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The Nanny Funniest Moments Ranked

"The Nanny" revolved around Fran Fine, a woman who unexpectedly becomes a nanny for the three children of a wealthy British play producer in Manhattan. "The Nanny" aired on CBS for six seasons – from 1993 to 1999 — and unapologetically presented a Jewish American protagonist and integrated Jewish religion and culture into the content. A 2021 Teen Vogue article praised the "celebratory, unabashed representation Jewish women deserve," which again speaks to the show's continued relevance. Fran Drescher (who played Fran Fine) led a fantastic cast of comedic actors that included Charles Shaughnessy as Maxwell Sheffield, Lauren Lane as C.C. Babcock, and Daniel Davis as Niles.

"The Nanny" is a classic sitcom that is experiencing a resurgence in popularity now that it has become available on HBO Max. Drescher even noted the show's newfound resurrection in a 2021 interview with Yahoo!, in which she also discussed the Broadway musical adaptation she is working on. "I'm so grateful," she said. "It's become an imprint on me. I mean, this is what my life is, and it's strange 'cause I didn't know that going in. I don't even know what it's going to be like when it's not part of the zeitgeist of popular culture 'cause I've been living with it for so long." In celebration of the one-of-a-kind sitcom, here is a list of "The Nanny's" funniest moments, ranked in descending order.

14. Fran sets Yetta up

Any appearance from Fran's grandmother Yetta is a welcome one in our books. Whether she is confusing a sweater for a starving puppy or retelling the story behind her old love letters, Yetta is always a hoot. Our favorite Yetta storyline happens in the second season, in the 18th episode, when Fran attempts to set Yetta up on a date with a famous playwright Maxwell is courting. As Yetta, actor Ann Morgan Guilbert absolutely slayed in "The Nanny Behind the Man."

Mr. Sheffield is originally ecstatic that Fran has set the playwright up with an eligible bachelorette. Upon finding out its Yetta, the two get into a heated fight. But when they go back into the living room, the two golden agers are bonding over weird moles on their bodies. "If this is how you do business, just show me where to sign," the man tells Maxwell. And then Yetta attempts to school C.C. on how to get a man. "It's all body language," she says, before showing us her sexiest walk as she exits the scene, with C.C. mimicking behind.

13. Fran reacts to Danny's engagement

Fran gets dumped (and fired) by her boyfriend Danny in the pilot episode, so you would think she would be over him by Season 3. But when Danny gets engaged in the season's fourth episode, "The Shopaholic," it causes Fran to completely lose it. She goes on a shopping binge to end all shopping binges, securing her place amongst the greatest shopaholics ever featured on television.

After finding out the news about Danny, we see Fran and Grace "Gracie" Sheffield shopping in a department store. "Fran, you're scaring me," says Gracie. "You buy something every time you mention his name." The highlights of the scene — and what really make it uproarious — are in the physical humor that Drescher does so well. She snatches a dress off a mannequin with the flick of a hand, and then gets down on the ground to fake an allergic reaction as a decoy so that Gracie can grab her the fake Gucci belts she wants.

12. Fran thinks Niles is a killer

Fran Fine was many things, but bright was not one of them. And so, it was always fun to see the character get her lines crossed or misunderstand something, especially because her wild imagination usually filled in the blanks in a hilarious but bonkers way. Take, for example, the time that Fran became convinced that Niles was a cold-blooded killer, which happened in the 18th episode of Season 4, called "The Facts of Lice."

It all starts with Fran finding a note that someone dropped on the stairs of the mansion. On it are things like "secure alibi," "cut phone line," and "clean up blood." When Niles acts defensively and grabs his list back, Fran's mind goes to a place where no rational person would immediately go. "Oy Val, when I saw that list, I just got chills up my spine," she told her best friend in the next scene.

Fran and Val are at the pharmacy, in line to buy lice shampoo (all of the kids have lice), which is a fun storyline in itself. And dim-witted Val only serves to amp up Fran's delusions when she says, "I'm telling you Fran, Niles fits the profile. Serial killers usually have menial jobs, no long-term relationships, and deep-seeded issues with their mother." The two then gasp and pull away from each other upon realizing that Val just described them both to a T. It is our favorite Fran/Val moment – though them getting caught in a hurricane is a close second.

