The Nanny

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Nanny logo 7516.jpg

She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens
Till her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes
What was she to do, where was she to go
She was out on her fanny
So over the bridge from Flushing, to the Sheffields' door
She was there to sell makeup, but the father saw more
She had style, she had flair, she was there

That's how she became The Nanny!
—Theme Song

Fran Fine's life was chugging right along, until she got fired from the bridal shop where she worked and dumped by her fiancé in the very same day (it didn't help that her fiancé owned said bridal shop). With nowhere to go, she begins to work selling cosmetics door-to-door...and, well, see above.

Some could say it was basically The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with matzo balls, but it was much more than that. Ok... it wasn't much more than that, but it was a truly fun series with a lot to offer. It was fairly popular during its time, to both children and adults, most likely due to its huge amount of Parental Bonuses.

Perhaps one of the greatest success this show had was its big and colorful cast, ranging from the sarcastic British Butler to the Jewish Mother. The focus change from one actor to another of this big amount of different characters, helping to keep the stories fresh and avoid repetition. The series ran for a total of respectable six seasons, and it's broadcast by some networks.

It's worth noticing that the show was immensely popular in many countries outside USA (Argentina, Australia, Chile and Russia, to name a few), even getting the "the most viewed program" spot in some. This success leaded to many local adaptations, to cash on the show popularity and give some local flavor. In the US it had an Spiritual Successor called Living With Fran, which was not nearly as well received as this series, and only lasted two seasons.


Tropes used in The Nanny include:
  • Aborted Arc: The end of Season 2 is a cliffhanger where the Sheffield mansion is robbed, but when Season 3 began, this was never resolved or mentioned again.
  • Affectionate Parody: They did several of these for shows like Dynasty and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
  • Always Someone Better: Maxwell deals with this twice. During the show, it's always coming in second place to Andrew Lloyd Webber. However, it was mentioned more than once that he felt like this toward Jeremy Irons back in school. He lost the part of Romeo in their school production to him (Max ended up as Friar Lawrence), and Niles mentioned that he spent his entire class reunion sulking in the corner "because everybody was kissing Jeremy Irons' as...pirin, Q-tips and Chapstick, I'm off to the drugstore."
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Sylvia has a bad habit of eating all the food in sight, constantly nagging Fran about not being married, and telling wildly inappropriate stories to anyone around to hear.
  • Anchored Ship: The reason Fran and Max don't become a couple is because of his dead wife. However, the end result is a Type 1 when he proposes to her.
  • Animated Credits Opening
  • Answer Cut: This show loves this trope. Usually not a cut, more like a character walking in. Commonly used to not-so-subtly insult a character. For example...

Fran: Do we have any old nipples around here? (Cue C.C. walking in, Niles stuffs his fist in his mouth to stop himself)

    • Eventually self-parodied when Fran and Val are in the kitchen, upset that they can't get boyfriends... and instead of Max, Brighton walks in.

Fran: Have you ever seen Harold and Maude?

  • Antagonist in Mourning: Happens twice to C.C.. Once when Fran leaves to become a soap opera star, C.C. is ecstatic until she finds out that Maxwell has hired Heather Biblow to take over as nanny. When Fran returns, C.C. hugs her, exclaiming "Don't you ever leave me again!" to a perplexed Fran. The second time was after Niles suffers a heart attack during a verbal spar with him.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Niles's list in "The Facts of Lice", which leads Fran to think he's a serial killer.

Fran: "Secure alibi, Cut phone line, Put on gloves, Tape mouth?... Clean up blood, Dispose of evidence... Pick up bananas...?"

  • Betty and Veronica: Averted because C.C. only thinks Maxwell is Archie, she's Betty, and Fran is Veronica but...she's not even in the equation.
    • C.C. herself becomes the Archie in another bogus Betty and Veronica situation, where Maxwell is the Betty and Niles is the Veronica. It's still a false choice, but at least she's genuinely interested in the both of them.
  • Big Eater: Sylvia Fine.

Sylvia: Do I smell banana fritters with fresh fruit compote?
Niles: No.
Sylvia: Could I?

