Sam and Diane
Sam Malone and Diane Chambers, collectively known as Sam and Diane, are fictional characters in the American situation comedy television series Cheers. Sam Malone is a working-class, retired athlete-turned-bartender played by Ted Danson; Diane Chambers is a college-graduate cocktail waitress played by Shelley Long. Danson appeared on Cheers for its entire run of the series; Long was part of the regular cast from the 1982 series premiere ("Give Me a Ring Sometime") until the fifth-season finale, "I Do, Adieu" (1987). Long returned for a special appearance in the 1993 series finale, "One for the Road."
During the first five seasons Sam and Diane both flirt with and condemn each other as social opposites, repeatedly consummating their relationship and breaking up. When they are not together, Sam has affairs with many women; Diane has relationships with men fitting her upper-class aspirations, such as Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer). Each of the first four season finales ends with a cliffhanger. In "I Do, Adieu" (1987) Sam and Diane are due to marry, but they cancel the wedding when Diane leaves Sam and Cheers to begin a career as a writer. In the series finale Sam and Diane are reunited, become engaged and break up again, realizing that they are never meant to be together.
The pairing of Sam and Diane was said to be "the most discussed since Romeo and Juliet", but it has evoked mixed reactions. Some critics disliked the relationship, either for alienating viewers by dominating the show (and removing its original premise) or because they saw Sam and Diane as a mismatch. Others praised the pair, seeing them as strengthening the show. Some writers compared them to couples in later shows, such as Moonlighting and Friends, with their sexual tension and intermittent relationships.
- 1 Creation and casting
- 2 Writing development
- 3 Relationship
- 4 Reception
- 5 Influence
- 6 Bibliography
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
Creation and casting
The creators of Cheers, Glen and Les Charles and James Burrows, originally planned Sam and Diane to be an ex-athlete and an executive businesswoman involved in a "love-hate" relationship. The concept evolved into a "pretentious, college-student relationship with Sam," an ex-baseball player. After Shelley Long's departure from the show and was replaced with Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe, the original concept was revisited.
Before Cheers premiered in September 1982, the creators auditioned three pairings of six actors, three male and three female, for their respective roles: William Devane and Lisa Eichhorn, Fred Dryer and Julia Duffy, and Ted Danson and Shelley Long. Originally, Sam Malone was "a former wide receiver for the New England Patriots [football team]", and Fred Dryer was initially considered for that role because he was a football player. However, NBC executives praised test scenes between Ted Danson and Shelley Long, so the creators chose this pairing. Sam's character was changed into a former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
We tried all kinds of combinations. Casting is vital, especially in this show where there's sexual dynamics tension between the two main characters. That hasn't been tried in a sitcom before.—Glen Charles, United Press International, July 11, 1982
Glen and Les Charles and James Burrows intended to use a "mixture of romance and antagonism" from movies starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn for Sam and Diane, but they decided to scrap it. Heide Perlman said, "It wasn't quite Tracy-Hepburn, because she was a tight-ass, and he was a hound." The creators had intended Cheers to be a comedy about "family" of characters in a Boston bar, but quickly realized that the "Sam and Diane" romance was popular and decided that every episode would depict it. Burrows told the others several weeks after filming began, "Sam & Diane – that's your show." The "Sam and Diane" romance dominated the show for five years. As Burrows hypothesized, the couple would have diminished the importance and relevance of the bar setting if Long had not left the show in 1987.
While the writers were developing the sexual tension between the two characters in the first season, the Charles brothers recognized that the relationship had to mature, so they paired them up in the first season finale. With the exceptions of Long's last regular episode "I Do, Adieu" (1987) and the series finale "One for the Road", every season finale that primarily focuses on Sam and Diane ends with a cliffhanger. With Long leaving Cheers, producers planned to revamp the show without losing its initial premise, and credited Long's departure for saving the series from cancellation. As Les Charles observed, Sam was a "straight man" to Diane; after Long's departure, he became more "carefree" and a "goof-off" in later seasons.
