Gimme A Break was an American sitcom that ran for six seasons (1981-1987), starring Nell Carter
as a maid for a white family. Much of the comedy derives from the foibles of the three teenage daughters.
The series contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents : Carl slaps Katie in the series pilot, which was Fair for Its Day, but unheard of today.
- Amazing Freaking Grace : Nell sings at a funeral.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome : The "wacky" Swackhammer character, who served as a foil to Nell, disappeared after a few episodes in the first season.
- Cousin Oliver : Joey, played by JoeyLawrence.
- The Danza: Three of them. Nell, Joey, and Matthew.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune : Nell Carter sings the main theme. Nell Carter was an accomplished stage performer and former dancer, so her singing chops were used frequently on the show.
- Ethnic Menial Labor / Mammy : Nell is a version of this, although she is the main character and receives top billing.
- Hollywood Nerd : Julie, the middle daughter, complete with Nerd Glasses.
- KavorkaWoman : Nell, despite being short, significantly overweight, and not terribly pretty, seems to have plenty of men hitting on her. Sometimes averted when a would-be suitor rejects her, but she's unfazed by any rejection.
- Live Episode: Did one in 1985.
- Missing Mom : The mother has recently passed away as of the start of the series.
- Modern Minstrelsy : An interesting example. Nell is putting together a charity show. Sam is mad at her for some argument, and convinces Joey to perform in blackface.
- Parental Substitute : Nell, first for the girls' mother, and then later after the death of their father. Sadly, Dolph Sweet passed away after the fourth season.
- Re Tool: Season 6 moved the show to New York, and Nell and Sam were the only ones left from the original cast.
- Retroactive Recognition: Joey Lawrence as adoptee Joey, and a very young Rosie O Donnell.
- Sassy Black Woman : Both Nell herself and her friend Addie.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl : Sam and Katie (the youngest and eldest daughters), respectively. Sam wears a Tomboyish Baseball Cap.
- Unintentional Period Piece : As with most sitcoms from The Eighties, the clothing and hairstyles are very dated.
- Very Special Episode:
- Carl has to deal with the aftermath of shooting a man dead.
- Joey insults Nell by dressing in blackface.
- The series also had to address the real-life death of costar Dolph Sweet.
- Vocal Dissonance : Nell's friend Angie is a Statuesque Stunner ...until she opens her mouth and speaks in her high, squeaky voice. It's Played for Laughs, as the laugh track goes crazy even when her lines aren't particularly funny.