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Series / Melissa & Joey

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Guess which one's the nanny?

Melissa & Joey was a 2010 Sitcom that aired on ABC Family. It starred Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence as the two titular characters.

Local politician Mel Burke is a former Hard-Drinking Party Girl turned politician who must take care of her niece and nephew, Lennox and Ryder, after their mother is arrested and their father goes on the run for a ponzi scheme the father, Lewis Scanlon, pulled. Joe Longo is a former employee of Scanlon who was left broke, jobless and publicly shamed in the wake of the scheme, despite having known nothing about it. Unable to find work due to his tarnished name, Joe hits rock bottom after his wife leaves him, and confronts Mel during one of her public addresses.

Mel, who is struggling to handle both her demanding job and two unsettled teenagers, ends up hiring Joe as a live-in nanny. While they initially clash, Mel and Joe grow closer as they essentially raise Lennox and Ryder together, and are often mistaken as being a couple. They eventually admit their feelings for one another and end up married at the end of the third season.

The series lasted for four seasons, running from August 17th 2010, to August 5th 2014.

This series provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Mel and Joe enter a local version of Dancing with the Stars; both actors appeared on the real show at different times.
    • During the Halloween episode, Joe points out one of the guests at a party:
      Joe: Hey, a teenage witch. Why didn't you try something like that?
      Mel: Eh, been there, done that.
    • Joe also goes 'Whoa!' a few times and comments it's been a while since he's done that. This was his character's trademark catchphrase in Blossom.
    • Joe refers to Mel as his fake fiancée during the episode Joe Versus the Reunion, which is also the title of an earlier television movie the two starred in together.
    • In the Dancing With The Stars episode mentioned above, Mel's assistant gets Mark Ballas to agree to dance with Mel. Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas were dance partners on Dancing with the Stars.
    • Lennox's blog is called Lennox Explains it All.
    • Lennox gets selected to be a model. Taylor Spreitler (Lennox) used to be a model.
    • In one episode, Ryder says "One of those days I'm gonna run away, build my own house in the woods, and then you'll be sorry!" Which is the plot of the movie The Kings of Summer, Nick Robinson's (Ryder) first starring role in a movie.
    • In one ocassion when Joe claims his ravioli are world famous Mel pokes fun at him by asking "Are they really famous? Were they in Dancing with the Stars?", to which Joe mutters "Finished higher than you."
    • The Season four Halloween special "Witch Came First" is full of callbacks to Sabrina The Teenage Witch, complete with a cameo by Beth Broderick.