Season 1: 1982–1983
Shelley Long said in January 1983, "the core of the show is Sam and Diane ... the relationship has a wonderful chemistry, although they try to resist each other". She said that the producers felt that the producers did not want the relationship to proceed too quickly. The creators stated that Long and Danson "were easier to write for and had more potential than [other tested auditioning pairs]."
In the series premiere, "Give Me a Ring Sometime" (1982), Diane Chambers, a college student, enters Cheers and meets Sam Malone, a recovering alcoholic and a womanizer. While she waits for her fiancé Sumner, Diane realizes that Sumner has left her, and that she is jobless and penniless with nothing else in her life. Sam offers Diane a job as a cocktail waitress, and she accepts. Throughout the season, Sam and Diane are involved in numerous scenes of flirtation and rejection, but they never consummate their relationship. In "Sam's Women" (1982), Diane mocks Sam's preference for unintelligent women and then assures Sam that he would not win a "smart woman" after a series of unsuccessful dates. However, Sam compares Diane's eyes to a blue sky and Diane is nearly touched, which she then denies. In "Sam at Eleven" (1982), when Sam's post-career interview is cut short, Diane wants to cheer him up. Sam tries to kiss Diane, but she flips him onto the pool table and chides him for his actions. Nevertheless, she is reluctantly curious about the kiss and, to make up for it, asks to hear more of his baseball stories. In "Diane's Perfect Date" (1983), after their disastrous dates, Sam and Diane realize that they may be a perfect match for each other.
In "No Contest" (1983), Sam registers Diane into the Miss Barmaid Contest, which she considers sexist and degrading to women. She finds out and becomes angry about this, so she plans to ruin the contest. However, she wins the contest, accepts the prizes—which include two tickets to Bermuda—and takes the holiday with a man other than Sam, which "[sexualizes and liberates]" her. In "Someone Single, Someone Blue" (1983), Diane plans to marry Sam so she can inherit her father's fortune, but Sam is distracted by another woman. The pair argue, but Diane's mother stops the wedding, which foils her plan.
In "Showdown, Part One" (1983), the penultimate episode of the season, Sam's successful, handsome, well-educated brother Derek, arrives at the bar. Sam has been envious of Derek's success, but Diane thinks he is handsome. Sam gives his blessing to Diane and Derek, who start dating each other. In the season finale, Diane cannot decide between successful Derek and "bubblegum" Sam. Later, Sam and Diane admit their feelings for each other and Sam's jealousy and Diane's feelings for Derek. After arguing and insulting each other, Sam and Diane kiss passionately in the bar's office.
Season 2: 1983–1984
Throughout the second season of Cheers, Sam and Diane consummate their relationship, which becomes dysfunctional. Sam and Diane love each other but maintain their antagonistic relationship style toward each other. Their pride and jealousy are often the cause of conflict, and their characteristic bickering continues, though often their love for each other overcomes any problems, such as their on-off relationship. Major conflicts arise toward the end of the second season. In "Fortune and Men's Weight" (1984), Diane admits to Sam that she spent a platonic evening with a fellow student who shares her common interests, and feels guilty for not telling Sam. In "Snow Job" (1984), Sam plans to have a weekend of debauchery with his friends on a ski trip, and he hides it from Diane. Carla tells Diane about Sam's trip and Diane takes advantage of Sam's lies to teach him a lesson.
In the two-part season finale, "I'll Be Seeing You" (1984), Philip Semenko (Christopher Lloyd), an arrogant, eccentric painter, whom Sam wants to commission for a portrait of Diane, comes to the bar. Sam strongly dislikes Semenco but Diane praises his talent and begs Sam to do the same, but Sam orders her not to sit for him. However, Diane is convinced that Sam will appreciate the final work despite his reaction to the artist, and has Semenko paint the portrait. Sam hires a lesser artist, who produces a botched portrait of Diane. When she takes the wrapped portrait by Semenko into the bar, Sam and Diane begin to argue until she declares that she is through with the fighting. Finally, Sam and Diane break up with no intention to be together again. At the cliffhanger, Sam unwraps Semenko's portrait and says "Wow!"
