A fairly standard Dom Com series, starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as Mary-Kate & Ashley Burke, who live their ordinary pre-teen life — except for the fact that their widowed working father, Kevin, can't be at home all the time and therefore needs a sitter to be with them... and he's (at first) not impressed with Carrie, a student in his class whom his daughters picked as their nanny.
This show has parallels with Full House, the most obvious examples being both the prominent roles the Olsen twins take up and Miller-Boyett as production company. It ran for one season only and was the last sitcom produced by Miller-Boyett until their official final sitcom, Fuller House, debuted 18 years later. The show aired from September 1998 to July 1999 and ran for one season.
This show provides examples of:
- Alpha Bitch:
- Jennifer in her first episode. This gets dropped pretty soon and she is shown hanging around with Ashley all the time.
- A one-shot character (captain of the cheerleader squad), who has Ashley vandalize a Goth girl's backpack as condition to acceptance into the squad. note
- Ask a Stupid Question...: One exchange between Kevin and Eddie as the former is readying himself for a date.Eddie: With a woman?
Kevin: No, with a lab specimen. [forced laughter] Of course with a woman!
- Attractive Bent-Gender: This happens to Brian during the Halloween Episode after some costume swapping, something of which he is not fond.Brian: This is the worst day of my life! Two guys called me a hottie, and I got asked to a dance by a boy named Carl.Max: You didn't have to say yes.
- Back to School: When Kevin & Carrie first meet in one of his classes, he notes that she's older than the average college student, and she notes that she's decided to return to school.
- Big Eater: Carrie actually.
- Book Dumb: Mary Kate. She is not good at studies and needs a tutor, but she has more common sense than her book-smart but shallow sister Ashley.
- Brick Joke: The twins discuss Carrie having a tattoo that says "Jean Luc" in the pilot. In a later episode after Kevin walks in on Carrie in the shower, he asks who Jean Luc is.
- Bumbling Dad: Averted. Kevin is the butt of jokes a few times throughout the series, but he is shown to be a very competent, strong, and loving father. He also doesn't hesitate to lay down the law if Mary-Kate and/or Ashley step out of line.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
- Played with in the episode "Nightmare on Carrie's Street" when the twins sneak over to Carrie's college party without Kevin's permission. They get caught, but the end of the episode has them realizing they can still make a good story out of this.Mary-Kate: At least we get to tell Jennifer Dilber we went to a college party.
Ashley: Yeah, and a cop showed up.
Mary Kate: And we almost got arrested.
Ashley: I think we can make this work for us.
- Played with again in the episode "Mr. Right Under Your Nose" when Ashley, in a desperate move to raise more school funds, uses the current funds to engage in a betting operation that a boy in school runs, ending up losing the bet and the money. When she and Mary-Kate go to the boy to give the money to him, however, they meet him alongside his mother there, the latter of whom issues a cease-and-desist order on the betting operation and gives the money back.Boy's mother: You girls are getting off easy, and that's only because we have bigger fish to fry. (turning to the boy) Now... where's the boy with the pink slip to Daddy's Camaro?!
[The boy points in a direction off-camera, with his mother pushing him roughly along while both walk away]
Ashley: There IS a God.
- This also occurs in the episode "Kevin Burke's Day Off" where Carrie convinces Kevin to call in sick at work and go to a ball game instead, which is the first time he's ever played hooky. He wins a car because of this - and ends up on the big screen and the evening news. When his boss calls, the trope is revealed to be subverted; he was just asking to test drive the car.
- And then subverted in the episode "My Boyfriend's Back" when the girls throw a party at the house while Kevin is away. See Sarcastic Confession below.
- Played with in the episode "Nightmare on Carrie's Street" when the twins sneak over to Carrie's college party without Kevin's permission. They get caught, but the end of the episode has them realizing they can still make a good story out of this.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Eddie starts out as a regular member before disappearing about midway through the series' run without further mention. Kevin's brother Matt takes a similar role for the rest of the series.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The twins sneak their way around to a college party without Kevin's approval, so Carrie decides to have them stay... as clean-up crew.
