HBO Max recently added The Nanny to its lineup, and I’ve been gleefully rewatching all six campy seasons. If you’re not familiar with the plot, it’s a classic romantic comedy. It’s clear from the first episode that the nanny, Fran Fine, will end up with her handsome boss, Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield.
And yet, I find myself devouring episode after episode. What keeps me coming back? Certainly not the suspenseful plot. Personally, I love the theater references, the Lucille Ball-inspired antics of Nanny Fine, the punny humor, and the loud costumes.
I know I’m not alone. The show is experiencing a renaissance on its new streaming home. And while I was deep in a Nanny-binge the other night, it struck me that there’s a valuable lesson for brands to learn here.
Your story doesn’t need to be original. But it must have a strong point of view and be cleverly constructed.
So many brands and entrepreneurs hesitate to share their stories because they feel they need to find a unique angle. They hem and haw, looking for the one thing that makes them truly special. And in waiting for inspiration to strike, they sit back while other brands pass them by in creating and sharing content.
The fact of the matter is, very few things are truly unique. There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet at this very moment. Billions more have come before us. Any idea you have, it’s almost guaranteed someone else has had it before.
As much as it may pain us to admit, unless we're discovering a novel galaxy or finding a cure to cancer, our work is not new. I’m a writer, for crying out loud. How many other folks out there are marketing writers? (Answer: a lot.)
It’s not all bad news, though. When you let go of the pressure to define yourself as "the one person doing this thing," you free yourself up to share your story without worry. While what you’re doing need not be earth-shattering, your story, properly told, will allow the je ne sais quoi you bring to your work to shine through.
Interestingly, The Nanny jokes about the importance of just showing up. One of the recurring gags on the show is that Fran is not at all qualified to be a nanny. She gets the job because she just happens to appear on the Sheffield’s doorstep selling cosmetics on the very day Maxwell is desperately searching for a replacement nanny.
The lyrics of the theme song tell Fran’s journey:
She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens
‘Til her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes.
What was she to do?
Where was she to go?
She was out on her fanny.
So over the bridge from Flushing to the Sheffield’s door,
She was there to sell makeup, but the father saw more.
She had style, she had flair, she was there!
That’s how she became the nanny.
Honestly, if you’ve never heard the song it’s worth a listen. It’s a master class in succinct storytelling with a clear point of view. (Yes, I did just call something from The Nanny a master class. This is the hill I will die on.)
So go forth and share your story! Don’t worry about reinventing the wheel, but do let your style and flair shine through.