Season 3: 1984–1985
In summer 1984, before the third season premiere, The show's producers announced the character Frasier Crane, portrayed by Kelsey Grammer, was to be Diane's love interest and Sam's intellectual rival. They intended for Diane to end her relationship with Frasier within a few episodes, and for him to leave the show, but Grammer's performance was well-received, so his role was extended for the whole season. Long was still married to stockbroker Bruce Tyson and was pregnant with his child, and it was speculated that a storyline involving Diane Chambers's out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and that either Sam or Frasier would be the father. The producers deemed the pregnancy idea undesirable and abandoned it. Instead, Diane was written as childless.
In the two-part season premiere, "Rebound" (1984), within months after her breakup with Sam, Diane meets psychiatrist Frasier Crane in a psychiatric hospital and begins to date him. Meanwhile, spurred by the collapse of his romance with Diane, Sam relapses into alcoholism. When she leaves the hospital, Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) tells Diane about Sam's relapse. Diane and Frasier help Sam to regain his sobriety. When Diane refuses to work as a waitress again, Coach convinces Diane that Sam will relapse again, tells Sam that Diane will lose her mind if she leaves Cheers again, and convinces Frasier that Sam and Diane will long for each other if she does not return to work there. Diane returns to Cheers as a waitress.
In "I Call Your Name" (1984), Frasier admits to Sam that Diane calls out Sam's name during sex. Diane finds out and becomes furious at Frasier for telling Sam about this, but the pair make up, though her attraction to Sam is still evident. In "Diane's Allergy" (1984), Diane moves into Frasier's apartment and becomes allergic, which she believes is caused by Frasier's bitch puppy Pavlov. Frasier gives Pavlov to Sam, who renames her "Diane". However, Diane suffers allergies and the apartment renovated to alleviate her suffering . Later, Frasier regrets giving up the puppy and begs Sam to return her; Sam declares that he loves "Diane", which Diane interprets his as a confession of his love for her.
In "A Ditch in Time" (1984), Diane confesses to Sam that she told many stories about their relationship, whom she referred to as "Ralph", to everyone at a psychiatric ward. In one story, Sam gave her steak knives on Christmas, and Diane knitted a scarf for him, but they did not like each other's gifts. In another, Diane cooked a seven-course dinner for Sam's birthday, but he ate a burger anyway. She relates the events in the episode "Snow Job" (1984), in which Sam concocts a funeral story to conceal his womanizing plans from her. In another, she wanted a first date right after, in "Power Play" (1983), they made love, but Sam watched a football game instead. After hearing these examples, Sam apologizes and admits that he failed to be a "very good boyfriend", but tells her he never tried harder with any other relationship than theirs, and that the good times with her were some of the best of his life.
In "The Heart Is the Lonely Snipe Hunter" (1985), Diane feels sorry for Frasier, who finds his job at the psychiatric ward stressful, and wants the boys, including the "ringleader" Sam, to invite him to a snipe hunt. Although they find him dull and boring, the boys invite him anyway. She discovers that the boys purposely abandon him, while Frasier snipe hunts alone. Diane chides them for that and then convinces them to find Frasier. Frasier returns apparently proud and happy to be part of the gang, which worries Diane. At the end of the episode, Frasier tells Diane, much to her relief, he knew that the game was fabricated and plans to abandon the bar patrons in another snipe hunting game.