  • All Gays are Promiscuous: Bianca, the adulterous fiancée to Mel's lesbian cousin Emily. Not only does she hit on both Mel and Joe but she has a threesome with the hair designer and make-up girl on the day of her and Emily's wedding. Naturally, this results in the wedding being cancelled.
    • Averted with Emily who is profoundly offended by Bianca's transgression.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Mel. She usually wears heels, but is said to own over 30 pairs of Uggs alone.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Although they're the aunt and nanny, Mel and Joe are this to Lennox and Ryder.
    • Mel routinely threatens to show up at school in a bathrobe and cry, which immediately gets the kids to do what she says.
    • Joe showed up to Lennox's first All Night Party which prompted her friends to ask if she had forgotten her binky.
  • Ascended Extra: Joe's estranged daughter Dani becomes a regular for the show's fourth season only to return willingly back to her mother in the ninth episode Gone Girl.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Done with Joe and Mel, so much.
    • Lennox and Ryder have a few moments as well.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family:
    • Mel's sister — Lennox and Ryder's mother — is in jail, while their father is on the run. Mel is raising her niece and nephew because of this. It's implied that Mel and her sister didn't have the greatest childhood, with their senator father and alcoholic mother.
    • Joe is not any better. He had a previous relationship with another woman and only finds out that she had a daughter behind his back 13 years later. The kicker? Joe's sister knew about the child but kept it a secret from him; moreover Joe's first wife Tiffany was an absolute ditz and a massive gold digger.
  • Buffy Speak: Mel is guilty of using this several times
    "I'm gonna go ahead and take this brown ... food...meat.
  • Character Catchphrase: Joe has "She's not my boss. I'm freelance."
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Melissa's co-worker Rhonda who appears for five episodes and is never seen nor mentioned again and is promptly replaced by her assistant Stephanie who was only mentioned in passing once before appearing on-screen, Stephanie herself also disappears without explanation by season 4.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Joe marries his Russian girlfriend in the second season finale so she can get her green card, but they end up getting an annulment.
  • Clip Show: "Don't Look Back in Anger" has clips from past episodes which lead up to their relationship.
    • "Game Night" frames the show's last clip show as the series' two longest-running couples (Mel and Joe, Lennox and Zander) competing in a home version of The Newlywed Game.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • Mel says to Lennox and Ryder: "Stay out of trouble, or I'll come to your school and kiss you at lunch."
    • On another episode when Ryder lost his shoes, Mel tells him that she will show up in school in her bathrobe.
  • Cousin Oliver: Dani, Joe's previously unknown 13 year old daughter. She's introduced out of nowhere at the end of the fourth season, after Lennox & Ryder both graduated high school.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Both Mel and Joe are extremely good at this.
    • Ryder has his moments as well.
    • Lennox too.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Bianca, who makes a pass at both Melissa and Joe. Not to mention sleeping with the hair guy and makeup woman literally hours before she's supposed to marry Melissa's cousin Emily...
  • Dysfunctional Family: Mel, Joe, Lennox and Ryder are definitely this already, Dani, Gloria and Russel add to it from time to time.
  • Everyone Can See It: Numerous characters acknowledge Mel and Joe's chemistry long before they finally get together.
  • Fake Pregnancy: In "Mother of All Problems", Lennox pretends to be pregnant in order to get out of soccer practice.
  • Former Teen Rebel: In her youth, Mel was a fun-loving party girl.
  • Granola Girl: Lennox. She even passes up a potentially lucrative modeling gig because the company in question uses real animal fur.
    • She later becomes disenchanted with the lifestyle when a very fanatical college professor attempts to destroy a small pedicure business over ideological reasons.
  • Gold Digger: Joe's ex-wife Tiffany.
  • Home Porn Movie: In "Bad Influence", Joe and Ryder sell a video tape labelled "World Series" at a garage sale. It turns out to be a sex tape Mel made with one of her ex-boyfriends.
  • House Husband: Though he is technically Mel's employee, Joe performs the typical "house wife" role.
  • Humiliation Conga: Joe; full stop. After the scheme pulled by Lewis Scanlon, he lost everything he had and is demoted to working as a nanny.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: When Lennox learns that Ryder is being bullied, she responds "That's my job!"
  • Hypocritical Humor: Basically, every bit of advice Mel gives is contradicted by her own behavior.
  • Incompatible Orientation: In one episode, Mel goes on a date with a guy who turns out to be gay. Joe mentions during that same episode that he once dated a lesbian.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Lennox comes off like this.
    • Marco, Joe's nephew. He has a brief fling with Lennox during a trip to Jersey, then arrives in Toledo for Joe & Mel's wedding, and sabotages her relationship with Xander by revealing the fling. Then, when Lennox comes onto him out of revenge due to Xander immediately jumping into bed with his roommate, Marco turns her down because he genuinely likes her & doesn't want her to do something she'll regret, even apologising for being a dick & sabotaging her relationship.
  • Karma Houdini: Lewis Scanlon. He pulls off a Ponzi scheme and leaves several people to take the fall including his own wife and his friend Joe Longo. His first and only on-screen appearance shows him as supposedly remorseful for the harm he has caused only to end with him escaping the law again in Joe's Porsche.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Even before their Relationship Upgrade, Mel and Joe could easily be mistaken for a married couple. They lived together, raised two children and argued quite often but were shown to care for each other deeply.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Mel's cousin Emmy and her fiancee, Bianca.
  • Mama Bear: Perhaps not quite to the same instinctively as Joe, yet nonetheless she can rather protective of her niece and nephew.
    • In "Spice and Lies" Mel ran outside barefoot to confront Ryder's (mistaken) bully.
  • Marry the Nanny: Mel (who is caring for her sister's children) and Joe (the nanny hired to care for said children) eventually fall in love.
  • Missing Mom: Lennox and Ryder's mother, again.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: In "The Knockout", Joe mentions that his mother and aunt were the ones who taught him how to fight when he was a kid.
  • Old Shame: Mel views her old 'party girl' image as this.
  • Papa Wolf: Joe embodies this trope. He does not take kindly to anyone hurting Lennox, Ryder, or Dani. And some examples include Ryder's bully problem in "Spies & Lies" and Lennox's date in "Do As I Say, Not As I Did".
    Joe: "So, here's my plan: step one, find boy; step two, beat boy senseless; step three, enjoy the satisfaction of steps one and two."
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Stephanie is even smaller than Mel yet she can smash through door glass with a single swing of her purse.
  • Promotion to Parent:
    • The entire premise of the series is Mel having to do this. And now Joe, since Mel and Joe have decided they're co-parents.
    • Joe becomes a full-time parent to Dani when she moves in with them.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Joe gradually comes to realize that shamelessly being a male nanny means that he's one of the most masculine men in all of the Great State of Ohio.
    Joe(to a depressed Ryder whose girlfriend just broke with him): "That's too bad. Now be a man and put on your apron."
  • Rule of Three: In "You Little Devil", Joe becomes uncomfortable with Melissa's devil tattoo after finding out it was given to her by an ex-boyfriend. She decides to have it lasered off but Joe realizes he is being immature and tells her not to go through with it. The dermatologist complains that this is the third time today this has happened.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Mel and Joe are like this with each other, with Mel especially firm about it.
  • Shipper on Deck: Lennox ships Mel and Joe, as she keeps trying to push them to admit their feelings for each other.
  • Sleazy Politician: Averted by Mel, who appears to genuinely place the public good over her own career. There are plenty of straight examples, though. Also, some of the humour in the show comes from the conflict between Mel's politician instincts and her parental ones - see "Works For Me" where when Ryder is caught smoking pot and admits to it, one piece of her advice is wondering why he would lack the sense to actually admit to that to begin with.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Joe has one for Mel's brother-in-law in the pilot.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Bianca asks Mel if she's ever been with a woman, Mel replies "Nope! Never! Not even in college with my friend Renee!"
  • Think Unsexy Thoughts: When lying to Mel's friend about his job, Joe has to keep calling his mother to stop thinking about sex.
  • Tsundere: Mel turns into a heavy type A towards Joe. In one episode, she went back and forth between hating him and loving his cooking.
  • Twerp Sweating: Joe really likes to interrogate and terrify any boy who shows interest in Lennox.
  • Wedding Finale: Unsurprisingly, Mel and Joe tie the knot at the end of the third season.
  • World of Snark: It's gotten to the point where the priest at Mel & Joe's wedding snarks about how they both have a tendency to want to get the last word in, so they decided who would take their vows first by coin toss.
  • Why Can't I Hate You?: Joe has a habit of hooking up with "that Gold Digger who ruined [his] life."