    • And if Sylvia isn't around, Fran is the next biggest eater.
      • They kind of imply in-universe that this is a shared trait amongst all Jews, as seen when Niles tells Max that Sylvia invited them over for the Jewish holiday:

Max: Now, is this the holiday Miss Fine said you can't eat all day, then stuff yourself? Or the one where you light candles, then stuff yourself? Or the one where you build a straw hut, then stuff yourself?
Niles: I believe it's the one where you hide crackers from small children, then stuff yourself.
Max: Ah, Passover.

C.C.(screaming): My mental health is just a sick game to you, isn't it?
Niles(perfectly calm): Rack 'em up, let's play again.

  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Fran leans toward this trope.
  • Butt Monkey: Alternates between Niles and C.C. Though to be fair, it doesn't happen to Niles until later seasons while C.C. gets it throughout (with good reason).
    • Brighton got shades of this trope in the later seasons.
  • Canon Immigrant: Bobbi Flekman from This Is Spinal Tap.
  • Catch Phrase: Not quite to the Memetic Mutation level, but C.C. saying: "Hello, hello!" and Maxwell's enraged bellow of "MISS FINE!" are both frequently repeated on the show.
    • Hello? What about "Good morning, everyone!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: Fran Fine met Fran Drescher, and noticed how similar that show Miss Drescher starred in was to her own life.
  • Chatty Hairdresser: Fran was one of these briefly during a Poorly-Disguised Pilot.
  • Christmas Cake: Fran has a complex about it; to the point that we never really get to know her real age even after the whole series ended.
    • Lampshaded when even the FBI was only able to get as close as thirty-one.
    • Basically just lampshaded throughout the whole series.
    • HILARIOUSLY lampshaded when on the night before her wedding, Fran is stranded on the outskirts of the city. When she calls the police for help, he dismisses her. . .until she tells him how old she is (which the audience never hears), and he then offers to send a helicopter to get her safely home.
    • We do find it out: She has her 30th birthday in season two. Maggie even references this.

Fran: I'm 25 years old.
Maggie: No, you're not. Your 30th birthday was three years ago. You're 33!

      • The question is whether that was her real thirtieth birthday.
    • In one episode, she meets a good looking professor who's crazy about her. However, he's also into astrology, and his psychic tells him that he should be getting married and settling down with someone older than Fran claims to be in Great Neck (which amounts to Fran's entire dream life.) She still wouldn't tell him how old she is. Even when it benefits her to be older, she refuses.
      • It should be noted that Fran's hangups about her age began with her mother. In one episode during Sylvia's birthday, Fran mentions that the "Happy Fiftieth Birthday" banner they were using still had Vote Dukakis on the back.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Fran nearly enters into one when Brighton's french tutor (needing a green card) pops the question.
  • City Mouse: C.C., particularly in "Schlepped Away". Fran to a lesser degree in "Honeymoon's Overboard".
  • Comically Missing the Point
  • Conversational Troping: "Canasta Masta" opens with a brief bit of this for Just Eat Gilligan, with a bonus Lampshade Hanging.
    • This happens throughout the series. In "The Family Plumbing", Fran's cousin Tiffany was surprised that Brighton didn't notice there was The Other Darrin on Bewitched.
  • Crossover: The Nanny crossed over with Everybody Loves Raymond in the episode "The Reunion Show", when Fran meets up with Ray Barone at their High School reunion. Actor Allusion, as Fran Drescher and Ray Romano really did graduate from HS together.
  • Cute but Cacophonic: This is one of those things in the series that is lampshaded REPEATEDLY.
  • Daytime Drama Queen: In one episode, Niles and C.C. become addicted to a Spanish soap opera. Even if you don't speak Spanish you can probably hazard a guess that it's Soap Within a Show variety.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Fran and Niles, mostly, but Mr. Sheffield has more than a touch of this quality.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: C.C., in later seasons.
  • Depending on the Writer: Maxwell waffled between knowing Fran has feelings for him and being oblivious, Fran shifts back and forth between being aggressively protective about her age and joking about it, and knowing her voice is incredibly grating and being oblivious to it.
    • Many of Niles's insults to C.C. were contradictory to each other. Half the time, he implies that she has absolutely no sex life (when he makes a cake with her image on it, when he offers someone a slice he says, "as in life, no one's touched her."). The other half, he implies that she's a prostitute (any time she mentions selling tickets or raising money from investors, Niles would make remarks about "her usual corner" or "remembering her change belt."
    • Maxwell's intelligence tended to wander back and forth between Genre Savvy and a complete buffoon. On more than one occasion, he knew that Niles would frequently eavesdrop on conversations in his office, and would refer to him if he needed a witness. However, in one episode when Fran was pregnant and having a sonogram, he was bragging about how much the baby looked like him, only to be told that the machine wasn't on and he was seeing his reflection.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: After Niles and C.C. start to become romantically involved, the normally bitter and repressed C.C. comes into work the next day as cheerful as Snow White, including singing to a bird.
  • Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Comes up when Brighton tries to explain to his dad how to talk to Fran:

