Tag Archives: Fran Drescher

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*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television

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*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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

1 Comment

Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television

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.

2 Comments

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

Indebted Pilot Review

Family sitcoms have been part and parcel of the television landscape since the beginning. The question is, do these programs stand out from the pack or are they just a little too predictable?

Indebted premiered on Thursday. Linda (Fran Drescher) and Stew (Steven Weber) are a middle aged couple who, well, have not been the most responsible when it comes to their finances. When their debt becomes too much to bear, they move in with their son, Dave (Adam Pally) and daughter in law Rebecca (Abby Elliott). When generations collide, as they usually do, misunderstandings occur.

The thing about pilots is that they never reveal the nuances and the colors in both the characters and the narrative. That takes at least a season or two to develop. I was drawn to the show because it followed the standard premise of a family sitcom, but it felt like it belonged in 2020.

The problem with this show is that it trades on stereotypes and predictable character molds. I appreciate that the characters are Jewish, as there continues to be a dearth of positive Jewish representation on television. But I felt like the writers and the creative team leaned a little too far on the stereotypes instead of using them as a launching point for greater character and narrative exploration.

Do I recommend it? No.

Indebted airs on NBC on Thursday at 9:30 PM.

Leave a comment

Filed under Television, TV Review

Welcome to the Tribe, Tiffany Haddish

When one thinks of a Jewish woman, the image that is conjured is usually that of Barbra Streisand or Fran Drescher.

One does not think of Tiffany Haddish.

A few weeks ago, Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah premiered on Netflix.

The daughter of an African-American mother and an Ethiopian Jewish father, Haddish celebrated her fortieth birthday and embraced her father’s Judaism earlier this month.

I love that she is Jewish and she embraced her Judaism. I love that she reminds audiences that not all Jews look and/or sound like Barbra Streisand or Fran Drescher. We come from all parts of the world and speak as many languages are there are to speak. Some of us have lighter skin, some of us have darker skin.

Either way, we are all Jews and Tiffany Haddish is one of us.

Welcome to the tribe, Tiffany Haddish.

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc

Early Flashback Friday-Happily Divorced (2011-2013)

There is nothing like translating real world experiences into art.

In the short-lived television series, Happily Divorced (2011-2013), Fran Lovett (Fran Drescher) has just learned that her husband of nearly two decades, Peter Lovett (John Michael Higgins) is gay. Instead of going their separate ways, Fran and Peter decide to make their new relationship work.

Based on Drescher’s real life (her IRL ex husband Peter Marc Jacobson also came out of the closet during their marriage, they divorced after 21 years of marriage), the show tries to re-interpret the family sitcom for the modern era that we live in.

The problem with the show is that while it was moderately entertaining and funny, it did not have the lasting power of Drescher’s other show, The Nanny.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Beautician And The Beast (1997)

There are only so many story ideas. It can appear to be easy to combine two different stories and hope that the mingling of  these two distinct stories will work well together. But appearances are sometimes deceiving.

Taking a break from her television role, Fran Drescher starred with Timothy Dalton in 1997’s Beautician And The Beast.

Combining Beauty And The Beast and The King and I, Joy Miller (Drescher) is a New York City Cosmetologist who is thought to be a teacher. She is hired to teach the children of Boris Pochenko (Dalton), the dictator of an Eastern European country.  Her way of educating her students soon reach the ears of not just their father, but the whole country.

The reality of this movie is that Fran Drescher did not step too far from the shadow of Fran Fine when she agreed to play Joy Miller.  Timothy Dalton is an incredible actor who happens to be also incredibly easy on the eyes, but the man who played James Bond, Heathcliff and Edward Rochester is not the man who is on screen for this movie. In short, he is wasted as an actor.

Were the critics wrong? No.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Movie Review, Movies, New York City, The Critics Were Wrong

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday