Rebooting classic TV sitcoms has been all the rage the last few years, with Roseanne having major success on ABC before later being canceled. Will & Grace has had similar success on NBC, although the ratings didn’t spike quite as high as Roseanne. CBS is coming back with Murphy Brown, and now there are rumors that another one of its shows could be on its way: The Nanny.
The show, which featured actress Fran Drescher portraying a character based on her own life, ran on the network from 1993-1999. She became famous for her nasal laugh and thick Queens accent. But the plot of the show followed Dresher’s character (also named Fran) as she became the nanny for a rich, Broadway producer whom she would eventually marry.
The show as created by Drescher and her now ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson. The pair have apparently gotten back together to collaborate on a potential revival, which hasn’t had the green light quite yet at CBS. Speaking with ET, Drescher spilled the beans on where things could be headed for her character.
“We’re talking about it. Peter and I are talking about it,” Drescher said. “We’re working on a very big project. It’s going to be very exciting for the fans, but I’m not at liberty to announce it yet. But it’s gonna be big.”
Reviving a sitcom such as The Nanny can be difficult. Storylines have often ended and need creative changes. With Will & Grace, writers had to somewhat ignore the original series finale that had Will and Grace speaking to each other for the first time in years, as their children go off to college. For Roseanne, they had to explain away much of the ninth season as being part of a book that she was writing.
Much of what The Nanny was about was Fran becoming close with the high-strung family that was in her care, but by the end she had married the father. According to Jacobson, that plot point is inevitably what killed the show in its original run.
“When a show is built around a love that can’t happen, sexual tension, you have to keep it that way,” Jacobson said. “As much as you want the people to get together, as soon as they do, people start tuning out.”
The entire fifth season focused on the two characters finally getting together, and then a wedding, a honeymoon, and eventually Fran’s pregnancy. The pair moved from New York to California. Meanwhile Maggie moved to Europe with her wealthy new husband. That kind of breaks things up, doesn’t it?
In a reboot, would Drescher and Jacobson have the courage to split the characters up, much like Roseanne did with Darlene and David? Could they somehow revive that sexual tension, or create it among new characters? And with her New York background being such an important part of the character, will we learn that the last 20 years have found Fran back in Queens?
“The thing is our show would be the same characters 20 years later. We can’t just pick up where we left off,” she said. “But in a way, that could be really good because the show can have a whole fresh bend to it.”
That could mean a focus on the younger cast, with maybe a heavier focus on the life of Grace Sheffield (played by Madeline Zima). The actress has remained active, with several projects currently in post-production. That runs counter to her former co-star Benjamin Salisbury, who hasn’t appeared in a project since 2006. Nicholle Tom, who played the eldest child, Maggie, has also mostly disappeared from the spotlight but is still an active actress.
But the heartbeat of the show, according to Drescher, remains Fran. The actress remains tight-lipped about the “big project” and the cast. But she did give a few clues about what her character might be up to 20 years later.
“She would’ve maybe gotten involved in more things [that] Fran Drescher is involved with,” she said. “All kinds of things from environmental issues, to health, to civil liberties, that’s what I think Fran would be doing now — opening her big Queens mouth for the greater good.”
If we’re judging it based on how the other ’90s reboots have done, a revival of The Nanny certainly sounds like it could be a major success.