I don't know about anyone else, but I've been having a rough couple of years.
Between the never-ending pandemic, the natural disasters, the political turmoil and the much more mundane panic of turning 30, I've been a bit...out of sorts, to say the least. I felt like I was careening out of control, only really, really slowly, which doesn't make sense and yet explains it as perfectly as I can. Everything became harder to do and harder to focus on, and I found myself a little lost. And the thing that I would normally turn to when I needed some comfort and an escape—TV—was no longer comforting or an escape. Instead, it was work.
As the world started to open up again (for better or worse), I started seeing a doctor for depression and anxiety. I got medication, started therapy, took time off work, and started doing yoga every single day. The difference was night and day, and I would recommend all of those steps to anyone.
But still, my relationship to TV seemed irrevocably broken. I wasn't enjoying the shows I used to love, and every show I did watch felt like a slog. Anything that did appeal to me only made me feel worse. At one point, I was binging Below Deck like it was life support, and I wouldn't exactly say that Below Deck has the most positive of energies (especially as the charter season winds down). I was reveling in rich jerks and drama when what I really needed was a heaping dose of joy. Or perhaps some...joie de vivre. Enter: The Nanny.
It hadn't even crossed my mind as a potential binge. It was a show I watched on occasion as a kid, but never enough to remember anything other than "Mistah Sheffield!" Then, a friend going through a similar sort of breakdown had invited me over to knit (another meditative activity I highly recommend) and watch The Nanny with her, and the effect was sort of immediate.
If it's been a while since you caught up with Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), you might not remember the specifics of her impact. She's loud, whiny, nasal, colorful and stubborn. She's a force of nature who fits herself into any environment by not fitting in at all. She's 30-something and wrestling with the fact that everyone think she should be married with kids by now. She eats constantly, and she changes the lives of everyone around her.
Sometimes, it's easy to forget to to take up space and make yourself heard, but Fran doesn't know how to be small or quiet. Loud is her only volume, whether she's right or not. She's wrong a whole lot of the time, but she doesn't let that hold her back. Fran is a woman who will not be ignored, and who doesn't care if you don't love her, and who is unapologetically herself at all times.
At more than 23 episodes a season, watching The Nanny is subjecting yourself to an excessive amount of Fran and her exceedingly positive energy. I found myself talking to myself like she talks, or standing like she stands. I was digging miniskirts out of my closet, delighted to find that they fit, even if I had no place to wear them. I was looking ahead at the life I could live if I were just an ounce more like Fran—a little bit louder, a little bit more confident—rather than worrying about all the things I had already done wrong.
I'll admit that I didn't watch every episode. Once you hit season four, it's hard to keep watching Fran and Maxwell (Charles Shaughnessy) dance around each other while the writers fine ever-increasingly wacky and annoying reasons they can't be together. I skipped around impatiently, desperate to watch Fran find her happy ending. By the time she did, I was ready to move on, in more ways than one. I even went back to Below Deck with a renewed zest for yacht life.
The Nanny was like the final piece in my puzzle, at least for now. Fran was the friend I needed, the role model I didn't know I was looking for, and the daily mood booster no one thought to prescribe me. I'm not here to say you can solve all your problems with a TV show—if there's anything I've learned in my career, it's that—but I firmly believe the right show at the right time can still change your life...or at least your wardrobe.
The Nanny is streaming on HBO Max.