What almost made me stop watching The Nanny

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I remember meeting someone years ago who was OBSESSED with Fran Drescher, and, by extension, The Nanny (seriously, he was.) I couldn’t understand it… until about 2 months ago.

I’m scrolling through my YouTube feed to find something to watch for the evening when I see a live video playing old episodes of the show. I’m not sure what compelled me to check it out, but I was locked in.

I was barely alive during The Nanny‘s six season run on CBS from 1993-1999. Oddly enough, though, I remember hearing that insanely catchy theme song during reruns:

She had style, she had flair, she was there! That’s how she became The Nanny!

I mean, really. How could you not instantly want to sing along as soon as you hear the musical flourish in the intro?

So anyway, after watching the 4-5 episodes YouTube had available, I was invested.

If you’ve never seen The Nanny, here’s a quick synopsis: glamorous and fun-loving Jewish woman from Flushing, Queens, Fran Fine becomes, you guessed it, the nanny for Maxwell Sheffield, a highfalutin British Broadway producer and widower of three children.

There are a lot of great things to love about this show. Because Fran (both the character and the actress) is Jewish, several of the shows jokes revolve around her heritage. By the end of the series, even the kids are practically fluent in Yiddish!

Fran’s family members frequent the show as well, including her overbearing but well-meaning mother Sylvia and eccentric grandmother Yetta who becomes increasingly more senile as the series progresses (and is easily one of my favorite characters.)

Another one of the show’s highs are secondary characters Niles (the Sheffields’ butler) and C.C. Babcock (Maxwell’s business partner.) They round out the cast beautifully with their wise cracks to one another, not to mention Niles & Fran’s adorable friendship and C.C.’s ill-fated attempts to woo Maxwell.

I quickly grew to love the sharp-witted and fast-paced humor of the show. But there was one glaring issue that almost made me stop watching altogether.

Over the course of the show, Fran and Maxwell are deep in a “Will they or won’t they” relationship, taking nearly the entire series for them to commit to one another. This has to be one of the most grating and drawn-out romantic plots I’ve ever seen, and it drove me insane.

(Spoiler alert: they end up together. By the end of the show, the two are happily wedded and have children of their own, leaving the audience with the ending they all wanted (I assume.) But how they get there is absolutely mind-numbing.)

I’ll spare you the specifics, but it’s quite obvious that the two are interested in each other early on. I should note here that I didn’t watch the first two seasons, mainly because they weren’t available on the platform I originally binged it on, plus I heard they were a drag anyway, so take my authority on this with a grain of salt. There are several moments where they are wrapped in a loving embrace, looking at each other in ways that only a significant other would, and even stealing kisses on occasion (sometimes resulting in a full-on make out.)

Finally, in the season three finale, Maxwell tells Fran he loves her out of fear they will die in a plane crash. He later takes it back, which turns into an overly long gag that permeates throughout nearly the entire fourth and fifth seasons.

The in-universe reason for all of this is that Maxwell is afraid of commitment, using his children and late wife as excuses for why he’s hesitant on moving forward romantically with Fran, which makes perfect sense.

The problem is, it takes him forever to explain that to Fran, who is obsessed with finding a man and getting hitched (so much so that she begins talking to a therapist to address the issue midway through season four.) Niles often serves as the voice of reason, being able to perfectly and unabashedly articulate Maxwell’s sentiments in a way that he can’t. However, I believe that it’s Niles’s honesty (and incessant nosyness) that help get Max and Fran together.

None of this takes away from an otherwise brilliant show, though. All sitcoms suffer from some kind of issue over the course of their run, most notably taking one character flaw or plot point and milking it for every joke that they can. But that’s sort of the point of these types of shows; they are situational comedies, after all. The whole premise is to take otherwise ordinary and relatable social situations and finding humor in it.

Now, there are definitely other parts of The Nanny that make me scratch my head (but don’t infuriate me nearly as much as Fran and Maxwell’s relationship), like Niles and C.C.’s ship that comes out of left field late in the series. Sure, there is a thin line between love and hate, and having two characters snipe at each other for years only to reveal that it was out of love all along isn’t that far-fetched of an idea, but it felt cheap. I didn’t buy their romance at all. Maybe there is something to dragging out a TV relationship (I’m looking at you, Sheffields), but make it believable.

In any case, I highly recommend a watch if you’ve yet to experience this classic show. Currently, you can catch reruns of The Nanny on Cozi and stream the entire series on Max.

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