In its six seasons on CBS, The Nanny never broke into the Top 10 in ratings, peaking at #16 in season three. And this was before it was nearly canceled after a dismal first season. It was not a critical darling, nor an award-winner, garnering only one Emmy in its entire run: Best Costume Design. Yet despite a modest first-run performance, The Nanny has achieved great success in the years since its cancellation.
The Nanny soared overseas. Dubbed versions were broadcast worldwide with minor tweaks for cultural relevance. And then, Sony Pictures Television began marketing franchise licenses. By licensing The Nanny, foreign producers not only gained access to the story and scripts – they gained the authority to completely remake it.
So what makes the story of a Jewish-American girl with big hair from Flushing who serendipitously ended up as a nanny for a wealthy, British theatrical producer so darn universal? Show creator Fran Drescher chalks it up to the appeal of blue-collar meets blue-blood. The details might not be universal, but class struggle is. Here are some of the more successful adaptations.
Russia: My Fair Nanny
When it premiered in 2004, The Nanny was the first sitcom to ever air on Russian television. It was in such demand the producers ran out of scripts and hired some of the show’s American writers to create more.
Instead of being a Jewish-American woman named Fran from Flushing, “Vika” is a Ukrainian woman who moves from her working class neighborhood of ???????? to be a nanny for Maxim’s swanky Moscow family.
The Polish version ran for 134 episodes, boasting millions of viewers. Remaining pretty faithful to the original, Niania named its main characters Frania and Maks. Unlike the original, however, the Jewish heritage of the original character was omitted and Frania’s nationality is never really addressed.
In the opening credits, Frania takes a trolley to uptown Warsaw instead of hailing a cab.
Greece: ? ??????
This version aired on Greek channel Mega TV for two seasons.
In the original version, the wealthy father character was British and quite uptight. In this version Aris appears to be openly lecherous when it comes to the nanny named Mary. Also, the butler has foregone clean-cut suits for a more casual sweater and slacks look.
Argentina: La Niñera
After being kicked to the curb, Florencia Finkel shows up at the door of Juan Manuel Iraola. She hails from provincial neighborhood Lanús, an industrial hub located south of Buenos Aires. Juan lives in the upscale Buenos Aires neighborhood of Barrio Parque. Re-runs are still shown in Venezuela, Puerto Rico and on satellite channels.
La Niñera’s opening credits completely forgo the signature animation and theme song of the original.
Mexico: La Niñera
The Flushing of Mexico City is Roma, a declining neighborhood west of central Mexico City that, unlike Flushing, has become a trendy bohemian enclave in more recent years. As in the original, Francisca Flores is hired by a wealthy theater producer to be a nanny. In this version, Maximiliano Fabregas lives in Polanco, known for its impressive mansions and having the most expensive land prices in Mexico City.
The animation is similar to the original, but this version’s star, Lisset, sings the revamped theme song.
Chile: La Nany
Eliana Tapia Cardenas finds herself ousted from La Florida, a provincial commune in Santiago. She heads for the most prestigious neighborhood in all of Santiago, La Dehesa. There, she is hired by successful publicist/dad Max Valdivieso.
The opening credits use their own unique animation. One notable difference is Max is not dressed in a formal suit, and looks more like a playboy.
This appears to be the inaugural adaptation. Set in Istanbul, Melek becomes the nanny for Ömer’s children. Instead of big poofy hair, often a joke in the original version, Melek has short, spiky hair.
Here’s part of an episode with English subtitles. Like many of its peer adaptations, the opening credits do not use the animation or theme song.