Later in "Cheerio, Cheers" (1985), Sam is told of Diane's plans to leave Boston with Frasier for London. At night in the bar, Sam and Diane try to have sex after their passionate embrace, but realize that they are not sure what else to do in their future together. Before she leaves, Sam advises her to call him if she wants to revive their relationship again. Diane arrives in London with Frasier and then calls Sam at the bar to tell him. Despite her obvious misgivings about her relationship with Frasier, and Sam's pain at her choice, Diane stays in Europe with Frasier. She contacts Sam in several episodes before the season finale "Rescue Me" (1985), in which Frasier proposes to Diane in Italy; she accepts and tells Sam about it by telephone. Suddenly, Sam daydreams of stopping the wedding. Back in reality, Carla assures Sam that he is still a womanizer, regardless of his feelings about Diane. With the help of Cliff Clavin's (John Ratzenberger) travel reservation, Sam goes to Italy to stop Diane from marrying Frasier. Diane tries to call Sam but hears part of his answering machine message, and then hangs up. Frasier and Diane are set to be married immediately.
Season 4: 1985–1986
In the season premiere, "Birth, Death, Love, and Rice" (1985), Sam arrives too late to stop Diane and Frasier's wedding. Several months later, Sam discovers that Diane had abandoned Frasier at the altar and feeling guilty for her promiscuity, joins a convent. Sam rescues her and gives her back her job at Cheers. Throughout the season, Sam and Diane try to simply be friends again, fighting their attraction to each other, while Frasier spends his time at Cheers, drinking beer and wallowing in his loss of Diane.
In "The Triangle" (1986), Sam and Diane feel bad about Frasier's deterioration, so they plan to help him regain his self-confidence by making Sam feign symptoms. Frasier concludes that Sam is still in love with Diane and advises him to tell her. For Frasier's sake, Sam and Diane try to be in love but begin arguing again, and Sam furiously tells Frasier that he and Diane faked their love for each other to help Frasier sober up and boost his self-esteem. Frasier angrily tells Sam and Diane that they still love each other but deny and loathe their feelings. He declares himself not to be part of their love triangle it and walks away.
In "Fear Is My Co-Pilot", Sam and Diane are caught in a life-or-death situation in a small airplane when the pilot, Diane's adventurous ex-lover Jack Dalton (Joseph Whipp), seems to have died. They confess their love for each other and their regret at not having married and had children. When their pilot turns out to be meditating, and they survive the ordeal, they agree that they must forget their conversation.
In "Diane Chambers Day", Diane feels that the gang, including Sam, have left her out for not doing and appreciating their activities. Frasier suggests that Sam and the gang take her out to an opera, where everyone, including Diane, falls asleep during the performance. Later at the bar, Diane and Sam rekindle their romance alone. Diane assumes that the opera was Sam's idea, but as they are leaving to have sex, Sam admits that the opera was Frasier's idea. Diane is touched by this revelation and declares herself more attracted to Sam than ever. Although Sam still wants to have sex, Diane kindly tells him that it is too soon to consummate their special relationship. In "Relief Bartender", Sam has a fling with another woman, which makes Diane jealous.
In the three-part season finale "Strange Bedfellows" (1986), Sam dates an intellectual politician, Janet Eldridge (Kate Mulgrew), whom Diane opposes politically. When Sam and Janet start and then continue dating, Diane accuses Janet of using Sam for political purposes, not loving him, and planning to dump him. Janet claims that Sam makes this relationship exciting. After the election is over, Janet and Sam are still together, much to Diane's dismay. One night in the bar, Diane overhears Janet ask Sam to fire Diane, but Diane resigns the next day. At Janet's press conference in the bar, Diane questions Sam and Janet's future together, resulting in a conflict between Sam and Diane, which humiliates Janet. Finally, Janet breaks up with Sam because she feels that he is still in love with Diane. At the end of the final installment, Sam dials the telephone and proposes marriage to the call's unknown recipient.