Brighton: Dad, she's been working here for three years! When are you gonna learn? Okay... (Imitates Fran's voice for the questions) "Does this make me look fat?" "No." "Do you like my hair this way?" "Yes." "Is my tush wider than usual?" There is no answer to that one.

Maxwell: "Niles, how would you suggest I go about satisfying Miss Fine?"
Niles: "... Well, sir, the second way..."

  • Double Standard: Comes up in S1 Ep 14 "The Family Plumbing". Maxwell refuses to let Maggie go to a make-out party but is proud of Brighton when Fran catches him making out with her cousin's granddaughter.
  • Dumb Blonde: Val. Lampshaded by Fran at one point: "Val wasn't short for 'valedictorian.'"
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In a first season episode, Fran celebrates her 30th birthday. Shortly afterwards, her refusal to admit to being older than 29 became one of the shows biggest running gags (Maxwell says at one point even the FBI couldn't figure out her real age).
    • In the pilot, Niles and Fran weren't quite so friendly towards each other as they were later on. He seemed to enjoy sitting back and watching Fran dig herself deeper.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Maxwell's middle name is Beverly.
  • Evil Laugh: C.C. has one that's actually fairly impressive - usually happens when she's sneering over someone or during those brief moments where she gets one over on Niles.
  • Expository Theme Tune: She had style! She had flair! She was there! That's how she became The Nanny!
    • Which they used all the way through the final season, when Fran had married her boss, adopted his children, and was pregnant with her own. Apparently, it never occurred to anyone that the song should either be updated, or an instrumental.
  • Fan Service with a Smile: Fran certainly doesn't mind providing it, either.
  • Fawlty Towers Plot: A number of times, like in "The Butler, The Husband, The Wife and Her Mother" and "Pishke Business".
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted, as C.C. is technically the first girl, but has no chance. Unless you count her inevitable hook-up with Niles.
  • Foreign Remake: Has spawned many.
  • Fur and Loathing: Parodied.
  • Gender Equal Ensemble: The Sheffield household has three males (Maxwell and Brighton Sheffield, Niles the butler) and three females (Fran Fine, Maggie and Gracie Sheffield), although other main characters or just important ones (C.C., Sylvia, Yetta, Val) throw the dynamic off a little.
  • Generation Xerox: In S1 Ep14 "The Family Plumbing", Fran has her cousin come over to fix the family's plumbing. He brings his granddaughter, who is basically a younger version of Fran.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Any usages of the phrase "Raise" but one of the most memorable one is:

Niles: "Bucking for a raise"
Fran: You give me a raise I give you one!!!

  • Girls with Moustaches: Fran infiltrates a men-only club dressed as a man, complete with facial hair.
    • This disguise is actually meant to even fool the audience at first since we are lead to believe the cocktail waitress with the big hair is Fran at first.
  • Gratuitous French: "Green Card", where Brighton gets a French tutor Fran is attracted to. Unfortunately for him, she thinks "je t'adore" means "shut the door".
    • Funnily enough, the actor playing the French tutor was born and raised in Milan. This might be accidentally lampshaded later, when Fran tells Maggie she should be failing Italian so she could get a tutor as well.
  • Gunman with Three Names: Fran thinks Niles is a serial killer when she misinterprets a list he had, and Val tries to convince her Niles can't be a serial killer using this.