11. Maggie's Sweet 16 turns into a food fight

Season 3's fourth episode is centered on Maggie's Sweet 16 party, but it is more about the Fine family than anything else. In "A Fine Family Feud," Fran convinces Maxwell to let her plan Maggie's birthday party, which she hopes to make fun and exciting rather than the stuffy affair Maxwell wants to take place at The Guggenheim. Fran ends up planning a disco bash at her aunt Frieda's club, which deeply upsets Sylvia, who is feuding with her sister-in-law. Frieda was wonderfully played by actor Lainie Kazan, who appeared in a total of four episodes throughout the show's run.

Things at the party end up becoming very messy — literally. After Frieda and Sylvia get into it with their words, Frieda grabs an eclair, licks it, and rubs it all over Sylvia's cleavage. A giant food fight then breaks out, mortifying Maxwell but pleasing Maggie, who has a blast. The best part of the entire scene is the small moment where Max and Fran are fighting and walk by a seated Sylvia who is licking food off her face. "Lovely party," she says. Indeed, it was.

10. C.C. clucks like a chicken

For many seasons of "The Nanny," it is fact that C.C. and Niles are sworn enemies. It is also a fact that C.C. is in love with Maxwell, who either has no idea or (more likely) has no interest in her in that way. Mr. Sheffield's disinterest does not stop C.C. from flirting, and we learn exactly how far she will go for Maxwell's affection in "Pen Pal," the first episode of Season 3.

In the scene, we first see C.C. setting a romantic vibe for Maxwell, lighting candles and laying out champagne. When the door opens behind her, she seductively moans, "Maxwell, darling, is that you?" before the shot opens wider and we see that it is, in fact, Niles. Niles dims the lights, tells C.C. not to turn around, walks up behind her, and blows on her. "Tell me what you want me to do," C.C. says. And then Niles makes her cluck like a duck, which she does for "Maxwell," eventually turning around mid-cluck and giving us one of her classic C.C. screams. Lauren Lane kills it in the scene, and it is a true shame that the actor no longer works because she has comedic gifts that cannot be taught.

9. Fran drunkenly gets in bed with Maxwell

Fran is a hoot, and the show makes it very clear that she knows how to have a good time. Still, we rarely see her drinking — as opposed to C.C., who constantly has a martini in hand — and so, it is all sorts of fun when Fran gets absolutely hammered in the 24th episode of Season 2, entitled "Strange Bedfellows," But Fran getting drunk at a retirement party is just the start of the humor.

Fran can barely make it in the door when she returns home to the mansion, falling in the entryway and then tumbling into a plant in the hall. When she thinks she has made it to her room, she drunkenly enters, singing "She Works Hard for the Money," and sits on the bed. It is then that we see she is actually in Maxwell's bedroom (he is fast asleep). Despite managing to change her clothes and dance around the room, she somehow does not realize where she is and gets in bed next to her boss.

And then, suddenly, it is morning, and Maxwell and Fran are cuddled together as Niles grins widely over the bed. He shuts the blinds, throws down some rose petals, and leaves the room so that it looks like something sexual happened between them. And then he sends C.C. in with some breakfast — which means we get the fabulousness of not only C.C.'s reaction to the surprise bedfellows, but also Maxwell and Fran's reactions to waking up together.

8. C.C. catches Niles dancing

"The Nanny" team loved to draw from other pop culture texts — especially in its episode titles, which ran the gamut from "A Star is Unborn" to "Frannie's Choice" to "Franny and the Professor." But the show also often made references to other TV and film in the actual episodes as well — and Season 2's sixteenth episode "Canasta Masta" is a prime example. The episode itself is about Brighton replacing Fran on Sylvia's canasta team, but the standout comedy moment has nothing to do with card games.

The hilarious moment in question has Niles sliding into the camera's view without his pants, channeling Tom Cruise in "Risky Business." With the mansion to himself, our favorite Butler lip syncs "Old Time Rock & Roll" into a makeshift microphone while clad in sunglasses, a White button-down, his boxers, and socks with garters. As he dances around the entryway — quite well, we might add — he gets wilder and wilder, even going so far as to take his "microphone" duster and start strumming it like a guitar.