Season 5: 1986–1987
In the season premiere "The Proposal" (1986), the unseen character is revealed to be Diane Chambers. Although she is thrilled, Diane tells Sam that a proposal by telephone is not how she envisioned getting engaged. Sam agrees and invites her for a night of romance on a yacht, where he proposes again. Diane rejects him, thinking that Sam is proposing on the rebound from Janet. Diane wants to marry Sam, but Sam is furious with her for turning him down. Regardless, Diane returns to work at the bar and waits for Sam to propose again. Meanwhile, they continue dating other people. In "Chambers vs. Malone" (1987), after Sam proposes again and Diane rejects him, Sam chases Diane up the street, causing her to fall and injure herself. Diane charges Sam with assault, leading to a trial. In the courtroom, at the judge's behest, Sam proposes to Diane again, and she finally accepts. In "A House Is Not a Home", Sam and Diane buy a house together.
In the season finale "I Do, Adieu" (1987), Diane's ex-fiancé, Sumner Sloan, who dumped her in the series pilot, returns to Cheers and tells Diane that he sent one of her unfinished manuscripts to his colleague, who praised it and gave it to the publishers. Although Diane is excited, Sumner warns her that simultaneously being married and having a career is impossible, and that choosing marriage over career would put her talents to waste. Later, Sam and Diane want to be married immediately at the bar. At the wedding, Diane receives a telephone call informing her that the publisher wants her work, but she must finish it immediately. Although she wants to be married to Sam, he convinces Diane to finish the book and delay the wedding, so that she has no regrets about giving up her dream of being a great writer. In their last scene together, Diane tells Sam that she will return to him for six months, but Sam doubts it. She leaves Boston behind to pursue her writing career.
Long decided to leave the series to develop her movie career and family, and the characters' relationship story was concluded, even though she and Danson "[had] done some really terrific work at Cheers". In February 1987, the creators decided to replace Diane with a female lead without blonde hair or any other resemblances to Long, while Danson signed a contract for the next season (1987–1988).
Series finale: 1993
In 1993, media debated whether Sam should be with Diane or her replacement, Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Allie). According to the April 1–4, 1993, telephone survey of 1,011 people by the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press (now Pew Research Center), Sam Malone was voted a favorite character of 26 percent, and Diane Chambers was the favorite of 4 percent. When asked whom Sam should marry, 21 percent favored Diane, 19 percent favored Rebecca, 48 percent favored neither, and 12 percent had "no opinion" on this matter. According to a 1993 article from People magazine, newspaper columnist Mike Royko chose Diane to be with Sam, novelist Jackie Collins picked Rebecca, Zsa Zsa Gabor chose both as Sam's potential partners, tennis player Martina Navratilova found Sam too good for either of them, and novelist and archaeologist Clive Cussler perceived Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) as "Sam's best bet."
In the series finale, "One for the Road," after six years of separation, Sam watches Diane win an award for writing a cable television movie and sends her a congratulatory telegram. Diane accepts Sam's invitation on the telephone. The following day, Sam and Diane reunite at last. Diane confesses to Sam that six months of leaving Boston in 1987, her novel was not published but became a television movie, and she did not want to return to Cheers as a failure. They both admit that despite their good times, they are never meant to be together because they are total opposites. As Diane prepares to leave Boston again, Sam stops her and begs her to have sex with him for old times' sake. The next day, they are engaged again and then plan to move to Los Angeles together. However, as the airplane is leaving Boston, they have doubts about their relationship with help of rhetorical questions from announcers. Their flight is delayed, so Sam and Diane end their relationship once more, parting as friends as they have made their peace after their many years apart. Sam returns to Boston and Diane returns to Los Angeles.
Bret Watson from Entertainment Weekly wrote in 1994 that because of Sam's flirtation with Diane in Cheers might be seen as politically incorrect "sexual harassment" by 1990s standards. At the 2009 Comic-Con, Johnny Galecki, the actor of the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory, said that "not all couples meet, get together, and marry" and exemplified Sam and Diane as "a non-traditional relationship [with] awkward breakup stories." In 2011, Beth Brindle from HowStuffWorks called their relationship "completely unrealistic".
