Tag Archives: Charles Shaughnessy

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*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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

*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.

When we fall in love, we hope and expect that the person we love will love us back. But, that is not always the case. On The Nanny, C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane) has been romantically chasing her widower business partner, Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) since the death of his wife. To her chagrin and the delight of Niles (Daniel Davis), Maxwell falls for and marries Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), his children’s nanny.

A socialite and the daughter of divorced parents, C.C. took every opportunity she had as a child to be spoiled. When she enters the Sheffield house, she is greeted by her less than favorite sparring partner, Niles. He takes pleasure in mocking her about her age, her lack of a romantic partner, and most importantly, her numerous failures to turn her business partner into her life partner.

Things change between C.C. and Niles when their game of “top that” insults turn into lust. That lust turns into love, a marriage proposal, and a baby. When we last see C.C., she and Niles follow Max and Fran to California and his new television producing job.

To sum it up: When the one we love rejects us, we have two choices. Choice #1 is to do fight to get them back. Choice #2 is to accept what has happened and move on. Though C.C. eventually accepts that she will never be Maxwell’s other half, it takes her a while to get there.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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The Nanny Character Review: Niles

*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.

In the old days, the household staff in the homes of the wealthy were background players. They were expected to do their jobs quietly and efficiently, while remaining away from the spotlight. On The Nanny, Niles (Danny Davis) is the opposite of the traditional servant. Snarky, outspoken, a snoop, and a smartass, he is not above making a comment that others in his position would keep to themselves.

Having worked for Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) as his butler for decades, Niles feels protective of the family he serves. His best friend is Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), who works for Mr. Sheffield as his children’s nanny. He also takes pleasure is mocking C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), Mr. Sheffield’s business partner whose many attempts to romance Maxwell have backfired.

Towards the end of the series, Niles comes to realize that the insults he has been flinging at C.C. are really flirting. When the insults turn into a kiss, it is a realization that is both hilarious and completely out of left field. When it comes to his boss and Fran, he has been rooting for them for years while undermining C.C. in claiming Maxwell for herself. Niles is also known for having a snack handy when Fran’s mother, Sylvia, (Renee Taylor) comes to visit.

To sum it up: We’ve all seen the compliant and complementary butler whose vocabulary ends with “yes sir” or “no ma’am”. While these characters are fine to watch, they’re boring. Niles shakes up the servant character, showing that there can be much more than the stock perception that many of us have of this role.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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The Nanny Character Review: Maxwell 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. Losing a loved one is hard enough. But losing your spouse or partner when your children are young is another level of grief. While dealing with the fact that the person you loved most in the world is gone, you also have the responsibility of being the sole parent.

On The Nanny, Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) is a Broadway producer and a widower with three kids. Though it is never clearly stated why his wife passed, it is obvious that her loss is still palpable. Due to a very busy work schedule, he is unable to spend as much time with his kids as he would like. Which is why he hires Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) as the nanny.

In the beginning, their relationship is strictly that of employer/employee. But over the course of five years, the mutual attraction as well as a Ricky/Lucy relationship begins to emerge. In contrast to Maxwell’s gentrified, sometimes emotionally distant upper class world, Fran comes from a lower class family who does not have access to the things he has, but has the love of a close family. When they are on a return flight back from Paris turbulence hits the plane, Maxwell blurts out that he is in love with her. After they get home, he takes it back giving his butler Niles (Daniel Davis) comic meat to hold over his boss’s head.

When he finally gathers the courage to be open about his feelings and propose, his business partner C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane) has a breakdown after years of romantically chasing him. The last time we see Maxwell, he and Fran are parents to infant twins and they are moving to Los Angeles where he is going to produce a television series.

To sum it up: It takes courage to find new love after the death of one’s spouse/partner. Live in the past is easy, opening your heart to someone new is harder. In eventually revealing his feelings for Fran and marrying her, he proves that it is possible to love again while still remembering the one you lost.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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The Nanny Character Review: Fran Fine

I apologize for the delay in the publication of the new character review posts. Life, as it does, got in the way last week.

*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. When it comes to ethnic or racial stereotypes, there is line that can be easily crossed into a gross misrepresentation of the culture that person represents. However, it can also be subverted to reveal the human being who exceeds the image they represent.

At first glance, Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) is your typical Jewish woman from New York City. She has a thick Queens accent, is obsessed with finding a husband and adores Barbra Streisand. When her fiancé dumps her, she has no choice but to go back to selling cosmetics door to door. One of the doors she knocks on is Maxwell Sheffield’s (Charles Shaughnessy). Maxwell is a Broadway producer and a widower with three growing children. Though she is a square peg in a round hole, Maxwell hires Fran to be his children’s nanny. Over the years, Fran becomes much more than the hired help. She is a mother figure to her charges and encourages them to see beyond the limited reaches of their Park Avenue mansion.

Fran brings much more than herself into the WASP-y Sheffield household. She brings her entire family. Her mother Sylvia (Renee Taylor) is preoccupied with the fact that her younger daughter is both single and childless. She is also known to nosh wherever and whenever she can. Fran’s best friend Val Toriello (Rachel Chagall) is not the brightest bulb in the box. Sylvia’s mother and Fran’s grandmother Yetta Rosenberg (Ann Morgan Guilbert) is sometimes senile and sometimes not senile.

The relationship between Fran and Maxwell is not exactly the most professional relationship between employer an employee. There is a palpable chemistry between them, resulting in a will they or won’t they question that hangs over the characters for five years. When they finally get together, it is to the delight of Maxwell’s children (whose relationship with Fran is of a pseudo-parental/child nature) and the butler Niles (Daniel Davis). It is only C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), who looks upon the relationship with disdain. Her numerous attempts to create romantic sparks with Maxwell, her business partner have never succeeded.

To sum it up: Though Fran checks all of the boxes when it comes the stereotype of a Jewish woman, she is more than a list of expected traits and interests. She is warm, adventurous and when she loves, she loves completely.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Throwback Thursday-TV Edition-The Nanny (1993)

Life can be very interesting sometimes. We think we are down for the count, but then an opportunity appears and we take it, not knowing what will happen.

In The Nanny (1993), Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) has been dumped by her boyfriend and has lost her job. In an effort to earn a living, she sells makeup door to door. She knocks on the door of Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy), a British widowed Broadway producer with three growing children. Believed to be on of the applicants who is looking to work for Mr. Sheffield as his children’s nanny, she takes on the position of raising her charges in a world that is not her own.

Fran is crass, outspoken, likes her hair big, her skirts small and raised in a Jewish family from Flushing. Maxwell is from the upper classes of Britain who is proper, controlled and respectable. While the basis of the story can be found in The Sound Of Music, there are also elements of I Love Lucy. But Fran also has a big heart and loves her charges as if they were her own.

Do I recommend it?  It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s nice way to unwind at the end of the day.

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