Fran Drescher Teases Her ‘Older Version of Fran Fine’ on NBC’s ‘Indebted’
The holiday season is over, but TV has some new gifts you’ll never want to return. Settle in for 12 months of fan-favorite stars (Fran Drescher, Edie Falco), inspiring physical feats (the Olympics), new streaming services, and another must-see season of Outlander.
Pop the champagne! Fran Drescher is coming back to TV. It’s been a while since the actress, best known as bubbly Fran Fine from the ’90s sitcom The Nanny, delighted us with her delivery of hilarious one-liners in that signature nasally voice. Drescher’s last sitcom, TV Land’s Happily Divorced, ended in 2013; now, seven years later, she’s headlining the NBC midseason comedy Indebted.
“When I first started out, I always said I played the hooker with the heart of gold, but now I’m playing the grandma,” Drescher says with a laugh. “It’s a crazy awakening to [my] own journey. The common denominator [among my roles] is a woman who’s comfortable in her own skin, funny and maybe self-deprecating — she doesn’t take herself too seriously.”
Drescher’s Debbie is one half of a loving but broke baby-boomer couple, the Kleins; husband Stew is played by Wings veteran (and Drescher pal) Steven Weber. Because of the pair’s financial difficulties, the two must move in with their son Dave (Adam Pally, The Mindy Project), daughter-in-law Rebecca (Saturday Night Live alum Abby Elliott) and two young grandchildren.
For creator Dan Levy and executive producer Doug Robinson (The Goldbergs), booking Drescher was a dream come true. “When you grow up loving great sitcoms, to have Fran was a huge gift,” Robinson says. In fact, before casting even came into play, the script used the phrase “Think Fran Drescher” to describe her character.
Debbie is the stereotypical Jewish mom: a little loud, obsessed with babying her son (the 62-year-old Drescher jokingly calls their relationship “almost Oedipal”) and flashy in her fashion. “She definitely has a lot of zhuzh,” Drescher says. “She’s a 2020, older version of Fran Fine.”
Her husband, however, is as laid-back as it gets. “He likes to spread a gospel of happiness. He’s the type of older gentleman I aspire to be,” Weber says. Stew remains upbeat even though business is bad (he hawks cheap As Seen on TV products à la the ShamWow). “He wasn’t trying to scam people, but he got caught up in some scummy investments because he trusts too much,” Weber adds.
Their setback comes at a moment when Dave and Rebecca are finally getting some precious alone time because the kids no longer require constant supervision. Then the new tenants arrive. “The show is about parenting your parents,” notes Levy, who conceived Indebted after discovering his own mother and father lacked a plan for retirement.
“It’s about having your parents in your space and [that tension of] trying to get them out.” One idea to get Debbie and Stew back on their feet is for Dave and his house-flipping business partner Ravi (Asif Ali, Wrecked) to redo the older couple’s place in the hopes of turning a profit. Stew also tries his hand at being a ride-share driver, while Debbie toys with a career as a life coach. Meanwhile, Dave’s often overlooked sister, pet shop owner Joanna (Jessy Hodges, Barry), observes the struggle from a distance.
Many of Indebted‘s jokes revolve around the generation gap between the thirtysomething parents and the sixtysomething grandparents, a divide that becomes evident in everything from pop culture references to child-rearing practices. (The senior Kleins believe the proper amount of cash for the Tooth Fairy to leave a child is…$100!) “I keep saying to Steven, ‘I can’t believe that we’ve lived long enough to [become] the butt of these jokes!'” Drescher says.
When producers were first pitching the show, they would reference 1996–2005 favorite Everybody Loves Raymond, and Drescher’s summary matches up: “It’s not hitting you over the head with anything. It’s a place where, for 22 minutes, you can just laugh out loud and enjoy this zany family all trying to live together.” Emphasis on trying.
Indebted, Series premiere, Thursday, Feb. 6, 9:30/8:30c, NBC