Yeeeeeah, that’s right! I’m going in hard on THE NANNY. BUCKLE UP.
First up, a disclaimer: no, it’s not The Wire. This low-rent sitcom from the ’90s is clearly not revolutionary television. I’m not suggesting you binge watch it over a weekend and let the glories of the show, the majesty of its artistry, sink into your skin, blah blah. There’s no bragging about seeing every episode of The Nanny and there won’t be after you read this list. But maybe, just maybe, you won’t dismiss it so quickly. That’s all I care about.
5. Great theme song
The hallmark of any classic sitcom! This one neatly explains the premise of the whole show and it’s super catchy. It’s a great place to start because now I don’t have to actually tell you what the show’s about:
4. Comedy All-Stars
As a kid, I recognized Charles Shaughnessy as a dreamboat from Days of Our Lives. He’s not who we’re talking about when we talk about a sitcom’s supporting cast, comedy dream machine. Specifically, we’re talking about Daniel Davis (Niles):
And, most crucially, Renee Taylor (as Fran’s mother Sylvia):
and Ann Morgan Guilbert (Yetta):
3. The premise
There’s a reason why the show is so compulsively watch-able. Sing it with me now… tale as old as tiiiiime. No? No singing? Fine. We’ve seen this premise, about a down-to-earth working class woman hired to take care of a rich man’s family, before. It goes as far back as Jane Eyre and maybe even before that. The Sound of Music, of course. Countless Hallmark made-for-TV Christmas movies. We know how this story eventually ends. The Nanny dragged the romance between Fran and her Mr. Sheffield on longer than most and turned it into the show’s longest running joke. But it’s still pretty sweet.
2. The clothes
For some reason, a working class nanny from Queens is able to afford a seriously killer wardrobe. It’s one of the great sitcom mysteries of our time, right up there with Monica and Rachel’s giant, rent-controlled NYC apartment. But there is no denying that Fran Fine’s 90s wardrobe is miles and miles ahead of whatever denim monstrosities Rachel, Monica and Phoebe were wearing. Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Todd Oldham. There’s a whole Instagram account dedicated to Fran’s wardrobe:
1. Fran Drescher is a fucking bad-ass. A warrior. A survivor. And worthy of a little respect.
Let’s talk about Fran the person first. She got her first break in Saturday Night Fever. In 1984, she played publicist Bobbi in This is Spinal Tap (and was awesome). Wikipedia tells me that she played a “schizophrenic who flips from a prude to a sexually minded woman and ends up in a hotel with ADA Dan Fielding” in an episode of Night Court (which also sounds awesome).
She survived a violent rape during a home invasion in 1985. After she survived uterine cancer, she became a public health advocate and worked directly with the State Department for Women’s Health. When her ex-husband/best friend/business partner came out, she became a fierce LGBT activist. She stumped for Hillary and Obama and has been super feisty lately about capitalism. And she is legitimately great on The Nanny. She’s the reason it was a bonafide hit sitcom. She’s got killer comic timing and the camera loves her. She’s sassy. She’s warm. You believe she can charm a stuffy, rich British Broadway producer; after all, she’s the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan.