The show was set in a local watering hole in Boston, a place where "everybody knows your name." The bar was based off a real Beantown bar know as the Bull and Finch Pub on 84 Beacon Street. I had the chance to go last winter and loved it. The bar still somewhat resembles the show stage, at least in terms of the front door and some of the decor. The sign from the show still hangs out front, and memorabilia adorns the walls.
When the show first aired in 1982, it finished dead last in the ratings week one. The network considered cancelling, but decided to keep it. Good thing they did, because the show would go on to win 28 Emmys on 117 nominations.
Diane chambers was Sam's girlfriend and a waitress up until season 5. An intellectual, most of the things she said went right over the rest of the patrons heads. However, her character showed the incredible depth of the writers, and this type of writing made Frasier what it became. Kirstie Alley joined the show after Diane's departure, and divided Cheers loyal fans. She was a huge contrast to Diane, and many didn't like it. Carla was another hotheaded waitress played by Rhea Perlman (formerly married to Danny Devito), who got her start on Taxi (made by the same writers. George Wendt and Ted Danson also got their starts there). Nicholas Colasanto played a bartender for 3 seasons before passing away just before season 3 ended. Instead of rewriting the character, Woody Harrelson joined the show, launching a wildly successful acting career. He spent 8 seasons on Cheers and was widely loved. There were many more great characters (Lillith, Paul, John Allen Hill, Phil) but I will stop here-don't want to spoil all of the fun!
Many celebrities made cameos during the shows duration. Tip O'Neill, John Kerry, Kevin McHale, Spanky from the Little Rascals and many more made appearances. The show also tackled many social issues of the time, many debates of which are still going on today.
The tavern setting in Cheers was a safe haven for the characters America came to love. All of them had their faults, and one could argue that many came to the pub to run away from the rest of the problems of the world. Hiding under the veil of drinking is not a proper excuse, but is reflective of many in today's society. Many at Cheers were social outcasts, awkward individuals or those with no close friends or family. As the song says, "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name." Such a simple thought, but a beautiful one.
The show was truly a magnificent piece of art, and one that I have watched and rewatched and rewatched again. Watch it in pieces, binge watch it, but at least check it out. Such a fun show that anyone can enjoy. And it so happens all 11 seasons are on Netflix!
Additionally, the theme has been rated as the best TV theme song of all time by numerous outlets. Here are a few articles about the song: http://www.tvguide.com/news/greatest-tv-theme-songs-60-1064098.aspx