Julia Ward from The Huffington Post considered that Sam and Diane's relationship was one of "inevitable, yet doomed romances." According to Paige Wiser of Chicago Sun Times, Walter Podrazik, the author of Watching TV wrote that the characters were the central focus of Cheers until Shelley Long left in 1987. Robert David Sullivan wrote that trying to change each other and hurting each other put a toll on Sam and Diane's relationship in the second season. The A.V. Club graded it A-, noting Sam's "insecurities" about his intelligence and Diane's enthusiasm toward "pretentious creative types".
Sam and Diane's relationship has received mixed reviews. Mike Boone of the Montreal Gazette wrote that once the relationship was consummated, the sexual tension evaporated, that the characters' relationship dominated the series and then alienated viewers and critics alike, and that they "diminished the appeal of Cheers". Cheers won an Emmy in 1984 for Outstanding Comedy Series, but, because it was perceived to be dominated by Sam and Diane during the second season (1983–1984), Fred Rothenberg from the Associated Press wrote that the show did not deserve to win an award. Ron Weiskind of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also wrote that the series suffered after Sam and Diane became lovers.
Rick Sherwood, a television critic, wrote that although the sexual tension between Sam and Diane provided a focus for the program's other characters, the later romance between them and "the removal of the love-hate subplot [caused] much of the edge of the series [to be] lost". Moreover, it lessened his interest on the show, and Diane's affair with Frasier Crane "made things worse". Ron Weiskind of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that the relationship "ran out of steam long ago" and was relieved when Long's departure ended it.
Dave & Dave from WQED-TV wrote, "The whole Sam-Dianne [sic] thing got in the way of a lot of humor but the sight [of] George [sic] and Cliffy sitting at the bar makes me laugh every time". In 2010, Sharon Knolle from Huffington Post placed them fourth in the top 10 of "Worst TV Couples Ever" and wrote, "When Diane showed up on the series finale and nearly got back together with Sam, we were honestly relieved when they both realized [a marriage between them] would be a terrible mistake." Steve Silverman from the Screen Junkies website wrote that Diane was "too needy and insecure for anyone, [like Sam], to have a legitimate relationship with." Robert Galvin from the Mail Tribune newspaper criticized the relationship for its lack of "common sense". Kevin Fitzpatrick of the UGO Entertainment placed the pair second of "the Most Absolutely Awful TV Couples".
Josh Robertson of Complex website called Diane a "total drag" and "almost impossible to [be] in a sexual situation." Robertson considered Diane's replacement, Rebecca Howe, "way more attractive than Diane" and named Sam and Rebecca, instead of Sam and Diane, one of "The 25 Most Sexual Sitcom Couples of All Time".
Sam and Diane's relationship has also received positive reviews. Gabe Lett in his book, Let's Get Together: Building Community in the Church, called the relationship of Sam and Diane full of "childish love banter and tumultuous romance" yet intriguing. Critics from The A.V. Club wrote that the characters' relationship of Sam and Diane was fun to watch and did not spoil Cheers, and that the show's genius laid in the fact that that the writers were allowed to risk alienating the audience. A critic from CraveOnline wrote, "The ill-fated love affair of a prissy barmaid and a retired, egomaniacal relief pitcher made an art out of teasing a love story ... and selected Cheers as one of "the Best TV Romance Shows" as of January 28, 2011. Noel Murray from The A.V. Club called them one of "[Ten] TV Romances For The Ages." Jessica Piha and Jean Goon from MSN wrote that the pair were one of their top favorite couples on television. Bill Simmons, a writer previously for ESPN, praised their sexual tension but disdained their engagement as the "jumping the shark" moment. Their relationship was included in TV Guide 's list of the best TV couples of all time.
