment he just received. Frasier tells Niles how beautiful the relaxation grotto is, and Niles asks him to describe it.

Frasier describes the relaxation grotto to Niles as follows: “Well, it’s just paradise. From the rare exotic orchids, to the trompe l’oeil sky, to the perfectly bubbled stream, to the …” And that’s when Frasier sees it: there’s a Platinum Door.

Here’s the conversation that takes place between Frasier and Niles upon this discovery:

Niles: Platinum? Are you sure?

Frasier: Yes!

Niles: Is it guarded?

Frasier: No! It’s just brazenly standing there!

Niles: Then rip the cucumbers from my eyes and let’s go!

Frasier: Right!

[He takes the slices off Niles’ eyes and helps him sit up.]

Frasier: Niles! What are we doing? This is exactly what Roz said! This is heaven, right here and now! Why do we have to think about someplace else?

Niles: This is only heaven to the people that can’t get into the real heaven. The platinum heaven.

Frasier: Niles, why can’t we be happy? Why must we allow the thought of something that at this point can only be incrementally better ruin what is here and now?

Niles: I don’t know. Let’s figure it out on the other side!

Frasier: No! I am through chasing the eternal carrot. Whatever is behind that door shall remain behind that door, unseen!

The Platinum Door (or The Dumpster)

Despite Frasier’s objections, Niles is adamant to see what’s on the other side of the Platinum Door. He manages to get himself off the gurney, but since he’s wrapped up he can only shuffle forward a few inches at a time. Frasier folds and decides to help Niles to the Platinum Door and to “take a peek”.

They manage to get to the Platinum Door, they open it, and they walk through. As the door shuts and locks itself behind them, the brothers realize that they’ve walked out into an alley, and that they’re standing next to the trash dumpster. They desperately start knocking on the door trying to get back into the spa, but no one hears them.


Sitcoms exaggerate because they have to make their point in half-an-hour. However, the lesson from this episode of Frasier is this: you’ll never be happy if your happiness depends on always achieving the next milestone, and always “walking through the next door”.

One of life’s great paradoxes is the following: you should strive to build a better life for yourself, while understanding that the greenest grass is right underneath your feet.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rachel Taylor June 5, 2013, 3:54 pm

    ha ha! Brilliant! I miss Frasier… and that is a salutory lesson.

  • Marelisa June 5, 2013, 4:17 pm

    Hi Rachel: I miss Frasier, too. When I’m doing repetitious work I like to play the old Frasier episodes in the background. The writing on that show is simply brilliant.