Who's the Boss?

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Who's the Boss?
Who s The Boss.jpg
Title card from seasons 3–8
Created by Martin Cohan
Blake Hunter
Starring Tony Danza
Judith Light
Alyssa Milano
Danny Pintauro
Katherine Helmond
Theme music composerMartin Cohan
and Blake Hunter (lyrics)
Larry Carlton and
Robert Kraft (music)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes196 (list of episodes)
Executive producersMartin Cohan
Blake Hunter
(both; entire run)
Danny Kallis (season 8)
Production locationsUniversal Studios Hollywood
Universal City, California
(1983 Pilot at Stage 42
1984–1985 at Stage 44)
Sunset Gower Studios
Hollywood, California
(1985–1988 at Stage 77
1988–1992 at Stage 15)
Camera setup Videotape; Multi-camera
Running time23 minutes
Production companies Embassy Television (seasons 1–2)
Embassy Communications (seasons 3–4)
Hunter/Cohan Productions (seasons 4–8)
ELP Communications (seasons 4–8)
Columbia Pictures Television (seasons 4–8)
Original network ABC
Original releaseSeptember 20, 1984 (1984-09-20) 
April 25, 1992 (1992-04-25)
Related The Upper Hand
Living Dolls

Who's the Boss? is an American sitcom television series created by Martin Cohan and Blake Hunter, which aired on ABC from September 20, 1984, to April 25, 1992. Produced by Hunter-Cohan Productions in association with Embassy Television (later Embassy Communications and ELP Communications) and Columbia Pictures Television, the series stars Tony Danza as Tony Micelli, a former Major League Baseball athlete who strives to raise his adorable daughter, Samantha Micelli, who is portrayed by actress Alyssa Milano, outside of the hectic nature of New York City and relocates her to Fairfield, Connecticut, where he works as a live-in housekeeper for a beautiful single advertising executive named Angela Bower, who is portrayed by actress Judith Light. The series' cast also includes Katherine Helmond as Angela's mother, Mona Robinson, and Danny Pintauro as Angela's young son, Jonathan Bower.


The show became one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1980s. The series was nominated for more than 40 awards, including ten Primetime Emmy Award and five Golden Globe Award nominations, winning one of each. Also very successful in the ratings, Who's the Boss? consistently ranked in the top ten in the final primetime ratings between 1985 and 1989, and has since continued in syndication worldwide.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRatingViewers
First airedLast aired
1 22September 20, 1984 (1984-09-20)April 16, 1985 (1985-04-16)3115.8
2 26September 24, 1985 (1985-09-24)May 13, 1986 (1986-05-13)1021.1
3 24September 23, 1986 (1986-09-23)May 19, 1987 (1987-05-19)1022.0
4 24September 22, 1987 (1987-09-22)May 17, 1988 (1988-05-17)621.2
5 25October 18, 1988 (1988-10-18)May 16, 1989 (1989-05-16)720.8TBA
6 26September 19, 1989 (1989-09-19)May 8, 1990 (1990-05-08)1217.9TBA
7 25September 18, 1990 (1990-09-18)May 7, 1991 (1991-05-07)1915.0 [lower-alpha 1] TBA
8 24September 28, 1991 (1991-09-28)April 25, 1992 (1992-04-25)768.513.0

Widower Anthony Morton "Tony" Micelli is a former Major League Baseball player who was forced to retire due to a shoulder injury. Wanting to move out of Brooklyn to find a better environment for his daughter, Samantha, he takes a job in upscale Fairfield, Connecticut, as a live-in housekeeper for divorced advertising executive Angela Bower and her young son Jonathan. He and Samantha move into the Bower home. Also appearing is Angela's feisty, sexually progressive mother Mona Robinson, who dates all kinds of men, from college-age to silver-haired CEOs.

The title of the show refers to the role reversal of Tony and Angela. Angela is the breadwinner of the home, and Tony (although he is not her husband) stays at home and takes care of the household and provides guidance and support to the children, Samantha and Jonathan. It challenged contemporary stereotypes of young, Italian-American males as macho, boorish, and wholly ignorant of life outside of urban working-class neighborhoods. Tony was depicted as sensitive, intelligent, and domestic with an interest in intellectual pursuits, and yet still athletic and streetwise.

The easy-going, spontaneous Tony and the driven, self-controlled Angela are attracted to each other, though both are uncomfortable with the notion for much of the show's run. While there is playful banter and many hints of their feelings for each other, Tony and Angela do their best to avoid facing this aspect of their developing relationship and date other people. Angela has a steady romantic interest in Geoffrey Wells (Robin Thomas), while Tony has a variety of girlfriends who come and go, including Kathleen Sawyer (Kate Vernon) in seasons six and seven. In the meantime, however, they become best friends, relying on each other frequently for emotional support. In addition, Tony provides a male role model for Jonathan, while Angela and Mona give Samantha the womanly guidance she had been missing.

