“I’m Sorry” creator and star Andrea Savage owes a debt of gratitude to “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The Emmy-winning CBS sitcom was known for mining its writers’ real-life family foibles for stories, and that’s also what Savage achieves with her TruTV comedy.

Savage told Variety’s My Favorite Episode podcast that she hasn’t yet met “Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal, but she remembers reading how those writers’ room discussions led to several classic episodes. “I think that may be why I gravitated subconsciously to this show,” she said.

“I could tell the difference between a wacky sitcom premise and something that has its base in a reality… I think that show and other things like it trickled into my brain, and I’m doing my pushed-out, female lead character version of that kind of show.”

On this edition of the podcast, we talk to Andrea Savage about her favorite episode of TV ever, a 2001 installment of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” We also discuss how real “I’m Sorry” can get, how relatable it is to fans, and even what we can all learn about marriage from her show. Listen below:

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Savage’s pick for favorite episode is “Marie’s Sculpture,” the fifth episode from season 6 of Phil Rosenthal and Ray Romano’s hit comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Written by Jennifer Crittenden, in the episode Marie, played by Doris Roberts, takes up sculpting. But when she brings home a sculpture that looks like a vulva, Ray and Debra have to pretend to like it without hurting Marie’s feelings.

The show aired on Oct. 22, 2001 — just over a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which is a bit surprising in hindsight, given its rowdy subject matter. Savage was also intrigued by the fact that the episode made it to primetime.

“This was CBS, primetime, and they had a vagina sculpture,” she said. “I do mostly cable stuff, so it seems tame-ish, but at the time I think this was a groundbreaking thing. I felt like [‘Raymond’] was an edgier show than its packaging. So it sort of slipped into people’s homes. It had some edgier stuff.”

Meanwhile, asked to pick her favorite “I’m Sorry” episode, Savage chose “Acts of Service” from Season 1. In the episode, Andrea (Savage) and Mike (Tom Everett Scott) look to spice up their marriage via a self-help “love language” that includes “acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, gift giving and quality time.”

“Andrea and mike are the cornerstone of the show and it allows all the bigger comedy to stem from it,” Savage said. “It does make writing storylines for them very hard in terms of their relationship is very good.” But Savage said she hears from many fans who tell her how excited to finally see a couple on TV “that’s like my marriage.”

“I’m Sorry” is currently streaming on Netflix, with selected episodes also available on TruTV’s website.

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Erica Parise

Variety‘s “My Favorite Episode with Michael Schneider” is where stars and producers gather to discuss their favorite TV episodes ever — from classic sitcoms to modern-day dramas — as well as pick a favorite episode from their own series. On “My Favorite Episode,” some of the biggest names in TV share their creative inspirations — and how those episodes influenced them.

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