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Fran's Best Moments In The Nanny

This content was paid for by Sony and created by Looper.

In the 1990s, a decade with no shortage of classic sitcoms, "The Nanny" was one of the most popular and well-received. It endures today as an all-time favorite because of the creative force behind the scenes and in front of the camera: Fran Drescher. The veteran character actress co-created "The Nanny" and starred for six seasons as the wacky, unforgettable, and vivacious Fran Fine, or Miss Fine as she was known to the members of the Sheffield family and their household staff, whom she joined as a live-in childcare provider despite having no experience in the field whatsoever.

Fran Fine shot from the hip in all things, feeling her way through life's silly adventures as they happened to and around her, giving Drescher a chance to show off her impressive and multi-faceted comedy chops. Here are some of Drescher's funniest, unexpected, and absolute best moments as the nanny named Fran on "The Nanny."

When Fran ate wasabi

Throughout her time on "The Nanny," Fran Drescher earned comparisons to classic TV stars of yore, performers like Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball, for her ability to juggle and succeed at multiple types of crowd-pleasing comedy. Like her predecessors, Drescher could squeeze all the humor out of a line with a clever or quirky read and then seconds later execute an elaborately choreographed bit of wacky, broad physical comedy. In the 18th episode of season 3 called "Val's Boyfriend," sophisticated C.C. sets up "Nanny Fine" for an embarrassing public faux pas by taking her out for sushi. Fran pretends to be casual and familiar with the cuisine that's actually quite exotic to her, a façade that's shattered when she's caught eating a rubber display shrimp. 

After enquiring about the "green stuff," which C.C. explains is wasabi, and that it's a condiment like mustard, Fran piles it high on a single piece of sushi, and the results are inevitable. The extremely spicy topping kicks in, as Fran's eyes go wide and places her entire head aflame. She straight-up passes out and an arm sticks up into the shot, flailing for a glass of water. And then, Drescher tops it all and sends the audience into hysterics, quipping, "That mustard really clears up the nasal passages," completely free of her signature nose-forward accent.

When Fran scandalized a stranger in the park

Early in the first season of "The Nanny," Fran Fine is still finding her way professionally, thrown into the job of providing childcare and whatever other tasks Mr. Sheffield and the household staff needs her to take on at a moment's notice. In the season 1 episode "Sunday in the Park with Fran," Miss Fine must take Gracie to a playground, along with Frank Jr., the nasty son of a nastier theater critic Mr. Sheffield is trying to impress. She doesn't like him, and neither does Gracie — but hey, it's a living. 

While Gracie and Frank Jr. play (and squabble, and fight, and scream), Fran, friendly as always, strikes up a conversation with a mother sitting on a park bench. In a bit of amusing and comical misunderstanding caused by an abundance of familiarity and a lack of clear explanation, this woman is led to believe that Fran's personal situation is much more complicated and tawdry than it actually is. It's understandable how the stranger could misinterpret Fran's casual, off-handed remarks, like how she doesn't know if Frank takes after his father because she only met him for a few minutes, or that she's "stuck with" the boy, and how she calls both Frank and Grace's father "mister" because she doesn't "really know either of them that well." In the end, it's all cleared up, but Fran is no less harried by her nannying duties.

When Fran got an ill-timed rash

By "Rash to Judgment," a Season Five episode of "The Nanny," the inevitable romantic coupling of Fran Fine and Mr. Sheffield is finally beginning to coalesce, and Fran forces the things into that happily ever after by taking a leap of faith and asking out her boss. By the time the big night arrives, Fran is under the weather in a comical and unavoidable way, suffering an allergic reaction from her mother's squash pasta in the form of a nasty, full-body rash. But nothing is going to stop her from going out on that date with Mr. Sheffield, so she does whatever she can to hide, treat, and ignore the very itchy rash. She finds a slinky, full length ball gown to hide those egregious blotches, but Fran Drescher plays up the physicality of the absurd situation. 

The nanny makes Niles scratch her back when Mr. Sheffield isn't watching, she rubs up against a railing, sticks a flower down her back to reach an itchy spot, and more, all leading up to a slow dance sequence that Mr. Sheffield finds romantic, but Fran finds soothing because she can scratch herself on his stubble. She's so caught up in the moment she doesn't even notice she's trying to relieve her itch by getting too close to special guest star Michael Bolton.

When Fran flunked her screen test

After five seasons' worth of episodes, it should come as little surprise that Fran wanted to be a star, or at least a television personality. So when Yetta gets engaged to a man related to morning show anchor Bryant Gumbel (guest-starring as himself), Miss Fine finally gets what could be her big break on "Fair Weather Fran," a 1997 episode of "The Nanny." Only one thing stands in the way of Fran's dream of becoming a TV weather forecaster, and it's a screen test in a big Manhattan TV studio. 

Getting instructions from a helpful and affable Gumbel, Fran thinks she nails the challenge, which involves delivering an off-the-cuff editorial about the then-emerging concept of gene therapy. True to her roots and self, however, Fran gives a jovial, flirty, and slightly risqué verbal think-piece on the power of a good pair of rear-end-hugging pants to change one's station in life — in other words, "jean therapy." Fran decisively does not pass the screen test.

When Fran flew on a private jet

The 1994 "The Nanny" episode "Material Fran" fills in viewers on both Fran's backstory as well as where she'd like to go in life. She reconnects with Kathy, an old high school friend from the same humble, working-class Flushing, Queens, roots who married a much older and extremely wealthy man who lavishes her in luxury. Fran wants a taste of that good life, so Kathy sets her up with Theo, an old and wealthy friend of her old and wealthy husband. Together, the four fly in a private jet to Paris, which really gives Fran a chance to be delightfully dazzled. 