- Cosmetic Catastrophe: Ashley gets an ink stain on her face and Carrie tries to cover it up with a lot of makeup.Ashley: "Oh my God, I look like Grandma!"
- Crack Defeat: Ashley auditions for a modelling agency but doesn't get it despite having prepared for weeks. Mary-Kate has no interest in it and ends up getting it with a sarcastic tryout. Turns out that Mary-Kate was just as interested in the modelling job, but didn't want to appear too enthusiastic to avoid ruining her reputation.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mary Kate, Kevin and Carrie.
- December–December Romance: The twins invoke this in the pilot by setting up their two elderly neighbors Mrs. Baker and Mr. Fillmore in order to make Mrs. Baker unavailable to be their babysitter. It not only works, but the neighbors do become a couple and are still together a few episodes later.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: The series deconstructs Papa Wolf in one episode. Ashley has a crush on her tutor but discovers he has a girlfriend and is heartbroken. When Kevin finds out, he fires the tutor thinking it would help. Instead, Ashley yells at him for meddling in her private business, and Carrie points out how Kevin assumed he would be helping rather than actually asking Ashley about her feelings. Kevin eventually admits it was more out of a desire to come across as a hero - and hires the tutor back.
- Even Nerds Have Standards: Mary-Kate's impression about Ethan, the boy who gets paired with her for a school project, is summed up in one dialogue with this trope in mind.note Mary-Kate: Dad, you know those kids who blow their nose and then spend just a little too much time looking at it in the tissue?Kevin: Yeah...Mary-Kate: Well, even THEY won't talk to Ethan!
- The Fashionista: Ashley.
- Fiery Redhead: Carrie. An ex-boyfriend of hers reveals she used to be worse.
- Geek Physiques: Paul, due to his tall and lanky appearance with barely much (or any) sign of muscle on his body.
- Halloween Episode. Mary-Kate and Ashley aren’t allowed to attend Carrie’s Halloween college party, so they bribe their friends Max and Bryan to switch costumes with them in order to sneak in.
- Hair Flip: According to Ashley, if a guy nods in greeting you should respond with one of these.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Carrie is a fairly mild example.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: A date Matt set up for Kevin.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Ashley falls for several different guys and frequently gushes about cute boys.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: In-universe example where the twins lie to their father's date as they're afraid of losing Carrie. She finds this sweet but immediately tells them off after a look from Kevin.
- Informed Ability: A plot point in one episode where a guy Mary-Kate likes says he only swing dances, and when she keeps asking him to dance with her (after learning how to swing dance), he rebuffs her before confessing he can't dance at all and just made it up as an excuse.
- Ironic Echo: In "Prelude to a Kiss," as Kevin denies the implications that he and Carrie are having an affair (see Not What It Looks Like below), Carrie fails to clear things up by replying, "No comment". Later when Carrie gets a good grade on a paper, her classmates imply she got it due to sleeping with the professor, so when Carrie asks Kevin to back her up he replies, "No comment".
- Karma Houdini:
- Carrie gets this a couple of times. She nags Kevin into asking out a waitress, convinced that they'll hit it off. Instead the waitress flips out because she hates being hit on at work, and Kevin has to find a new place to get coffee. Another episode had her rant to him about a model asking him out, suggesting she only did it to make herself seem smart. This ends up making Kevin paranoid and ruining his date. Carrie is never called out on this.
- Another episode has Kevin planning to break up with Nancy, but Carrie tells her by accident, making Nancy even angrier that she knew in advance as well. The episode ends with Kevin finding one of his car mirrors smashed and Carrie gets away scot-free again.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Jennifer Dilber, a vain, popular girl who frequently hangs out with Ashley.
- Lovable Jock: Mary-Kate herself. She acts tough but is clearly a good person.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Carrie is part this, part Magical Nanny.