Val: Let's see, most serial killers have three names: (Counts on her fingers each time) "John Wayne Gacy," "Richard Alan Speck," "Son of Sam"!
(Beat)
Fran: Oh, Val, what're we talking about here? We're not dealing with some sicko stranger! It's Niles, I know him very well! I stand behind Mr. Niles... (Beat) ...the Killer.
Val: (GASP)

  • Happier Home Movie: The end of "I Don't Remember Mama".
  • Her Codename Was Mary Sue: Niles writes a play and the main character is a butler; that's so much like himself.
    • Also, Maxwell writes a novel in which every character is a slightly-changed version of a character from the show (the hero is a single father with a sexy governess for his three children).
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Fran and Val, ever since childhood.
    • And Maxwell and Niles. Occasionally they have moments of being Vitriolic Best Buds, but they honestly can't imagine life without each other, and are definitely each others' confidants.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Fran's father Morty Fine, till the last season.

"That's preposterous! I've never even met your father. No one has. I'm not sure he bloody well exists."

  • Hide Your Pregnancy: C.C., whose actor was pregnant at the time, lampshades this and provides the picture for the page. She enters Maxwell's office wearing all black and refers to Hide Your Pregnancy techniques used on Elaine from Seinfeld, including the holding massive objects. At the time, she is holding a huge purse, and after putting it down, picks up a potted plant she says needs to be watered before exiting the scene.
    • She later reenters the room holding a giant sign that says "BABY".
  • High School Hustler: Brighton shows shades of this once he actually gets to high school
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Usually played after the credits.
  • Homage: Later seasons began making deliberate homages to I Love Lucy.
  • How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?: Fran finds a smart aleck answer for it.
  • Hurricane of Puns: From "Green Card":

Fran: Bonsoir, Philippe~
Philippe: Did you study your French last night?
Fran: Well, how's this?
(The two share a French kiss, and then...)
Fran: Did I pass the oral exam?
(Maxwell walks in.)
Maxwell: Ah, Philippe, I see you're exposing my nanny to your native tongue...
Fran: Oh, Mr. Sheffield, I'm sorry. I guess I have no French Resistance.

  • Hypocritical Humor: Another staple of the show.
    • Maxwell gently reassuring Fran when their plane hits some turbulence:

Maxwell: Just think of it as driving down a country lane, with a few potholes-- (THUMP!) What the bloody hell was that?!!

    • In "Ode to Barbara Joan", C.C. invites her father to meet Maxwell.

C.C.: If I'm going to see my father, everything has to be perfect. He is demanding, critical, judgmental... you have no idea what it's like to be around someone like that.
(Niles and Fran look at each other, speaking at the same time)
Niles: Totally in the dark.
Fran: Don't have a clue.

Lila: (On the phone talking to Fran) Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to hear your voice.
Fran: Oh, you know, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that... I'd have a nickel.

