The 1990s Comedy Series That Defined The Decade, Stream Without Netflix

By TeeJay Small | Updated

Today, multi-cam half-hour comedy series have largely gone out of style, with the format looking aged and reminiscent of the 1990s. While many shows maintained this format throughout the golden years of cable television, one of the most defining shows of that era is The Nanny, which ran for six seasons from 1993 through 1999.

If you’re looking for a nostalgic series to instantly transport you back in time to a world of Nintendo 64, mood rings, and pogs, you need to take a moment to binge through a few seasons of this iconic CBS sitcom for yourself.

A 90s Icon

The Nanny was created by series star Fran Drescher and her then-husband Peter Marc Jacobson. It centers on a fictionalized version of Drescher as she takes on the role of a live-in nanny for a trio of adorable wealthy children. As the show’s iconic theme music will explain, Fran originally showed up at the door of the Sheffield family with the intention of selling makeup door to door before falling into the role of a nanny through her style, flair, and compelling presence.

Niles Is The Real Hero

Over the course of six seasons, The Nanny relies on a number of running gags, inside jokes, and catch-phrase humor, each punctuated with the riotous laughter of the live studio audience. The show is heavily dated, with references to decades-old television programs, fourth-wall breaks, and nods to the camera, but in today’s era of sardonic humor and eight-episode seasons, it might be exactly what audiences need.

Perfect For Binging

Personally, I binged the entire series over the last few months with a friend, and we were shocked to see the 50/50 split on jokes that would hold up perfectly for today’s Gen Z audience and jokes that went way over our heads because we would have been babies when these pop culture references germinated.

Much of the humor in The Nanny also requires you to have at least a basic understanding of Fran Drescher’s actual life, as she based a ton of the characters, comedy, and wacky situations on her own personal experience.

A Prototypical Sitcom

Regardless, the barrier for entry on the show is remarkably low, even if you might be left scratching your head at a few jokes while the studio audience laughs themselves into an aneurysm.

Looking back with decades of hindsight, it’s easy to see why The Nanny was such a major hit in its day, as it contains everything that made that quintessentially 90s period of television so great. The show has tons of heart, a lot of sweet moments, and a main character who is equal parts freakishly attractive and unbearably annoying.

Relevant Today Thanks To Fran Drescher

In my opinion, The Nanny is as relevant as ever today, due to the real life exploits of Fran Drescher in the last few years. For those of you who don’t know, the former sitcom legend stepped into the role of President of SAG-AFTRA back in 2021, and was instrumental in navigating the terms and conditions of the union’s new deal with the major studios after last year’s lengthy strike.

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Today, Fran Drescher is a Hollywood icon, partially for her role as a union leader, and partially due to her instantly recognizable series, which has become a comfort sitcom for millions of viewers around the world. If you’d like to stream The Nanny today, the series is available to view on both Peacock and The Roku Channel. The show arguably deserves to be on a 90s sitcom Mount Rushmore alongside Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Frasier.