Role reversal was the central theme of this sitcom – where the woman was the breadwinner and the man taking care of the household.
Who’s the Boss? starred Tony Danza as a retired major league baseball player who wants to move his daughter, played by Alyssa Milano, out of Brooklyn.
He becomes the housekeeper for divorced Judith Light, an ad exec living in Conneticut with her son, played by Danny Pintauro and her Mother, played by Katherine Helmond.
On Who’s the Boss?, Tony plays Father figure to the young Jonathan as well as becomes the best friend of Angela, creating some sparks on the way, as Angela passes on womanly advice to the budding teen Samantha.
Already a successful tv star from his stint on the series Taxi, Danza was the brash loud Italian with swagger who could still mop and cook, while Light portrayed the uptight working woman who needed to prove her worth as much as she wanted someone to be on her side.
This half hour sitcom debuted in 1984, and did well, making ABC tv execs very happy with the ratings. But the show had its rocky period, with Danza staging a two week walkout over due to differences with the script and directors. Crew endured this power play and reportedly wore t-shirts that stated I Survived Week Six when the storm of Danza had blown over.
This sitcom was eventually moved to pair up with another ABC fave – Growing Pains – and ran its course after eight seasons. I occasionally watched this sitcom – not for Danza or Light but for Katherine Helmond, who acted like a 20 year old despite being a Grandmother, with her busy dating life, sexual innuendoes and enivable social status.
Who’s the Boss? always seemed like such a silly premise, almost far-fetched, but for the 1980s, it was the perfect half hour of the new style of family.