Keeping ties with Tony's and Samantha's Brooklyn roots is motherly former neighbor Mrs. Rossini (Rhoda Gemignani), who ends up becoming a thorn in Mona's side. Several other friends turn up a few times each season, sometimes in New York, sometimes in Connecticut.

Angela eventually strikes out on her own and opens her own ad firm in season three, while Tony decides to go back to school, enrolling in the same college that daughter Samantha would later attend. Samantha's best friend Bonnie (Shana Lane-Block) is a recurring character during these seasons, while romance comes into her life in the form of boyfriend Jesse Nash (Scott Bloom) during her senior year of high school and into college.

At the start of season eight, Tony and Angela finally acknowledge their love for each other. However, the series does not end 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 also vehemently opposed the marriage, saying it would contradict the original purpose of the show.[ citation needed ]

During the final season, Samantha finds a new love in Hank Thomopoulous (Curnal Achilles Aulisio), who became a full-time character in January 1992. A fellow college student, Hank was originally poised to enter a medical program, but soon decides to become a puppeteer. Sam and Hank marry after an engagement lasting a matter of weeks.


Cast of Who's the Boss? WhostheBoss4.jpg
Cast of Who's the Boss?


Who's the Boss? was created by television producers and business partners Martin Cohan and Blake Hunter in 1983. [1] [2] In early development, the series was titled You're the Boss, in reference to Angela employing Tony and the gender role reversal. [3] Before the fall 1984 premiere, the producers changed it to Who's the Boss?, an open ended title which hinted that any one of the leads could get their own way and be the "boss". [3] Unlike Danza, who had served as the Tony prototype from the beginning, Judith Light was one of many who auditioned for the role of Angela. [4] She was eventually cast based on her performance, which Hunter commented as "class [...] Jean Harlow type, or more of a Meryl Streep." [4] The character of Mona was initially created as an older sister to Angela, but as Cohan and Hunter struggled to handle the casting of the role, they decided on re-writing the role into "a free spirit with a quick tongue," who they envisioned Katherine Helmond to play. [4] Danny Pintauro and Alyssa Milano were also cast based on their auditions. [4]

The series' pilot was shot in November 1983, a full 10 months before the show actually went on the air. [3] ABC originally was planning to put it on mid-season in January 1984, but due to creative differences[ vague ] between the producers and the network, the show was delayed until the next season. The show debuted on September 20, 1984, up against the debut of another sitcom, NBC's The Cosby Show .

In the fall of 1991, after seven years on its established Tuesday night slot, Who's the Boss? was moved to Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. (against NBC's The Golden Girls ), along with fellow long-running sitcom Growing Pains . In February 1992, ABC added the long-running Perfect Strangers and the new cartoon Capitol Critters to the night. It was promoted as the new I Love Saturday Night lineup, an equivalent to the hit Friday TGIF block. Who's the Boss? moved to 8:30 p.m., with Capital Critters as its lead-in. The I Love Saturday Night banner proved to be short-lived, folding on February 29, 1992; Who's the Boss? moved back into the Saturday 8/7c slot in early March.

The series's ratings dropped significantly in its new time slot, and the decision was made to end the series in the spring of 1992. [5] The hour-long series finale aired on Saturday, April 25, 1992, along with the finales for Growing Pains and MacGyver.Who's the Boss? reruns continued to air through the summer. [5]


Critical reception

Early reviews of the series were lukewarm. Jerry Buck, writing for Ocala Star-Banner , noted that while the series "doesn't have the same impact [as The Cosby Show ], it's not bad, either." He compared Danza and Light's on-screen chemistry to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. [6] The Pittsburgh Press criticized that "the show may have a universal theme [but] it's hard to find," while Duane Dudek of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel summed the series as a "pleasant little sitcom" which was not a "struggle for mastery [but] in some ways, a rather old-fashioned love story." [7] John J. O'Connor of The New York Times was complimentary of the female leads, Light and Helmond, but was concerned if Danza, who "spends a good deal of time with his shirt off and his thick weight-lifted physique" would "keep this sitcom in ratings shape." [8]

Awards and nominations

Who's the Boss? was nominated for more than forty awards, including ten Primetime Emmy Award and five Golden Globe Award nominations, winning one each; [9] Katherine Helmond received the 1989 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film, while Mark J. Levin was awarded the 1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lighting Direction for a Comedy Series for his work on the episode "Two on a Billboard." [9] Frequently nominated at the annual Young Artist Awards, Milano earned three awards for her portrayal of Samantha. [9] Danny Pintauro and recurring guest Scott Bloom received one award each. [9]

Theme song

The show's theme song, "Brand New Life", was written by series creators and executive producers Cohan and Hunter, with music composed by Larry Carlton and Robert Kraft. Three versions were used throughout the series' run, which were performed by Larry Weiss (1984–86), Steve Wariner (1986–89), and Jonathan Wolff (1989–92). [10] [11] The third version was first used for the last eight episodes of season six, and a very minor revision of that particular version of the theme was used during seasons seven and eight.

