Who's the Boss? was a standard sitcom--turned on its
head. Sure, there was a mom, a dad, two cute kids, a house in the suburbs... and
a live studio audience. But Angela Bower (Judith Light) was a single advertising
exec with a son (Danny Pintauro) and Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) was a widowed
ex-ballplayer with a daughter (Alyssa Milano). The
Connecticut mansion belonged to Angela and Tony wasn't her boyfriend, but rather her housekeeper. Then
there was her mother, Mona (Katherine Helmond). The sexed-up,
slightly cracked grandmother is a primetime staple, but in the former Soap matriarch's hands, the character was a cut above.
As Angela complains to her in the pilot, "You've sent me a man for a
housekeeper!" "Oh, don't be sexist," Mona replies. "A man can do
meaningless, unproductive work just as well as a woman." Meaningless, unproductive work is what Tony does for the Bowers--and does
well--but he and Samantha (Milano) also become part of the family. Angela and
Tony go on a number of dates with other people, but there's an obvious sexual
tension between them. The show would continue to exploit that tension for eight
seasons to great success (even inspiring a British version called The Upper
Hand, with Honor Blackman as the "Mona" character).