  • Informed Deformity: While Sylvia was a Big Eater and definitely a bigger woman, in show, they portrayed her as a whale. During one of her many elaborate freakouts, she threatened to throw herself in the Hudson River, to which Fran responded "Ma, flooding New Jersey is not gonna solve anything!"
    • A quite jarring case: throughout the series Niles insinuates that C.C. is unattractive, despite the fact that she actually looks quite beautiful (it was her personality that was unattractive!). Justified later on in the series when it turns out that Niles has just been saying this to cover up the fact that he's actually madly in love with C.C. (For the most part, in the early episodes, it would appear that Niles simply hates her so much he's coming up with every insult he can to throw at her. He also calls her a cow, a hooker, and a witch.)
  • Insistent Terminology: C.C. refers to Fran as "Nanny Fine", even to her face, 90% of the time.
    • C.C. keeps calling her that even after Fran and Sheffield get married.
  • It Runs in The Family: C.C.'s family includes D.D. (her sister), B.B. (her mom), and G.G. (her cousin).
  • It's Fake Fur, It's Fine: Fran explicitly states that the furs she wears are fake (as does the actress in real life).
  • It Will Never Catch On: The flashback scenes in "The Kibbutz" show Fran and Val scoffing at the idea of "frozen yogurt" as they watch a young Maxwell mentioning in an interview how glad he was passing on a musical about singing cats at C.C.'s advice. Fran also thinks Mrs. Spielberg's son, Steven, is a dork.
  • I Want Grandkids: Fran hears this constantly from her mother. Yetta, on the other hand, is senile and therefore thinks that Maggie, Brighton (or as she calls him, "Schmooey"), and Grace are all Fran's kids. By the end of the show, she marries Max, so they are.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: The flashback scenes in "The Kibbutz" show Fran wearing cornrows thanks to seeing 10, Maxwell wearing a leisure suit and Porn Stache and C.C. with long, black Yoko Oh No-esque hair.
  • The Jeeves: Niles.
  • Jewish Mother: Sylvia Fine to Fran. Yetta to Sylvia. Fran to Jonah and Eve, or Jewish stepmother to Maggie, Brighton, and Grace.
  • Last-Name Basis: Fran calls Maxwell "Mr. Sheffield" and Maxwell calls her "Miss Fine" until the later seasons when they finally hook up.
    • Thought at least once after they married, an aggravated Maxwell called Fran "Miss Fine". For instance, upon catching Maggie in bed with her boyfriend in Fran's old room, making Fran say to her "See what you did? Now I'm back to Ms. Fine."
    • When Fran and Maxwell are on their honeymoon (well, stranded on a desert island for their honeymoon), as they consummate their marriage, Fran is heard shouting, "Oh, Max! Oh, Max! Oh, Mister Sheffield!"
  • Little Black Dress: Fran has an exceptionally fetching one in "An Offer She Can't Refuse". Maxwell is understandably flustered when she wears it on a date with another guy.
  • Locked Into Strangeness: Maxwell's Skunk Stripe appeared around the same time Fran was hired. Lampshaded in "The Nanny Napper".
  • Lysistrata Gambit: Fran attempts this, but caves before her husband so much as notices she's trying to hold out on sex.
  • Magical Nanny: Fran, of course.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The infamous "Night of Elizabeth Taylor", which united The Nanny with the other shows on that night, Can't Hurry Love, Murphy Brown, and High Society.
  • Matzo Fever
  • Miss Conception: S2 Ep19 "A Fine Friendship" has a Type 1 with Grace. She thinks she's pregnant when she hears Fran talking about a soap opera character who slept with a guy and is late which means she's pregnant. Grace "slept with" (took a nap) with her male friend, Willy, and was "late" (for a showing of The Lion King, because they fell asleep). Fran hears them talking about it.

Grace: Are we doing the right thing, bringing a child into this world?
Fran: Boy, can those kids play house or what?

  • Missing Mom: Sara Sheffield, how she died has never been revealed.
  • Mistaken for Gay: The focus of S2 Ep 19 "A Fine Friendship" with Fran and a male nanny named Kurt.
    • Happens more often to Maxwell and Niles. They are British, after all.
    • And also because of her virtually nonexistent romantic life, this has happened to C.C.
      • Fran too, for the same reason, by a woman who C.C. and Fran thought was interested in Maxwell. Turns out she really had a thing for Fran.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Fran herself. Love those miniskirts.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Due to her senility, Grandma Yetta calls Brighton "Schmooey".
  • Nice to the Waiter: C.C. is in no way nice to Niles the butler, and Sweet Lord does she pay for it. Some of the things that are seen or mentioned during the show: swapping out her lip balm for glue stick, putting dishwater in her coffee, switching some labels on breath spray and pepper spray, leaving her trapped in a malfunctioning wheelchair spinning out of control, squirting lemon juice into her eye, handing her a scalding hot teapot, and in general Niles plays hackysack with her mental and physical health the entire series.
    • This also applies to C.C. where Fran is concerned. C.C. is very condescending to Fran, undermines her and tries to manipulate her in one way or another, but Fran usually has the last laugh.
  • No Indoor Voice: Fran and Sylvia trade off on this quality, and then sometimes use it simultaneously.

Sylvia: (to Yetta, who is senile) Fran is not married, SHE'S ALL ALONE!
Fran: Louder, Ma. I don't think they heard you IN URUGUAY!

    • Also Lampshaded from time to time:

Fran: (creeps down the stairs, whispering) Who's ringing the doorbell at this hour? They're gonna wake everybody up. (bellows) NILES!
(Niles appears beside her)
Fran: Oh, you heard me?
Niles: Van Gogh heard you. He's dead AND missing an ear.

