Tag Archives: Jewish mother

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*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television