TV Milestones: The Nanny

Associate Professor David Slucki

About the project

In this project, contracted to be published by Wayne State University Press, I investigate the recent upsurge in interest in The Nanny and what it has to teach us about contemporary Jewish life. I argue that the series is a milestone in popular culture representations of Jews, and particularly Jewish women. Many of the most celebrated recent series featuring wily, strong Jewish women, such as Broad CityThe Marvellous Mrs. Maisel, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, would not have been possible without Drescher's sharp-witted and fabulously dressed nanny. The Nanny marks a turning point for American Jewish culture, and signalled a sharp uptick in Jewish visibility in popular culture more broadly. Moreover, The Nanny broke new ground not only in terms of Jews, but in the way it brought a camp sensibility to mainstream audiences in a medium that is notoriously conservative. Drescher’s has long been considered a gay icon, and the queer overtones that punctuate the series are an important part of that image, and this project investigates the series’ importance in representing queerness to a mass audience.