In 1993, George Wendt, who played Norm Peterson, told Los Angeles Times that "the first two or three years" of stories of Sam and Diane were his favorite seasons of Cheers. Meanwhile, in Sacramento bars, some bar patrons were not satisfied with the series finale and thought that Sam and Diane should have been together at the end. In 2002, Mathew Gilbert of The Boston Globe wrote that Sam and Diane were one of "TV's classic couples." In 2004, they were ranked by cable television channel Bravo at No. 50 of "Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters" of all-time. In 2007, IGN placed Sam and Diane at the top of IGN's Top 10 Favorite TV Couples. In 2008, the blog Mostly Modern Media called their relationship a type of "can’t live with, can’t live without" relationship and "wonderfully complex." Xfinity considers them one of "the 50 Greatest TV Characters" of all-time, their relationship "one of TV's greatest on-and-off love-hate relationships," and their kiss one of "Top 20 TV Kisses" of all-time.
In 2004, Gillian Flynn of Entertainment Weekly considered the couple one of her favorite sitcom couples. In 2012, Mandi Bierly and Henning Fog called them one of "30 Best 'Will They/Won't They?' TV Couples" in history.
Praise for the character pairing continued after 2010; David Hofstede from The Huffington Post placed their kisses at number 7 on the site's "10 Best Smooches in Television". Jane Boursaw, also from The Huffington Post and Amy K. Bredemeyer from The Talking Box blog called the wedding of Sam and Diane one of their favorite "weddings that didn't happen". Oliver Miller from The Huffington Post wanted the couple to be together but found their breakups heartbreaking, especially their final breakup in the series finale. UGO.com put their break-up on its list of the most horrible TV breakups.
Comparison to other couples
Jeremy Ross of the "Youth beat" section of Observer–Reporter considered Sam and Diane "the most discussed since Romeo and Juliet" and the model for later television romances. Josh Bell from About.com called them "the template for countless future sitcom couples [filled] with sexual tension". Diana E. Lundin from Los Angeles Daily News and Fred Rothenberg from Associated Press considered the pairing the next Rhoda (Valerie Harper) and Joe (David Groh) from the 1970s television show Rhoda, with respect to the decline of the show and of the relationship itself, especially after marriage and divorce. A critic from the Big Shiny Robot website and Cynthia Greenwood from The Complete Idiot's Guide... book wrote that the pairing was comparable to Beatrice and Benedick from William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing, filled with tension and insults that conceal each other's feelings for each other.
According to Howard Rosenberg of Los Angeles Times, Glenn Caron, executive producer of Moonlighting, said, " ... I think it's masochistic to take two people who seem destined for each other and ask an audience not to see them get together". Entertainment Weekly called Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) the "modern-day Sam and Diane". Amber Humphrey from the Film School Rejects website wrote that the unresolved sexual tension between the characters from Flash Forward, Tucker (Ben Foster) and Becca (Jewel Staite), was comparable to that of Sam and Diane.
According to the 2009 book, All Access, Brian Robbins from Entertainment Weekly dubbed Sonny (Demi Lovato) and Chad (Sterling Knight) from Sonny with a Chance as the next "Sam and Diane". In his 2011 book, The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman, David LaRocca compares Sam and Diane to Ned (Thomas Haden Church) and Stacey (Debra Messing) from Ned & Stacey, whose romantic story is against practicing the "delayed romance strategy". In the 2012 Huffington Post article, Laura Prepon compares them to Chelsea (Laura Prepon) and Rick (Jake McDorman) of Are You There, Chelsea? Michael Hill from The Baltimore Evening Sun found similarities between the Cheers characters and real-life news anchors Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer from the television news program, Primetime Live; Hill found the similarities between both couples "remarkable".
In the novel When Angels Fail to Fly, a female character compares the sexual tension between Sam and Diane to that between David and Maddie of Moonlighting, and the first-person narrator mentions Sam and Diane's arguments "about something stupid". In the episode of Community, Sam and Diane are satirized. Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger said that, from the season three episode of How I Met Your Mother, "Everything Must Go", the taxicab ride scene of regular character Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) and recurring character Abby (Britney Spears) includes a homage to the Sam and Diane's office scene from "Showdown", which includes lines, like "Are you as turned on right now as I am?" and "More!"
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