Not only is she impressed with the on-board toilet — which Fran thinks is the first time she felt like an airplane commode wasn't going to suck her in and spit her out — she's over the moon when the lobster arrives. She refuses all attention from Theo to tuck in to her lobster, which she can't seem to crack into on account of the air turbulence that seems to hit every time she wants to cut in, take a bite, or take a sip of champagne. She might not get to have any at the moment, but things are looking up, as she's on her way to Paris, just like where they went on that one episode of "The Facts of Life," and she snuck Kathy's uneaten lobster into her purse for later.

When Fran had a driving mishap

The 1996 episode "The Car Show" includes one dynamic sequence that touches on most every memorable element of the character of Fran Fine. She's got stories about the old neighborhood, she flirts shamelessly with Mr. Sheffield, laments her lack of pay, she freaks out over the idea of a celebrity encounter, and she makes a big mistake while lost in her own thoughts. The Sheffields are celebrating Maggie's 17th birthday, and Fran really feels like she gets to be part of the family and act motherly toward her eldest charge by gifting her a sports car she wins (which she couldn't afford on her six-bucks-an-hour salary). It's either that, Fran says, or a nose job, like girls got when she was growing up. 

Mr. Sheffield teaches her to drive the vehicle's stick shift, requiring him to squeeze her leg whenever she needs to move into another gear (which is no accident on Fran's part). After nearly getting in an accident after spotting a warehouse sale, a speaker-cell-phone call from C.C. is what finally makes Fran lose control and her cool. The very idea that Barbra Streisand wants Mr. Sheffield to host a benefit at her house, and that she'll get to meet her idol, distracts Fran to the point where she strikes and kills a bunny.

When Fran dated a superstitious hockey player

That over-the-top, Queens-accented Fran Fine voice is most notable for two speeds: laughing and complaining. In the 1996 "The Nanny" episode "The Hockey Show," Fran is so distressed over some hilariously unfortunate ramifications of her love life that she goes into her heavily comic full-on whine mode. Earlier in the episode, Fran briefly dates a professional hockey player, a star player for the New York Rangers. The date goes badly, she considers breaking things off, but starstruck, hockey-loving Mr. Sheffield asks her to keep the spark alive. 

She does, but the heavily superstitious athlete notices that Fran wears red shoes — to which he attributes the catastrophic loss of an important game. He publicly labels Miss Fine a jinx, a comment picked up by the newspapers, who run Fran's face with the story, making her a pariah in the New York sports world. She whines and sulks about her new status, which manifests in payback big and small, but at least, she notes, she looks 10 years younger than she is in that widely distributed photo.

When Fran pretended to be a nun

Well into five seasons of "The Nanny," Fran was for all intents and purposes a member of the Sheffield family, having taken care of the kids for half a decade and on the way toward marrying their father. But when middle Sheffield kid Brighton suffers an accident and winds up in the hospital in the 1998 episode "The Prenup," Fran Fine finds that she's not Brighton's mother figure in the eyes of the law — or a by-the-book charge nurse.

This otherwise frightening and emotionally charged and complicated situation somehow results in some charming physical comedy done out of love. Denied entry to Brighton's room because she's not his legal guardian, and after a shockingly small tip and a meltdown stolen from "Terms of Endearment" don't gain her access, Fran does what she has to do to get to Brighton: She persuades a nun to give her the whole habit. That opens most any door for her, the world's most conspicuous and unconvincing nun, what with her heavy makeup and use of the Jewish greeting "Shalom."

When Fran borrowed a wig

Fran Fine is pretty well-known for her big, curly, bouffant-style hair. So it's a very striking image when Miss Fine doesn't sport her towering 'do, as happens after an amusing turn of events in the 1995 episode "The Chatterbox."

Fran connects with eldest Sheffield kid, teenager Maggie, by treating her like a friend or sister, taking her to a salon and getting her a black bob wig. Her father is adamantly opposed to Fran Fine and her beauty stop-favoring ways, or at least when it comes to his daughter. After Fran confiscates the wig, she puts it on her own head, which turns her boss into a grinning, romantic fool. Fran feels so comically conflicted, both flattered and offended, that it took a change of her look to catch Mr. Sheffield's eye. She comes around when he spontaneously asks her out for a night on the town.

When Fran Fine met Fran Drescher

After six seasons, "The Nanny" neared its series end in the 1999 episode "The Baby Shower." A truly eventful series finale, it's packed with obstacles and milestones, such as pregnant Fran, ready to deliver her baby and enduring mood swings, and the crushing fear that Maxwell is cheating, as well as a very special guest star. 

Fran and Niles attempt to track down Maxwell in a presumed act of infidelity at his hotel, and at the front desk they meet famous celebrity Fran Drescher. Yes, thanks to a little split-camera trickery, Fran Fine, as portrayed by Fran Drescher, meets the "real" Fran Drescher, star of a popular TV series called "The Nanny," which apparently shares many elements with Fran Fine's life as a caretaker to three rich kids. Drescher truly shines acting against herself, maintaining chemistry and comic timing as the two Frans demonstrate their differences, like how the real Drescher's accent and laugh aren't as pronounced as her fictional counterparts. In all, it's a bit of meta silliness with some great lines about how "The Nanny" planned to cover Mr. Sheffield's supposed affair and Fran's pregnancy in the big season finale, and how Fran Fine thinks Fran Drescher won an Oscar for "My Cousin Vinny."