Any writer who wants to establish the snobbery of a character has only to throw in a line in which the elitist corrects someone's grammar. It's quick realistic and obvious. But the characters aren't to blame. They were made that way. I'm not about to start tilting at fictional windbags.
And what television character is written to be more of a snob than Frasier Crane? Well maybe Diane Chambers...
One possibly nuanced exchange from season 9 of Frasier caught my attention. This was written into episode 12: Mother Load: Part 1.
Frasier and Martin commenting on Daphne's decision to move out of Frasier's home so she can live with Niles:
Martin : Well I guess from now on it's just you and I.
Frasier : "You and me" Dad.
Martin : [sarcastically] This is gonna be great.
Just how many characterizations did writer Lori Kirkland fold into this exchange?
- Frasier is a snob.
- He's a prescriptivist.
- He's aware of hypercorrection -- specifically that the nominative I is often used when the dative/accusative me is the prescribed form.
- He's so eager to make the distinction that he ignores an opportunity to connect with his father and instead remarks on his grammar.
- He's so eager to show his knowledge that he offers an 'incorrection' to an utterance that he mistakenly thinks is a hypercorrection.
Frasier was one of those 'intelligent' award-winning shows, which I've come to think simply means that the critics think they caught a bunch of jokes that most viewers probably missed.
But a bit of dialogue like this in which the snob is left unchallenged --an unresolved fallibility in which a peevologist hamming it up could be hoist with his own petard but gets away with it -- might be a well-crafted portrait deserving of the praise usually slathered on tired literary references and bad puns.