It is a cute scene, but what takes it over the top is the moment that Niles' rival C.C. opens the front door behind him. He sees her, shuts the music, and says, "You realize, of course, now I'm going to have to kill you." And while the enemies eventually become love interests and marry later in the show, this moment was a fantastic win for C.C., who always seemed one step behind in their feud.

7. Chester eats Lambchop

Chester was an adorable Pomeranian that belonged to C.C. on "The Nanny," but was in actuality, Fran Drescher's real-life companion, whom she had for 19 years before he died in 2000 (via Animal Fair magazine). Chester appeared in at least a dozen episodes of "The Nanny," but never was he so prominently featured as he was in "Lamb Chop's on the Menu," a Season 2, Episode 20 episode. In the episode, C.C. is attempting a move into film production, and she is courting famed puppeteer Shari Lewis for a vehicle starring Lewis and Lamb Chop, the sock puppet that made her famous.

Lamb Chop makes her grand entrance by hitting on Maxwell – turns out the puppet is kind of a pervert! — and the big joke is that the fictional version of Lewis has an unflinching seriousness about how Lamb Chop be treated as an actual human. Later, Fran and Val sneak into Lewis' room and find the puppet tucked into bed with an eye mask on. As they are busy rummaging through Lewis' stuff, Chester grabs Lamb Chop and eats her. C.C. freaks out — even though the dog is hers — and Fran is then forced to create a fake lamb to try to trick Lewis.

6. Fran gets turned into a socialite

In the third episode of the show, Fran does her best to become a refined socialite. The episode – titled "My Fair Nanny" – is a play on the plot of "My Fair Lady," wherein Fran is Eliza Doolittle and Maxwell and Niles stand in for Professor Henry Higgins. The episode is wonderful, and the scene in question produced one of the most quotable "The Nanny" lines ever — "how now brown cow?" — which we really cannot do justice in print form.

So, why was Fran trying to mask her natural Queens fabulousness? It was all for Maggie's debutante luncheon, and because of Fran's fear that she would embarrass Maggie in a room full of high society snobs. With the help of Maxwell and Niles, she changes her entire look, posture, voice — everything. And while we have seen this sort of thing before — they teach Fran to use the right fork, walk with a book on her head, and speak in a more refined manner — it is the moment when Fran glides down the mansion stairs in a pantsuit that is the gem of the episode. "Hello, how do you do?," she says, in a voice that not even her own mother could recognize as her own.

5. Sylvia runs away with a cake

As Fran's mother Sylvia, Renee Taylor was not technically a main cast member for the majority of "The Nanny," save for its final season. And yet, Taylor appeared in 94 episodes and Sylvia was consistently one of the funniest characters to grace the screen. We had many choices for our list, including the time Sylvia was so upset that she could not eat (spoiler alert: it did not last long) and the time that Fran needed to calm her down by giving her "medicine," a teaspoon of chocolate syrup. In the end, we decided upon another food-focused scene from an episode entitled "One False Mole and You're Dead."

In the 12th episode of Season 5, Sylvia is struggling to keep to her diet (a running theme for the character). As she sits in the kitchen with Val and Yetta, listening to Fran complain, all Sylvia can do is stare at a giant chocolate cake on the table in front of her. "Has anyone noticed how I haven't touched the cake?," she asks proudly. Cut to a minute later, when Sylvia says she is going to stick the cake in the fridge — "out of sight, out of mind" she says — only to run up the stairs with the baked good instead. "Stop her, she's got the cake!," Fran yells, as she takes off after her mother. The scene gets extra bonus points for Yetta, who pulls a rotary phone out of her purse because she is expecting a call.

4. Fran and C.C. get locked in a cellar

While Fran and C.C. never saw eye to eye, some of the best scenes had the unlikely duo acting like they were, well, friends. Season 2's 10th episode, "The Whine Cellar," was one such instance, forcing the pair to be in each other's company when C.C. and Fran accidentally lock themselves in a wine cellar during Sylvia's 50th birthday party. Though she rarely got the attention she deserved, Lauren Lane's work as C.C. was always top-notch, and this is a prime example of how easily she went head-to-head with Drescher.

