Season 5, Episode 10: Everyone Imitates Art


Original Air Date: December 4, 1986.

Written By:  Heide Perlman

Plot: Diane receives a kind rejection letter from an elite poetry publication, and takes it in the best way possible.  The bar sees the form letter for what it is, and Sam submits a poem to prove his point.  Everyone is shocked when it is published, including Diane, who doesn't recognize it as one of her own.

Thoughts: This episode!  My emotions!  Finally, we get some substance and movement in the Sam and Diane relationship!  This episode is exciting, not just for the Sam and Diane bits (though they are completely awesome) but for the insight into Diane's character.  Just when you think you know this woman, she goes and surprises you with yet another facet of her personality.  

For all of Diane's intellectual pretense and superiority, she's always seemed essentially content at Cheers.  The lowbrow environment and jibes of its clientele seem to generally roll right off her plucky little shoulders.  One assumes that she's basically at home and at peace with her current state of affairs, even as she continues to study and pursue her outside interests.  Here, we get a glimpse into the darker bits of her psyche, when Sam's poem is published on the heels of her rejection.  Her downward spiral is fast and furious, as she devotes herself completely to debunking his newfound status as poet laureate of the bar.  She is manic and obsessed, even taking up chain smoking to cope with this reversal.  Ultimately, she breaks down in front of everyone, and her speech, directed at herself as much as Sam and the rest, reveals a deep and unsettling sadness, heretofore unseen, but which is endemic to the whole series: 

"You win, Sam.  I've struggled… so hard, for so long to keep my dreams alive, and I haven't fooled anyone but myself.  I know all along you all considered me a pretentious, self-deluded windbag, and apparently, you've all been right.  I'm never going to be Diane Chambers, the great poet, the world-famous novelist, the revered artist.  I've gone as high as I'm going to go.  I'm a waitress in a beer hall… and not a very good one.  A waitress.  A waitress.  A waitress…"

Somebody hug this woman!  Sam has gone too far in his efforts to "rub her smug little nose in it" and has sent her crashing over an emotional cliff.  Thankfully, he's also there to rescue her from her self-flagellation and despair, and hurries her into the back room to reveal the truth about his poem, and here's where the good Sam and Diane stuff happens.

Diane's breakdown forces Sam to show his hand-- something he hadn't intended to do when he submitted Diane's work to the magazine.  He'd assumed he'd get a rejection letter just like hers, and never have to reveal his source.  Instead, unwilling to watch her suffer another minute, he must tell her the truth-- he'd not only submitted one of her poems, but it was from a letter she'd written him two years ago.  He'd saved her letters!  After her initial joy at being published, Diane realizes she has something more to be happy about and she rushes headlong into Sam's arms, because despite all of his protests, she knows he loves her.  And no one knows Sam better than Diane.

Sam feels compelled to make one last stand against that notion.  Perhaps he's not quite ready to open his heart up to her, but whatever the reason, he pushes her away again.  After he tells her he doesn't love her, he has to wipe his tears when she leaves the room.  Oh, Sam…  It's a lie, immediately revealed by how carefully he returns her letter to the stack of correspondence tied neatly with a red ribbon.  Thankfully, she catches him in the act, and despite his chagrin and all the heartache in this episode, it's a happy ending.  Yaaaaaaaayyyyyy!!!

Random: The way Diane says "po-emme".

 "How are you, love of my life?" "Just fine, pain in my neck." "It's not a rejection letter, per se. It's a soon and inevitably to be accepted letter." "I'm gonna show you that I can be as much of a reject as you." "Nocturne by Sam Malo--oohhhh!!" "Diane, come on, please… book are our friends." "Very well. I've arrived at my objective opinion. This is one of the most amateurish, hackneyed, odious pieces of effluvium ever to wash down the pike." "All she does is read, read, read. I bet she goes through a book a week." "Well, maybe this little literary chat wasn't such a good idea. Wanna make out?" "You look almost lifelike." "Sam the bard." "Miss, could you take our order?" "Sit in the big chair." "You are scum." "How could I not recognize this exquisite fluidity? The characteristic Chambers grace in the face of hard imagery..." "You mean I have to go out and tell the whole bar I'm not a poet?" "Don't you ever ever again try to tell me that you don't love me." "You love me now as you always did, madly and completely." "My letters…"