- Missing Mom: Kevin is widowed. How this came to be is never revealed.
- New Friend Envy: "You've Got a Friend" has Mary-Kate jealous that Ashley keeps ditching her for her new friend Nicole. After Ashley ends up going to a movie with Nicole that she and Mary-Kate had already agreed to go see together, Mary-Kate pretends to be Ashley to break up their friendship, leaving Ashley furious when she finds out. Kevin is able to resolve this by explaining to Mary-Kate that Ashley is still her best friend and that Ashley shouldn't take Mary-Kate for granted just because she has a new friend.
- Noodle Incident: The twins make one up to scare their father's date. For some reason Ashley has so many germs they can't keep cats anymore.
- Not What It Looks Like: When Paul (Another of Kevin's students) turns up at the house delivering a pizza for the girls' slumber party, only to see Carrie lounging around their professor's house and painting her nails whilst he paid for a pizza, he came to the (not unreasonable) conclusion that they were having an affair. The whole class later finds out about it. But it’s Kevin who accidentally reveals it to them. Paul only told one classmate about it and it had yet to start spreading around.
- Polar Opposite Twins: Mary-Kate's a tomboy and Ashley a "girly-girl" and fashionista.
- Precocious Crush: Ashley has one on Mary-Kate's tutor Taylor, until she finds out that he has a girlfriend.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When Kevin's car breaks down and he needs to not only drop Mary-Kate and Ashley to school but get to work himself, he enlists Carrie's help. His initial attempt at instructing Carrie proves too complicated for Carrie to comprehend, so he simplifies his instruction to "Us... your car... now." Carrie understands at once, and all four of them make their way to Carrie's car, with Carrie saying that he should talk like Tarzan more often.
- Sarcastic Confession: The twins hold a party that escalates out of control later before Paul manages to make the guests leave, and together they tidy up before Kevin gets home. Then this occurs:Kevin: How was the party?One of the twins: It got very quiet after the band left.Kevin: Very funny.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Kevin and his brother, Matt. Earlier in the season, Kevin and his best friend, Eddie.
- Ship Tease: Carrie and Kevin a few times.
- Stab the Salad: The plot of the episode "Peeping Twins" though the audience knows from the start.
- Those Two Guys: Max and Brian.
- Token Minority: Max is the only black member among the cast.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Between Mary-Kate and Ashley.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Tomboy Mary-Kate reveals in "Model Behavior" that she can like "girl" things too.
- Treadmill Trauma: In the episode "Split Decision", Carrie goes on a date with Kevin's doctor, but she breaks off afterwards without letting the doctor know why. When Kevin goes to said doctor for health examination, the doctor, who's very determined to find out the reason Carrie hasn't contacted him after one date and suspects Kevin is keeping secrets from him, deliberately cranks up the speed while Kevin is on the treadmill to get more information out of Kevin.
- Twin Switch: As their father, Kevin is able to tell the difference almost immediately, though Carrie later picks up on it too.
- At one point they switch because Mary Kate doesn’t want to have tutoring lessons while Ashley has a crush on the tutor and wants to get closer to him. The gig is up once the original girl assigned fails a makeup test yet the girl he tutors shows drastic academic improvement.
- A one-sided incident happens when Mary-Kate pretends to be Ashley to break up her new friendship with another girl she was spending more time with.
- Wild Teen Party: All right, so the twins aren't teens yet, but the party they hold still turn into this. They aren't punished for it, however, because they clean up well before Kevin returns, and the truth Kevin gets about it is not quite full-fledged.
- Will They or Won't They?: Between Kevin and Carrie. Nope, but only because the show was Cut Short - the Season Finale ends with the two of them admitting their feelings as Carrie leaves for the summer.
- Witch with a Capital "B": The dialogue between Carrie and Mrs. Baker regarding Mr. Fillmore's sister, whom Mrs. Baker dislikes:Carrie: What is she, some kind of witch?Mrs. Baker: You're only one letter off.