We first see C.C. in high spirits as she rolls into the wine cellar to grab a bottle (she is even singing!), but tides quickly change when she breaks the door handle off. By the time Fran sashays onto the scene in her tiny sequined dress, we can already see where things are going. C.C. screams as the door closes behind Fran, who accuses C.C. of running "hot and cold" and of being menopausal.

There are many highlights to this wonderful storyline, but Fran freaking out and pounding on the door is one of the best. Others include the duo trying to trigger an alarm with nail clippers — only to realize they instead cut the fan off — and the exchanging of wonderfully-timed face slaps. The real showstopper, however, is unquestionably when Fran gives C.C. a makeover, filing her nails and teasing her hair to the high heavens.

3. The cast puts on a show while Niles performs

Fran so rarely mentions having a sibling that it was surprising when her sister Nadine showed up in Season 2's 22nd episode, "What the Butler Sang." Nadine arrives after having left her husband, and she gets under Fran's skin when she starts to flirt with Mr. Sheffield. So, Fran calls Nadine's estranged husband to come pick her up, and all of this comes to a climax as Niles sings a beautiful song for a room of investors as part of an audition for Maxwell's next play. As he belts, we see and hear a massive fight break out between Nadine, her husband, and Fran (glass doors are no cover for voices like Fran and Nadine have). "Mr. Sheffield is out there with a bunch of rich people, trying to shake them down," Fran yells at the other two. When she realizes everyone can hear them, the three then start dancing like backup artists.

All of the dramatics cause C.C. to take off in pursuit of Fran  –screaming "Nanny Fine," of course — and as she descends down one corridor, Maxwell takes off for another. We see the whole crew running behind the glass doors before Maxwell grabs Fran by the nose and drags her into the kitchen. All the while, Niles is beautifully singing in the living room. It is a perfect scene that allows all of the adult cast members (and the two guest stars) to shine.

2. Fran tries wasabi

In Season 3's 17th episode, titled "Val's boyfriend," Fran tries wasabi for the first time. And let's just say that it is much more of a delight for us, the audience, than it ends up being for her. In the scene in question, we see Fran and C.C. at a sushi bar. "You've had sushi before, haven't you, Nanny Fine?," C.C. asks. Fran says yes, but makes it very clear that the answer is no. She then proceeds to try to eat a fake shrimp.

When their sushi arrives, Fran asks C.C. what the "green stuff" is, and when C.C. says it is like mustard that "gives it a real kick," Fran proceeds to build a giant pile of wasabi on her sushi roll. As Fran starts to feel the effects of the burn, Fran Drescher's insane comedic chops have never been better. It starts with the facial reactions, then her hands become involved, and then she falls to the floor. "Gee, you know that mustard really clears up the nasal passages," Fran says in a completely different voice, as she gets up from the floor. Her voice then transitions back into the nasal whine that we love so much.

1. Fran preps Mr. Sheffield for surgery

One of "The Nanny's" most discussed episodes is "Close Shave," the 21st episode of Season 2. It is the episode where Maggie works at the hospital as a candy striper, and where Mr. Sheffield ends up needing an emergency appendectomy. Because Fran is covering for Maggie — who went off on a date — she is tasked with prepping Maxwell for surgery. The prep scene tops our list of all-time funniest moments from "The Nanny."

Fran Drescher is a queen of physical comedy, and this particular scene allows her to utilize her natural gifts. As part of the surgical prep, Fran must shave Maxwell's genital region — something that we see Fran realize in real time, only after she starts applying shaving cream to his face. Once she is properly instructed about where to shave, she begins randomly squirting shaving cream under Maxwell's gown — trying not to look at his junk — and then awkwardly massages it in. Of course, Niles enters the room as she is doing so, armed with flowers and a sharp-daggered quip. "Bucking for a raise?," he asks. The scene is worth watching, if only for Drescher's facial reaction at the end.