I've started watching the '90s sitcom "The Nanny" on DVD lately, much to the pain and chagrin of the lady who shares the apartment with me and has to hear Fran Drescher's high pitched whine. The show, for those of you uncultured in the ways of Drescherdom, features a woman named Fran Fine who lost her fiancee and her job at a bridal shop in Queens and happened into a job as a nanny for three privileged children of a wealthy Manhattan widower. Fran, in case you couldn't tell from all the Yiddishisms, is Jewish, and she and her mother are able to embody every stereotype that the ADL spent decades trying to fight. However, we're led to believe she's a kind person--as traditional sitcom protagonists generally are--and most of the "humor" on this show is derived from the "fish out of water" situations involving a tacky, ethnic woman from Queens rolling in stuffy Manhattan high society. (The widower, who Fran appears attracted to in the first season--and will likely consummate this attraction by the end of the series--is a British producer of plays, very repressed, and just the sort of opposite who would be attracted to Ms. Fine. Oh the hijinks that can ensue!)
Watching this show can be a pleasure in that it reminds you that only two decades ago--the show premiered in 1993, when a charlatan named Bill Clinton was just starting his first term--sitcoms were generally a lot more formulaic than they are now. Shows used multiple camera format (compared to single camera, as The Office and Arrested Development use), laugh tracks were used, protagonists were generally good people, and plots were generally self contained in the weekly episode. Today, a show like the Nanny would be a bit of an anachronism.
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