As an 80s child myself, this effort was one of America's memorable sitcoms during a decade where the TV industry was saturated with the likes of The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Facts of Life to name on our TV screens. Who's The Boss is undoubtedly one of the best family-based sitcoms ever: a divorced but wealthy career woman, going by the name of Angela Bauer, -played by Judith Light- lives at home with her son, Jonathan and whose mother, Mona occasionally drops by to pay a visit. Angela hires a hunky, ex- Major League baseball player, Tony Michelli- Taxi's Tony Danza- as her housekeeper: he brings along his daughter, Samantha, played by Charmed's Alyssa Milano and the pair move into Angela's house.
Angela is uptight-some would say pretentious and is yet a well- educated, intelligent and ambitious woman, who at first, is so tied to her work that she doesn't seem to have time to relax and have fun with the kids. Tony on the other hand, is a fun-loving, humorous, New Yorker, whose mischievous and larger than life persona springs to life from the very first moment he enters Angela, Jonathan and Mona's lives. Amidst the positive effect he has on not just the kids and Mona, but Angela especially. And it is down to his effect on Angela, that as we see as the series progresses, she becomes less uptight and more sensitive, caring and loving, in addition to being more assertive and confident. Both as a mother to the kids and towards Tony, particularly as her feelings towards him develop further on, from employees, to friends, and then onwards as lovers. The emotional and sexual tension between Angela and Tony is well developed and the writers and performers did a good job in projecting that chemistry and making those characters believable, to the extent to which we as the audience, wanted to root for them to get together.
Thus, the fact that Who's The Boss, managed to sustain the interest in Angela and Tony's relationship throughout the 8 seasons, without it diminishing the standards this show has set is a testament to the quality of the writing, the humour and the performances themselves.
Today, Judith Light is well known to many of us for her role as stern, no-nonsense, Claire Meade in ABC's Ugly Betty, but here as Angela, she is wonderful as she plays against type as a down-to-earth, sensitive-yet modest career woman and single mother. Personally, for me it was refreshing to see a younger Judith, looking beautiful and elegant throughout this sitcom.
Having seen Ugly Betty and Who's The Boss, I can understand why she is considered by many people- within the TV industry and outside of it- as a great character actress. She has this ability to play certain roles that are as varied and diverse, as well as ones that challenge her acting capabilities. Her level of experience on screen and stage, not to mention her knowledge of this business, from an acting perspective makes her one of the most well respected and under rated actresses around today. And with 'Who's The Boss?' Judith hardly puts a foot wrong; she looks radiant and glamorous as the attractive Angela. Tony Danza is as charismatic, charming and witty as he is as Tony and together, the pair make a great sitcom couple.
There are many sitcoms which encompass the romantic pairing of two characters, but not many shows are able to develop that chemistry and relationship further along throughout the duration of the series and in a way that makes sense to its viewers. 'Who's the Boss?' with Tony and Angela, on the other hand, did just that, courtesy of the performances given by Danza and Light. It was at times amusing, interesting and touching, without being too sappy.
Overall, this was an underrated show that never got as much recognition that it deserved and is a likable take on the employer/employee relationship; a theme that was employed during the first 2 seasons of the 90s LL cool J and Debbie Allen sitcom, In the House. I have to admit I didn't like this show when it first came out, but as I watch the episodes as a 20 something person, it made me appreciate Who's The Boss more, as well as to understand and getting used to its humour.
As I said, the 80s was a great cultural period for Television in the States, and 'Who's The Boss?' was one of those shows that best reflected and represented American family life and culture during that decade, in the way that it did.