The realm of nanny-related entertainment has come full circle, and it’s about time.
The history of nannies is a fascinating one, with many twists and turns. They first arrived on a big boat called the Mayflower, but at that point in time they were known as “midwives,” and their responsibilities included a) disciplining their master’s children, b) teaching their master’s children, c) knitting, and d) having their master’s children. This was good because it gave the actual, non-biological mothers of these children increased time to do things like go to Curves.
When television arrived years later, on a separate boat, someone – I think it was Karl Marx – had the idea to incorporate the lifestyle of the nanny into the stream of mass entertainment. It all started with “Mary Poppins,” which was so influential that it bypassed television and went straight to the movies. “Mary Poppins” was a British nanny who flew on an umbrella to save children from misbehavior by singing her ass off. She would later go on to star in “The Sound of Music,” but not before teaching millions and millions of children worldwide how to be disciplined by someone other than their actual parents.
But that was only the beginning of the nanny-craze. Immediately after he saw “Mary Poppins,” Tony Danza wrote the script to “Who’s the Boss.” Except this time, there was a twist – not only did Tony Danza NOT use an umbrella (he was from Brooklyn), he was also a man, which strayed from the overall perception of nannies being overweight, British, singing females. And “Tony,” as I will refer to him from hereon in, had increased responsibilities as a male nanny. Not only did he have to perform the usual duties of cooking and sleeping, but he also had to raise an obviously gay son that wasn’t even his, deal with the rapid maturation of an increasingly good-looking daughter that WAS his, curtail his lust for an increasingly non-attractive Judith Light, AND deny advances from a slutty, wisecracking grandmother all at the same time. Tony made the best of his situation however, as he could often be seen doing “crazy” and unorthodox things like vacuuming the curtains, and making grilled cheese with an iron. Also, he lived in the garage, where he would cry at night.
But the nanny-craze didn’t stop THERE either, if you can even imagine. Shortly after “Who’s the Boss” tanked, a show aptly named “The Nanny” began airing on all televisions that didn’t blow-up at the impact of Fran Drescher’s voice. THIS time, the presentation of the nanny was RE-reversed as, not only was Fran Drescher a moderately attractive woman who was last in line when God handed out vocal chords, but she was an American who half-heartedly raised the children of a British person! Can you believe it – us Americans trying to raise children?! Well-behaved BRITISH children nonetheless?! Sheesh. Anyhoo, that show sucked.
There was also a movie about a nanny who wanted to murder the family she was working for and take the baby for herself, but then was killed in a picket fence-related accident. That was the low point of the nanny-craze, because then everybody started trying to raise their own children, because they were scared of nannies, which, in turn, created Eric and Lyle Menendez. And Eminem.
Which brings us to the here and now. The nanny-craze is BACK, and if you don’t believe me, just check out the 17 nanny shows on television right now, like, “Nanny 911,” “Super Nanny,” “Nanny Dearest,” “Has Anyone Seen My Nanny?” and “Nanny – Special Victims Unit.” The funny thing is, each one of these shows has the EXACT same premise, but that hasn’t stopped my wife and I from watching all of them, all the time.
The current trend of nanny-related entertainment has returned back to the Mary Poppins style, and Mary Poppins has, apparently, gained 120 pounds. For example, each one of these current shows uses British nannies. In fact, on “Nanny 911” there is actually a lair of British nannies who, at the beginning of each episode, watch televised highlights of badly-behaved families, until the Master Nanny assigns one of her subjects to the family in question. In “Super Nanny,” it’s the same British nanny every week, and she arrives at her destination in a 1960’s style Brit-mobile, with the license plate “SUPRNANY,” so as not to confuse her with all of the other super nannies on the road being chaffuered in 1960’s style Brit-mobiles.
The crux of each show is this: Unfit American parents have a child. They cannot discipline him/her because they are spineless pushovers who couldn’t raise a cactus, much less a human being. Unfit American parents have 11 more children. The children take over the house, until every moment becomes a scene from “Lord of the Flies.” They hit each other, curse at their parents, break things, urinate on the dog, listen to 50 Cent, etc. The parents put a call into “Nanny 911,” or one of the many other nanny hotlines with operators standing by.
(As a side note, unfit American parents also inexplicably have a beautiful home, which would indicate that they are adept at certain things, like business-related activity, although this is extremely odd considering their children eat dog poop off the floor.)
An overweight British nanny arrives at the front door one day. The kids don’t know who she is, so they urinate on her. She is aghast at the behavior, but is only there to assess the situation at this point. Eventually, she sits the parents down to inform them, in a nice British tone, that they are worthless blobs of crap. But she will help them. The mother cannot warm up to the Super Nanny because those are HER kids, even though she was the one who had to call the Super Nanny because little Jimmy kicked her in the crotch last Tuesday. The dad could care less because he does absolutely nothing that involves disciplining his children, and except for his brief appearance at the sit-down nanny interview, you would not even know he exists.
Nevertheless, the nanny goes to work, which involves a) setting up a schedule of when to eat, and where to poop, b) teaching the parents to communicate with their children through words, and not indifference, and c) preaching non-violence to the kids, except in the face of extreme circumstances, like if somebody steals your crayon. With seven minutes left in each show, it appears as if there is no hope, because little Suzy just barfed up detergent and aspirin, but after the commercial break, everything is fine. The nanny has made the inept parents realize that the kids aren’t the problem – they are. Because they’re idiots. In turn, they have been able to utilize the nanny’s techniques in an adequate manner that makes the nanny believe that they “get it,” although things will undoubtedly go right back to normal the second Super Nanny removes her fat butt from the premises. Everyone tells the nanny that they love her, and they symbolically give her a key to the house, but specify that it’s only to be used in an emergency, like if they move.
Then the nanny gets stabbed to death by a sharp picket fence. So if you're in the market for a nanny, you're going to have find someone else.
Operators are standing by.