  • Noodle Incident: Maxwell taking back that he loves Fran becomes this for Niles.
    • In one episode he figures it out (cue epic Oh Crap from Maxwell), but then decides that can't be it, because no one could be stupid enough to do something like that.
  • No Periods, Period: Actually had quite a few with Fran and other female character mentioning periods drive the men from the room, intentional or not.
    • S2 Ep5 "Curse of the Grandmas". Maxwell is trying to figure out why Fran is angry with him and says he counted backwards from 28 days from the last time she was mad at him for no reason, saying she still has another week.
    • S2 Ep13 "The Strike". Maxwell gave Brighton permission to go shopping in Jersey after Fran had already said no. I can't remember the exact words, but it's something to the effect of:

Fran: As you know, I'm usually a very fair nanny. However, it's the 28th day of the month.

    • S6 Ep3 "Once a Secretary, Always a Secretary". Gracie tells Maxwell that all of her friends are on their "cycles" yet. Of course, he misunderstands.

Maxwell: You see? We didn't have to bother Fran with that. I'll buy you a bicycle.
Grace: Dad, I'm talking about my period.

    • At the end of the episode, Fran tells Maxwell he'll tell her "the longer her 'friend' takes to visit the happier we'll all be", just as Grace walks by yelling about being out of Nutter Butters, and Fran says "Well, welcome to hell, honey."
  • The Not-Secret: In "Whine Cellar", C.C. "reveals" to Fran that she has a crush on Maxwell, adding "My therapist says I'm obsessed with him!", to which Fran responds "How much did you pay to figure that out?"
  • Not in Front of the Parrot: While Cher is recovering from plastic surgery in the Sheffield home, it somehow slips out, and Maxwell suspects Fran. She denies it, but the parrot gives her away with, "*Squawk!* Val! It's Cher! Could ya plotz?" Although, it's revealed that it was Maxwell's fault.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Happens quite frequently with Fran and Maxwell.
    • S2 Ep 19 "A Fine Friendship" has Max fighting to help Fran get her shirt on after she gets it stuck putting it on. They're struggling trying to get it on, yelling about how they'll get it on, how he can't do it standing up, and how hot she is, right as Niles walks by. The look on his face is priceless.

Niles: If you let me tell Miss Babcock about this, I'll work free for a year.

  • Oblivious to Love: Played for laughs, though it's more like Oblivious To Lust, as Maxwell constantly misinterprets or overlooks C.C.'s attempts at winning his heart.
  • Odd Friendship Fran and Niles friendship is a departure from most sitcoms where their characters would normally be enemies. In fact, Niles ends up joining Val as Fran's best friend.
  • Official Couple: Fran and Maxwell.
  • Old Shame: In-universe. When Maggie researches the Sheffield family history for a school project and casually mentions that the family has reputation for mental illness, Maxwell declares that this merely is a vicious rumor...despite the fact that he has a great-aunt who lives in a gazebo with a hoot owl, an uncle who beheaded his aunt, and another uncle who believes himself to be a leprechaun.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: C.C. Babcock's full name is only revealed in the final episode. It's Chastity Claire Babcock, if anyone cares.
  • Only One Name: No one knows Niles' last name.

Fran: Say, what is your last name?
Niles: It's just Niles. Like Cher.

    • Though in the finale, as Niles marries his nemesis C.C. in Fran's delivery room, he's referred to as Niles Butler, and does not deny it.
    • In another episode, C.C. introduces Niles as Niles de Butler.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping
  • Platonic Life Partners: Fran and Niles.
  • Playing Gertrude: Ann Morgan Guilbert, who plays Grandma Yetta, is only 5 years older than Renee Taylor, who plays Sylvia Fine. C.C. Babcock is meant to be several years older than Fran, but Lauren Lane is actually 4 years younger than Fran Drescher.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Fran is very much this trope.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: C.C.

Fran: Can that woman suck up, Niles.
Niles: If she came with attachments, we could throw out the Hoover.

