The title of the show referred to the clear role reversal of the two lead actors, where a woman was the breadwinner, while a man stayed at home and took care of the house, thus the question of who the "boss" really was. It challenged media stereotypes of Italian-Americans as wholly ignorant of life outside of urban working-class neighborhoods.
The contrast between easy-going, spontaneous Tony and driven, self-controlled Angela resulted in their mutual attraction. While there was playful banter and many hints of attraction for much of the run, Tony and Angela did not at first consummate the relationship, and dated others. Angela had a steady man in Geoffrey Wells (Robin Thomas), while Tony had many girlfriends who came and went, including Kathleen Sawyer (Kate Vernon) in seasons six and seven. Finally at the start of the eighth season, Tony and Angela admitted their love for each other, and had a whirlwind romance until the end of the series which did not close with the widely expected marriage but on a more ambiguous note. This was due primarily to concerns by the network that a marriage, representing a definitive ending, could hurt syndication. Tony Danza, too, vehemently opposed the marriage, saying it would contradict the purpose of the show.
In addition, Tony provided a much-needed male role model for geeky Jonathan, while Angela (and even Mona) gave Samantha the woman's guidance she had been missing.
Keeping ties with Tony's and Samantha's Brooklyn roots, motherly former neighbor Mrs. Rossini (Rhoda Gemignani) turned up a few times each season, whether visited by the cast in New York or by way of her coming to Connecticut. One of her very important appearances was in the Christmas episode of season two, in which Tony's childhood apartment was up for rent, causing Tony, Mrs. Rossini, and some other relatives to retrieve furniture and Micelli family possessions. Tony's final time in the apartment brought back serious memories of his late father, and how they were angry at each other when he died. Tony confided in Angela about his regret over not making up with him, but it was Mrs. Rossini who livened spirits for the Christmas season. Danza said later that this episode was based on a real-life experience with his own father, who had died on bad terms with him while Danza was starring in Taxi.
Amid the surroundings of prosperity between Angela and Mona (who eventually opened up their own ad firm together in the third season), Tony decided to go back to school, enrolling in the same college that daughter Samantha would later attend in 1990. Samantha's best friend Bonnie (Shana Lane-Block) was a recurring character during these seasons, while steady romance came into her life in the form of boyfriend Jesse Nash (Scott Bloom) during her senior year of high school and into college.
By the fall of 1990, with Samantha in the beginning of college and Jonathan in high school, Who's the Boss?, like other series getting on in years, fell victim to the infusion of a new "cute child" to the cast. For the seventh season, producers added 5-year-old Billy (Jonathan Halyalkar), a kid from the Micellis' old Brooklyn neighborhood, who seemed to move into the household but actually frequently visited. Billy was a comic foil to Tony, but also attempted to get into the mix in other character's storylines. He only lasted that season however. In the E! True Hollywood Story about the series, Katherine Helmond remarked that Halyalkar was a gifted performer but had difficulty catching up to the pace of the acting and writing that had been set by the cast and crew for several seasons.
In the fall of 1991, after more or less seven years on its established Tuesday night slot, Who's the Boss? was moved to Saturday nights, along with fellow long-running sitcom Growing Pains. Originally suspected by the insiders that the move was due to the show's waning popularity on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (respectively), ABC attempted to diffuse this fact by adding another long-running show with somewhat higher ratings, Perfect Strangers, to the Saturday lineup in February 1992. All three shows, along with the new cartoon Capitol Critters, launched the new I Love Saturday Night lineup - an equivalent to the hit Friday TGIF lineup. While Perfect Strangers saw a record ratings drop due to the move, Who's the Boss? (as well as Growing Pains) had been falling lower than ever all season, which led to the ultimate decision to end the series - while "some people were still watching". The hour-long series finale aired Saturday April 25, 1992, along with the finales for Growing Pains and MacGyver, which only aired on that night for its final show, even though it still aired on Mondays for its last season.
Four full versions of this song, as well as two short versions were used during the course of the series. The original version featured the opening verse, "There's more to life than what you're livin'", which was changed to "There's a time for love and a time for livin'" in the show's third season. The season three version also had the opening instrumental elongated and a slightly mellower music. A modified version was used during the show's seventh season and modified again for season eight. Various instrumental versions of this theme were used as a closing theme during the series.
The pilot episode's opening sequence featured the van (which supposedly belongs to Tony) driving from New York to the Bowers' house in Connecticut, with the cast and executive producer's names credited over it (the footage of the van driving to Connecticut was truncated to the very beginning of the opening for the beginning with episode two, limited to the first five seconds for the first two seasons and extended to the first twelve seconds afterwards with the remainder replaced with episode clips). During the first season, Alyssa Milano and Danny Pintauro were credited together (they were credited separately from season two onward).
The original airing of the pilot episode featured a slightly different intro, compared to what was used in later airings. In it, there were shots of Samantha and Tony in the van, as well as the two of them boarding the van, and then driving off.
Though the show had been broadcast in Germany in a dubbed version as 'Wer ist hier der Boss? since 1992 on RTL Television, a year later the channel produced 15 early episodes with a German cast. The Show was called Ein Job fürs Leben (A Life's Job). Tony was named Vito, an Italian guest-worker from Berlin-Neukölln and former striker of soccer club Hertha BSC Berlin. Angela Bower was named Barbara Hoffmann, their home was located in Hamburg's upscale suburb Othmarschen. Despite theses little changes, the original scripts were used for shooting.
In 2005, the Argentine network Telefé also made its own local version, called ¿Quién es el jefe? (a direct translation of the original American title) starring Nicolás Vázques, Gianella Neyra and Carmen Barbieri. In 2006, Colombian network Caracol TV did the same, producing ¿Quién manda a quién? (which was the title of the original show when dubbed in Spanish).
A Polish version I kto tu rządzi? debuted in 2007, starring Małgorzata Foremniak and Bogusław Linda. A Russian version - Kto v dome hoziain? (Who's the Boss in this House?) started on CTC - Moskva in 2005, starring Andrej Noskov, Anna Nevskaja and Darija Bondarenko.
Aired in France starting 1987, first on "Antenne 2" (now France 2) then on M6. The show is renamed "Madame est servie" ("Dinner is served" but literally "Madam is served", referring to Tony being Angela's housekeeper)
There were three episodes of Who's the Boss? that did not air during the show's original run. The first one was "Charmed Lives" in season 2, which was the pilot for the short-lived series Charmed Lives. The second was season 3's "Mona," which was a pilot for a spin-off about Mona that never happened. The third one was "Life's a Ditch" in season 6, originally a Living Dolls episode. Comcast has partnered with Sony to bring shows like Who's The Boss? from the 50's to the 90's through their On Demand service called Tube Time.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||22||June 8 2004|