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Old Sitcoms Are New Again, Just Ask My Teenager

The-nanny-fran-drescher A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with a few parents of teenagers, and the subject came up of how to better understand our kids. We all agreed that besides reading their diaries and tapping their cell phones, it was important to try and delve a little into their world for clues - what music do they listen to? What shows are they watching? Where are they hiding the beer?

That last one was a bad suggestion, and was thrown in by a dad who no one was listening to anyway - we just found him annoying and desperate in his hoodie and ripped jeans. And what 40-year-old man comes to dinner on a skateboard? Unfortunately I couldn't stick around for the end of the conversation - I'd promised my 11 and 13-year-old daughters that I'd be home in time to watch "The Nanny" Marathon with them.

That's right - "The Nanny," that 90's sitcom starring Fran Drescher as nasal-voiced nanny Fran Fine, is a big hit with my girls and apparently with their middle-school friends, too. Sure my older daughter loves "Fringe," and "Gossip Girl" and "Secret Life of an American Teenager" but when it came time to pick a Halloween costume, she got the wig, the dress and the boots and went as Drescher's alter-ego. (I'm sure there were 13-year-olds everywhere dressing up as middle-aged, Jewish, cosmetics-saleswomen-turned-nannies, right?) Unfortunately, this was one year I couldn't march into Party City at five o'clock on October 31st and plunk down my $19.95 for costume #162.

What do they love about it? Drescher's wardrobe for one - my daughters and their friends find her short, fitted suits, knee-high boots and leopard-print coats "tight" and "off the hook." (And I do, too.) I also think they actually enjoy a good old-fashioned, light-hearted sitcom - no teenage pregnancies or dead bodies to contend with here. Disturbingly, I've also overheard them say that they find Charles Shaughnessy, who plays the part of the the Nanny's rich British employer, Maxwell Sheffield, "kind of hot." Hey, I'm just repeating what I've heard during carpool, people.

Thanks to Nick at Nite, Nickelodon's night time programming, old sitcoms are once again being beamed into your living rooms: "Everybody Hates Chris," "Home Improvement," "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and another of my girls' favorites, "The George Lopez Show." In fact, when they went to a Jonas Brothers concert last year they hardly paid attention to what was happening on stage since they were too busy trying to chat up Lopez' daughter who was standing next to them. Even after my 11-year-old scored a guitar pick from the brother with the bushy eyebrows, the only thing she showed off at school the next day was a crumpled piece of paper with the cell phone number of her "new friend" scrawled on it. 

I've found that you can't take them too far back, though, as I learned recently when I showed my daughter and her friends one of my favorites, "The Brady Bunch." After a few minutes they just rolled their eyes, said they found everyone "totally unrealistic" and slowly drifted out of the room. Probably off to find all that beer they hid.

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It's true. My teen has been watching Roseanne and Fresh Prince and Lopez and...


My kids LOVE, "The Nanny"... as do I... all those rah-rah skirts with opaque tights and fitted blazers... it's a flashback!


My 8 & 11 year old boys just discovered "Malcolm in the Middle" on Nickalodeon and it's just as funny as I remember. I love Lois, the Mom!


Teenagers? You mean it's not cool that I watch George Lopez and Roseanne before I go to bed? Or maybe I AM that cool.


I catch "The Nanny" reruns for the same reason: sometimes you just need a good, light-hearted family sit-com. It's a shame they don't make too many of these anymore.

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