  • Reality Is Unrealistic Mr. Sheffield played by London born Charles Shaughnessy has at least once been told his English Accent wasn't as good as Fake Brit 's Daniel Davis'.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Lauren Lane's real-life pregnancy coincided with C.C.'s committal to a mental hospital.
    • Furthermore, almost all of Fran Fine's life (up until working in the bridal shop) was taken almost verbatim from Fran Drescher's own life. Both were from Queens, both had parents named Morty and Sylvia, both graduated from Hillcrest High (with Ray Barone/Ray Romano).
    • The reason that Chester became an Evil-Detecting Dog around C.C. was that Chester was, in reality, Fran Drescher's dog, and was so fiercely loyal to his owner, that any time C.C. picked him up or took him away from Fran, he would just naturally snap and snarl. Since C.C. was a textbook Rich Bitch, it just turned Chester into, as Niles put it, "Fluffy, and a good judge of character."
  • Rich Bitch: C.C.
    • Max's sister Jocelyn didn't start out this way when she appeared in an early episode, but when she reappeared in the last couple seasons, she seemed to have become this.
      • Max's mother was also definitely this trope.
      • Fran's Aunt Frieda showed shades of this after becoming rich, though she redeemed herself.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor In Sense: The Sheffields, or any of the Blue Bloods for that matter, often lack common sense and need to be schooled by Fran. The kids have an excuse, they are growing up and need parental guidance, the adults . . . not so much.
  • Risky Business Dance: Done by Niles in "Canasta Masta". C.C. walks in on him.

Niles: You realize of course now I have to kill you.

  • Running Gag: Such gags include:
    • Fran never being honest about her age.
    • Maxwell's resentment of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
    • C.C. never remembering the names of the Sheffield children (or even the number).
    • Sylvia's voracious appetite.
    • Maxwell's obliviousness about how much C.C. lusts after him (up until he and Fran get married).
    • Fran and Sylvia's obsessive undying love for Barbara Streisand.
    • C.C.'s poor romantic life.
    • Gracie's paranoia (she got better in the later seasons though).
    • Yetta's senility.
    • Maxwell being mistaken for Pierce Brosnan.
  • Saw a Woman In Half: This was going to be Fran and Gracie's talent for the mother/daughter pageant. Their practice run didn't go very well... Fran was nearly cut while Gracie read Easy-Bake instructions.
  • Servile Snarker: Niles, especially with C.C.

C.C.: I dreamt I died and went to heaven!
Niles: I had the same dream. Except that you were going the other way.

C.C.: I loathe you.
Niles: I despise you.
C.C.: Servant.
Niles: Trollop.
C.C.: Bell-boy.
Niles: Brunette.
(the next part censored for the delicate sensibilities of the readers)

  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: C.C. is by far the most abused character on the show (the show is also unique in the sense that the female slapstick violence is mostly the fault of a male character, namely Niles).
    • Fran has her share of slapstick, too. Understandable, since Fran Drescher has cited Lucille Ball as a major influence upon her.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Although Fran wasn't exactly a slob and always looked fabulous, she's not above picking her teeth in polite company and offering an off-hand remark about food she doesn't remember eating being stuck in there.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: C.C.
  • Smoking Is Cool: S1 Ep2 "Smoke Gets In Your Lies" brought this up when Brighton takes up smoking after Fran tells him how the coolest kid in her middle school did it.
  • SoCalization: The show is set in New York, but in one episode, Fran is holding a cup from In'n'Out Burger, a restaurant chain that exists only in the southwest U.S.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance
  • Stalker with a Crush: C.C. shows shades of this towards Maxwell (as early as Season One, her therapist has diagnosed C.C. with being clinically obsessed with him). It gets much more severe after Fran and Maxwell announce their engagement. Upon hearing the news, C.C. immediately starts twitching, attacks the messengers who brought her the news (she's holding one of their hats, torn to shreds, in the next scene), and actually ends up spending a few episodes in a mental asylum (in Real Life actress Lauren Lane was taking time off because she was about to give birth). She gets better by the end of the series though.
    • Fran gets her own stalker in the form of Jeffrey Needleman, an old classmate from middle and high school. He threatens to fling himself out a window if Fran doesn't start a relationship with him. At one point before this, he gives her an old makeup kit, explaining that it's the same one their fifth grade teacher confiscated from Fran. Cue Fran's response: "And you saved it...all these years. How sweet...and yet disturbing!"
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Maxwell finds himself momentarily attracted to "Wilbur Ed", only to find (to his relief) that it was actually Fran in disguise.
    • On one occasion, Max says he "did once have a dream about that chap from Wings" before quickly deciding to go watch some sports.
  • Stylish Protection Gear: Fran buys a sexy ski outfit, but admits it's just to attract guys.