The first line of the theme song was changed from "There is more to life than what you're living" to "There's a time for love and a time for living" in season three onwards.



ABC aired reruns of Who's the Boss? at 11:00 A.M. (EST) during its daytime schedule from June 1, 1987, until July 1, 1988; it was replaced by Growing Pains on the daytime schedule. The series entered off-network syndication to premiere in September 1989; the show was a success in syndication and was offered to KTTV Fox 11 local stations (including Atlanta-based Superstation TBS and Secaucus, NJ-based WWOR-TV/Channel/UPN 9) throughout the 1990s. TBS premiered the show in October 1994 for one full hour at 7:05pm/et until July 1995 when it moved to one airing at 6:35pm/et weekdays. TBS moved the show to mornings where it aired from October 1995 until December 1996. TBS would bring back the show for one last time August 1997 to October 1997 again airing one full hour at 7:05pm/et. The show aired on Fox 11 KTTV from September 1989 until October 1997.

Fox Family/ABC Family aired the series in 1999 until 2003. Nick at Nite broadcast the show between 2004 and 2006. In 2005, TV Land broadcast the show as part of Nick at Nite's 20th Anniversary Celebration. The series also aired on Ion Television from July 2007 to February 2008, airing Monday-Thursdays at 9:00 and 9:30 pm. ET. [12] It began airing on the Hallmark Channel in an early afternoon weekday block beginning on May 17, 2010, and ran until April 2, 2011. The series began airing on TVGN in July 2012, and on Hub Network from April 1 until July 12, 2013. On June 1, 2014, the show joined the regular TV Land schedule. [13]

Several episodes from seasons one, two, and eight was formerly viewed for free in Minisode format on Crackle, formerly owned by Sony Pictures Television and Amazon's IMDb TV service . [14] [15]

On August 22, 2019, it was announced that Antenna TV would be airing reruns of the series in the fall of 2020. On July 20, 2020, Antenna TV announced that they would begin airing reruns of the series on October 5, 2020. [16] [17]

The series began to air on the new Great American Family network on Monday, November 29, 2021.

The series also began to on IFC on March 24, 2023. [18]

In Canada, the entire series can be streamed for free on the CTV's streaming service, CTV Throwback. [19]

The series is currently available for streaming online on Tubi and Sony Pictures' YouTube channel, Throw Back TV in the United States. [20] [21]

Home media

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment released the first season of Who's the Boss? on DVD in Region 1 on June 8, 2004. [22] The remaining seven seasons have yet to be released due to copyright issues.


The first attempted Who's the Boss? spin-off had its origins in the second to final episode of season two, "Charmed Lives", a backdoor pilot for a program about two women up for the same job as well as overall being a series about the lives of single career women in the '80s. Starring Fran Drescher and Donna Dixon, it was not picked up as a series.

In 1987, producers had planned a spin-off entitled Mona, which focused on Mona's character leaving Angela to help her brother Cornelius run a seedy hotel in Manhattan. [23] The third season featured this plot in a two-part episode, but when ABC changed their mind about the spinoff, fearing what Mona's departure could mean to the show, the ending was rewritten to feature Mona returning to Angela's home. [24]

The third attempted spin-off, which did make it to series, was titled Living Dolls . Premiering and ending in 1989, the show starred Leah Remini, Michael Learned, and Halle Berry. The show featured Remini, who had appeared in two Who's the Boss? episodes as a friend of Samantha's, as a homeless model taken under the wing of an agent played by Learned. In those same Who's the Boss? episodes, Jonathan Ward played Learned's son Rick; in the Living Dolls series, David Moscow took over the role.

Reboot/sequel series

In August 2020, a revival/sequel of the series was announced. [25] It is slated to premiere on Amazon Freevee. [26]

International versions

Several versions of Who's the Boss? have been produced for foreign television markets. Some are dubbed and others are remakes. In many cases the names of the lead characters were changed:

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  1. Tied with The CBS Sunday Movie


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