Knees together, lips apart

alabala

Member
Romanian
Hello again,
i have another Frasier question that I'd like you to help me with, it's another scene title: Knees together, lips apart.
I know that it was inspired from knees together, hips apart, but I don't think that it is semantically related to this construction.

For those who haven't seen the episode, Frasier is a radio psychiatrist who would like to do a TV commercial, but he's afraid that this would affect his reputation as a serious psychiatrist. In order to help him decide, his brother Niles compares him to Sharon Stone, who was complaining that no one took her seriously after the Basic Instinct scene. Niles tells Frasier that people have already "looked up his skirt" when he started working on the radio and that he should do the commercial. After mentioning the movie, Niles adds that he and his wife had put their beds together after watching it and that it had not been easy since her bed was in the room across the hall.
After listening to Niles' speech, Frasier sits with his knees tightly together.

I suspect that knees together, lips apart has something to do with the fact that Niles and his wife sleep in separate beds - this would be lips apart, and knees together would relate to the fact that they are married/together. However, I'm not sure that this is what the writers meant, so if anyone has an idea, please let me know.
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I find it hard to believe that this isn't suggesting that the knees are together, through considerations of modesty - no respectable woman would sit with her knees apart in company, but the labia are open, indicating sexual eagerness.

    Frazier, is of course, male - to anticipate an objection - but he is a confused male, and part of the fun of the joke would be seeing whether he would accept so obviously suggestive a line. The comment about people having 'looked up his skirt' is linked, I'd say, to get the thought of Frasier the woman lodged emphatically in the sub-cutaneous spirit of the audience.

    I ought to add that I know absolutely nothing about this sort of thing, Albala, but people have been ducking your question and I thought I'd just make a few obvious points.
     

    alabala

    Member
    Romanian
    You may be right, but Frasier is a "serious" show, I haven't noticed any hints of vulgarity. The two brothers are always so correct, I find it hard to associate them with this interpretation.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You may be right, but Frasier is a "serious" show, I haven't noticed any hints of vulgarity. The two brothers are always so correct, I find it hard to associate them with this interpretation.
    Notice that nothing rude has actually been said. Frasier is not what I would call a 'serious' show. The few I've watched have been wonderfully funny and often based on misunderstandings.

    You may be right, however, in suggesting that this is a misunderstanding too far. I think half the point would be the clash between the obvious suggestiveness of the watchword and the correctness of the brothers.

    Let's see what someone at once familiar with the American psyche and the show thinks about it. I just know the show.
     

    alabala

    Member
    Romanian
    I didn't mean serious as opposed to funny, it's my favourite comic series.
    Could it mean that his knees are together because he doesn't want people to look up his skirt = he doesn't want a stain on his reputation, while his lips are apart = he is eager to do the commercial because it pays well?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    As I recall, Frasier has a good deal of sexual innuendo even though it's not as obvious as some shows.
    When said to a woman, "keep your knees together" means either sit like a lady or don't have sex, while the opposite, "spreading your legs", generally refers to having sex. "Lips apart" would indicate that the mouth is open, but I don't know if it's talking or kissing or something else.
    "Knees together, hips apart" is not a thing that Google and I have heard of before today.
     

    alabala

    Member
    Romanian
    That's what I meant, that it's not obvious, I didn't express myself clearly. And I was wrong about the phrase too, it was knees together, thighs apart, but I think that's irrelevant anyway.
    What do you think about my interpretation?
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I think I get it, but golly, it isn't easy to explain, which is why I haven't attempted it so far. To begin with, there's nothing actually vulgar about "Knees together, lips apart," at least not as far as I know. It's a version of basic advice for a woman who wants to look like a lady, the kind of thing a girl might hear from her mother or grandmother, combined with advice for how to look attractive. (I don't know if it's also a quote from something besides Frasier - if so, I'm not aware of it.) "Knees together"=look proper. "Lips apart"=but do so while also looking attractive.

    Edit: And by "lips," I mean the lips on your face. I guess it's possible the reference is to labia, but that seems really unlikely to me.

    Frasier is concerned about his professional image, and so the title of the scene and the shot of Frasier sitting there with his knees primly together is playing off that advice. He isn't concerned about looking like a lady, of course, but he's concerned about being taken seriously as a psychiatrist. So he's metaphorically not allowing anybody to look up his skirt by keeping his knees together.

    Miles' reference to his and Maris' beds has nothing to do with "Knees together, lips apart," by the way. He's just saying that that particular scene in the movie was so steamy and stimulating that even the icy-cold Maris got hot and bothered enough to want her bed next to her husband's...at least for a short while.
     
    Last edited:

    alabala

    Member
    Romanian
    "no respectable woman would sit with her knees apart in company, but the labia are open, indicating sexual eagerness." - this is what I found a bit vulgar for Frasier.
    I understood that the title has nothing to do with Niles and Maris, as for the syntax of the phrase, as I've already said, I think it comes from "knees together, thighs apart".

    But no one answered this question: Could it mean that his knees are together because he doesn't want people to look up his skirt = he doesn't want a stain on his reputation, while his lips are apart = he is eager to do the commercial because it pays well?
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I added this to my earlier post, but I think I cross-posted with you, Alabala. It's hard to be sure about these things, but I just read the entire scene and I think the reference to "lips" refers to the ones on your face. It seems really unlikely to me that it refers to labia unless there's some innuendo in that scene that I'm missing.

    But yes, I agree that he's sitting there with his knees together because he doesn't want people metaphorically looking up his skirt. The "lips open" part is more difficult. It could mean eagerness or maybe it's just a reference to the fact that Frasier does, after all, talk for a living.
     

    alabala

    Member
    Romanian
    Well, you have all been very helpful, so thank you.
    And until someone contradicts me, I will think lips apart means eager to do the commercial :)
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    The title of a scene must stand in some relation to its content, but I can't imagine that the rules governing such relations could be very strict.
    This title seems to me to be perfectly apt.
    The 'knees together' referencing the mention of Sharon Stone whilst simultaneously evoking Frasier's anxiety about his impending loss of dignity.
    The 'lips apart' also referencing Sharon Stone whilst conjuring the rictus grin of insincerity that he'll no doubt adopt for the camera.
    Taken together, as Kate has mentioned, the kind of advice as a mother would give her daughter ahead of prom night, but in this case, advice coming from his (younger?) brother - and thus Frasier is further emasculated.
    He is no longer to be considered a real (manly) psychiatrist but as a preposterous sham - a blushing débutante, and a fairly tawdry one at that, whoring herself in commercials.
     
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