6 Lessons About Home and Family I Learned From “The Nanny”

6 Lessons About Home and Family I Learned From “The Nanny”

Like many people, I have been enjoying a rewatch of the ‘90s sitcom “The Nanny” after it finally started streaming on HBO Max. It has everything I remember loving from my childhood and its many reruns: Fabulous and glitzy outfits! Jokes about Andrew Lloyd Weber! Extremely dated guest stars! At the center, of course, is the flashy girl from Flushing, the nanny named Fran, and her crew of Sheffields and Fines, as well as C.C. Babcock, and the one and only Niles.

Although a great deal of “The Nanny” deals with the “will they, or won’t they?” relationship between Fran and Mr. Sheffield, it’s also about the creation of a family and a home. Sure, there are hijinks and celebrity guests and glittering gowns — and yes, a fair share of dated “comedy” that should have never flown — but “The Nanny” also makes you realize that home is where you work, live, play, and wear sequins — and it’s where your people are. Here are several life and living lessons I’ve learned during my rewatch.

Breakfast tastes better when you eat it as a family.
The Sheffield crew always enjoys breakfast around their shining mahogany table as a family, complete with Fran in one of her many fuzzy chenille robes. They talk about things they’re working on, problems at school, Maggie’s dates, and vacation plans — the kind of stuff mealtime convos are made of. If you can, sit down with the people in your home once a day and enjoy a meal together with no phones and distractions. Chenille robes optional.

You should treat the people who work in your home with the same respect you show Elizabeth Taylor.
Although Fran and Niles are technically his employees, Maxwell treats them like equals. He and Niles grew up together and have a close friendship, and, well, we know how it ends up with Fran. (The show has been off the air since 1999, so don’t get mad at me for spoilers!) The two employees are never treated as lesser-than, even if they don’t come from the trust funds-and-millionaires world like Maxwell does.

Fill your home with beautiful things you love, but don’t be too precious about it.
Maxwell has filled his New York mansion with gorgeous antiques, works of art, and elaborate furniture, but Fran and the kids don’t treat the house like a museum. They plop onto chairs, raid the fridge, and generally live in their home. Follow the Sheffield’s’ lead and buy what you love but remember that your home is a place you should feel comfortable in too.

Have a regular cleaning routine and stick to it.
When he’s not listening at doors or exchanging pithy barbs with C.C., Niles keeps himself busy by keeping the Sheffield home spotless. He’s always dusting the knickknacks, vacuuming, and cleaning under rugs. Take a cue from his book and establish a cleaning routine you can complete throughout the week, whether that’s dusting with your feather duster on Tuesdays or washing floors on Thursdays.

Make a statement with color.
After Fran and Maxwell finally get together, she redoes the kitchen in a soft orange palette — quite a departure from the existing ’90s sage green. It’s a testament to how Fran has changed the Sheffield family for the better and taught them to embrace the vibrancy of life in full color. If you’re considering a paint job in your own home and yearning for bright pink or cheerful yellow walls, go for it! Fran would definitely approve — she is the one in red when everyone else is wearing tan, after all.

It’s always a good time for a snack.
Take it from Sylvia Fine — there’s nothing a delicious pastry or bowl of ice cream can’t fix, even when you’re in the depths of despair. Keep your kitchen (or, in Sylvia’s case, your daughter’s employer’s kitchen) stocked with your favorites for a little pick-me-up when you need it.

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