Tag Archives: Brighton Sheffield

The Nanny Character Review: Sylvia Fine

*I apologize for not posting last week. Life, as it sometimes does, got in the way.

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Our parents hopefully want the best for us. The problem is when their ideas for how our life should turn out conflict with reality.

On The Nanny, Sylvia Fine (Renee Taylor), has one wish for her younger daughter, Fran (Fran Drescher): to get married and give her grandchildren. But neither appears in the be in the cards for Fran’s immediate future, to both of their dismay. She appears to be the stereotype of the overbearing Jewish mother. She clearly loves her children, but does not recognize or understand personal and emotional boundaries. Other than eating and worrying about Fran’s marital status, she spends her time playing Canasta. For a short time, Maxwell’s son, Brighton (Benjamin Salisbury) was her teammate.

When Fran is employed by Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) to be his children’s nanny, her relationship with her charges goes well beyond that of a paid employee. The running joke about Sylvia is that she is rarely without a plate of food in front of her. When Fran and Max married towards the end of the series, she dared guests to object and was thrilled when she finally became a grandmother.

To sum it up: Though Sylvia is a comic character and can be seen as a predictable cliché, her heart is in the right place. The maternal feelings are obvious, even when her actions are a bit over the top.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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The Nanny Character Review: Brighton Sheffield

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. There is no one like your pesky little brother. They have the ability to get under your skin as few can. They can also speak the truth about the family dynamic when others cannot.

On The Nanny, Brighton Sheffield (Benjamin Salisbury) is the middle child and only son of Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy). Bookended by an older sister, Maggie (Nicholle Tom) and a younger sister, Grace (Madeline Zima), he feels lost in the shuffle. Without his late mother to support him and his father working constantly, Brighton feels a little lost in the shuffle. When Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) is hired by Maxwell to be his children’s nanny, he is not sure about the new addition to the household. But he quickly warms up to her, looks up to her, and appreciates her down to earth perspective. He also loves to tease Maggie, as kid brother brother does. But what he gives she gives back ten fold.

Like many young boys, Brighton looks up to his father and is eager to follow is his father’s footsteps. He also has one eye on the girls. While his father approves, Fran does not approve. He also bonds with Fran’s mother and grandmother via a mutual love of Canasta. In later years, he becomes hysterical when anyone mentions his trust fund. At the end of the series Brighton chose to put off college for a year and become a mime in France.

To sum it up: What makes Brighton stand out is that he is the average kid brother. He looks up to his father, teases his older sister relentlessly, and has girls on the brain. He also has a big heart and knows that Fran is the female presence he needs as he grows up.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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The Nanny Character Review: Maggie Sheffield

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Let’s be honest, being a teenager is scary. Our hormones are raging, we are confused about everything, and we are trying to build the bridge from childhood to adulthood. On The Nanny, Maggie Sheffield, the oldest of the three Sheffield children, (Nicholle Tom) is initially introduced as a shy young woman in her early teens. Her first burst of change comes via her first kiss from a waiter who has been hired for an event at the Sheffield home. While her father, Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) is horrified, her new nanny, Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) is thrilled.

As Maggie grows up, Fran becomes more like an older sister/confidant than a paid member of the household staff. While her father does everything he can to keep her from growing up, Fran encourages Maggie to enjoy her teenage years. She also gets quite a bit of brotherly ribbing from her younger brother Brighton (Benjamin Salisbury). When we last see Maggie, she is a newly married to a Jewish underwear novel.

To sum it up: What makes Maggie relatable as a character is that she is a normal teenage girl. She is watched like a hawk by her father, teased by her kid brother and encouraged to enjoy life by the maternal figure in her life.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television