Fran Drescher, Millennial Whisperer

Courtesy of The New York Times

The former “Nanny” is back with a new NBC sitcom, “Indebted,” young fans like Cardi B and an arsenal of GIFs. “I’m kind of an influencer,” she said.

Fran Drescher’s voice, if you ever have the chance to hear it deployed in very close vicinity over shrimp tempura and spicy tuna sushi, is actually quite soothing.

When Drescher played Fran Fine on “The Nanny,” the 1990s sitcom she created with her then-husband Peter Marc Jacobson, she was pitching her voice higher, squeezing it up her nose, acting. Back then, The New York Times compared Drescher to “the sound of a Buick with an empty gas tank cold-cranking on a winter morning.” But here in her living room above Central Park, sitting among crystals, fresh lemons, fine sculpture and photographs of herself meeting establishment Democrats, she sounds more like a Mercedes purring out of the Long Island Expressway. For those who grew up with “The Nanny” as our nanny, her voice is so embedded in the subconscious that hearing the softened version is almost therapeutic. Imagine if Nanny Fine had an ASMR setting.

“I’ve heard it’s like a foghorn, a cackle,” Drescher said carefully, balancing her plate in the lap of her little black dress. “I always just describe myself as having a unique voice.” When she left Queens for Hollywood in the late 1970s, her manager told her, “If you want to play other parts, besides hookers, you’re going to have to learn to speak differently,” she recalled. Instead Drescher leaned into her natural gifts. In 1992, she pitched herself as a sitcom star to the president of CBS: “Because of the voice, they think I’m the seasoning in the show,” she told him. “That’s wrong. I’m a main course.”

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