"Who says anything abut skiing? If I even make it out of the lodge, I'm sending it back."

'I wasn't staying up to see how late you'd come back after your night out

  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: S2 Ep2 "The Playwright" had this happen to Brighton. He asks his geeky study partner, Brooke, to the school dance, only to deny it and turn her down when she talks to him about it in front of his friends and gets lectured by Fran for it. Later on, after agreeing again to take her to the dance, she shows up and has cleaned up nicely. Fran lampshades it;

Fran: See? You did the right thing, and God smiled on you. God, Maybelline, and half a box of Kleenex.

  • Talking to the Dead: Maxwell in "The Wedding" finds himself speaking to his deceased wife Sara, who gives her blessing for marrying Fran.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: In "The Party's Over", Fran tries to find the ideal guy at the party she and Val throw. She finds a nice one in the end, but it goes wrong for a different reason.
  • That Didn't Happen: During a turbulent flight, Maxwell confesses he loves Fran but took it back when they landed safely.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In the first season finale, when Fran is on a plane, she basically recites the lyrics to the show's theme. She also mentions the "She's got style/ she's got flair" part a couple of times throughout the show. It's even Lampshaded in the episode "Where's the Pearls?":

Fran: But...I've got style, I've got flair! How could I become the nanny?!

    • Many moons later, Fran tries to reassure herself she won't be an impoverished spinster in 20 years like her nanny friend:

Fran: We're not alike because I have a skill I can fall back on.
Mona: That's what I thought. See, I was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens, 'till my boyfriend kicked me out in one of those crushing scenes--"
Fran: Stop it, Mona!

    • Also, in the episode "Fashion Show", Maxwell expresses his surprise at Fran's costumes for a production of Our Town stealing the show.

Fran: Well, I had style, I had flair, I was there, that's how I became... (suddenly dissatisfied) the nanny.

Maggie: Fran, you can't control what your mother eats. She doesn't live here.
Gracie: When did she move out?

  • Third Option Love Interest: Happens a couple of times during the series, most prominently (and lampshaded) with Bobbie Flekman (played by Fran Drescher) who the delusional C.C. describes as an amalgamation between herself and Fran. C.C. is the only one who thinks that she and Fran are Betty and Veronica, though, so it's pretty much a subversion. Sufficed to say, Bobbie is only there to cause tension and never reappears in the series.
  • Tinkle in the Eye: When Fran has to take care of a baby boy, Maxwell warns her about this.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: A subversion occurs when Niles offers C.C. a frozen popsicle and it sticks to her tongue...so he tells her to go outside and stick it out in the sun to melt instead of just running warm water over it. Alas, C.C. didn't know any better.
    • Played straight with the Secret Service agent on the ski lift.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: How Fran manages to have so many clothes is ascribed to her having a fashion designer cousin.
  • The Unseen: Fran's father.
  • Volleying Insults: C.C. and Niles, the latter usually winning.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When someone asks about Fran, she quotes the first two lines of the theme song, verbatim.
  • "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: C.C. in "Ode to Barbara Joan".
  • What the Hell, Casting Agency?: In-universe. One way to show Max's... abilities as a producer was to mention that he would make some bizarre casting choices. Some of which were Debbie Boone as Yentl and putting Lyle Waggoner in Fiddler On The Roof.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Especially in the latter seasons, both between Maxwell and Fran and C.C. and Niles.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Gracie.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: This was actually one of the show's signature elements. It really wouldn't have felt the same without this trope.
  • You Look Familiar: Steve Lawrence, who played Fran's (mostly) unseen father Morty, had appeared as himself with wife Eydie Gorme earlier in the show's run.
    • A couple of the extras who play nameless one-shot minor characters like a doctor reappear later as a security guard or priest.
    • Not just extras, several celebrities had multiple appearances, once in character and once as themselves. Like Steve Lawrence, it happened with Coolio, Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O'Donnell as well.
    • Jackie Tohn, who played Fran's Generation Xerox cousin Tiffany in a first-season episode, played a completely unrelated high school girl named Francine in a fourth-season episode, with both characters being written as "Just like Fran only Brighton's age."