|Posted by richb on May 7, 2012 at 8:00 AM|
In honor of Mothers Day next weekend I present a four-part series of articles looking at sitcom mothers. Mothers on sitcoms have a lot of responsibility, they have to take care of a home whileraising the kids and dealing with a husband who is usually a pain in one way oranother. Some mothers are "perfect", while others are downrightawful. There are lots of mothers out there so narrowing it down to five was noteasy. However, I managed to come up with my picks, and I can’t express enoughthis is just opinion.
#5 Marion Cunningham (Happy Days)
Happy Days is corny as heck, but the actors on it did agreat job making their characters fun to watch despite the corny dialogue andsilly stories. Marion is a prime example; Marion Ross gave a very memorablecharacter who I wish had been seen a little more. Usually when you think ofmom's from the 50's you think of the type played by Alley Mills in The WonderYears. Perfect with a smile which never broke for anything. Marion was a littlemore realistic, believe it or not. She could be calm when she needed to be andtough when she needed to be. She was the only character who had the nerve tostand up to the Fonz, even calling him by his real name. She tended to be amother to all the cast no just her kids. There is one moment where Chachi says hehas to marry Joanie, and misunderstanding Marion goes over and starts tostrangle him! Great mother played by a great actress.
#4. Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show)
What can I say about Claire that I haven't said before? Shewas strong, intelligent, and never afraid to speak her mind. She was funloving, but you sure didn't want to cross the line with her. She was strict,but firm. The best example of her mothering probably comes in the episode aboutVanessa wearing make-up after she had been told not to. Claire is very tough,but fair. First she gives herself a chance to cool off, and then when she doestalk to Vanessa it isn’t yelling and screaming. She explains that she and Cliffmake rules and expect them to be followed, simple as that. Phylicia Rashadbought enough class to the character so she didn’t come off as a snob. And itwas the cool, calm way she would deal with her kids that was amazing. It showsher kids really respected her, and didn’t want to do anything to make her mad. Unlikeprevious mothers like Edith Bunker, Claire was smart and able to stand on herown.
#3.Carol Brady (The Brady Bunch)
You have to respect a mother who has to be in charge of sixkids. Yeah, sure she had help with Alice, but still! Carol was the perfectmother, but you know she could lay down the law when she had to. In the episodewhere the kids chase Alice away after a series of misunderstandings, Carolreally chews them out over it. I know I was hard on her in a previous article,but the truth is Carol really tries to be there for her family and FlorenceHenderson did a great job of creating a character that wasn’t just a cartooncut out (despite what those dumb movies would have you believe). Yeah, sheworried a lot but isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do? Besides I alwaysthought Maggie on Growing Pains was worst, every time she whined “Oh Jason!” Iwanted to tear my hair out. Carol may have worried about her kids but she alsothem them grow and evolve.
#2. Elyse Keaton (Family Ties)
This is the one mother I knew I wanted on this list. Shedoes not get the appreciation she deserves because of course when most peoplethink Family Ties they of course think of Michael J.Fox. But she was a greatmother, always there for her kids. She was amazing at bringing Alex down toEarth when he started getting arrogant, pushing Mallory when she needed alittle motivation, or being there for Jennifer as she dealt with growing up.She also had her husband, and Elyse was great at letting him go off the deepend and knowing when to reel him back. Unlike some sitcom mothers, she didn’tgo running to her husband when problems arise she will deal with it directly. Inone episode When Alex defies her she drives miles just to yell at him and bringhim home. Or Take the episode where Mallory is seduced by a friend of thefamily, she literally hunts the guy down and comes close to beating him up! Youdon’t mess with her kids! In the series finale she is the only one who can’t handleher son leaving for New York. Her first baby leaving the nest, of course thatwould be hard. Why can’t other shows be as honest as that?
#1. Jill Taylor (Home Improvement)
What makes Jill special enough to be #1 on my list? Of allthese women, she was the one mother who was allowed to have actual problems. Idon't just mean her inability to cook or keep a job either. She was a flawedperson, with all kinds of personality quirks. She could never admit when shewas wrong, had trouble dealing with her parents, and could often be a littleover analytical. I think these flaws make her more real, and we relate to that.She also did the frustrated housewife bit great, being angry when she needed tobut without it becoming her whole character (like a certain other mom namedDebra who yelled so much it became a regular joke). She was a great mother whowas always there for her kids, and when they did something to make her unhappyshe had no trouble expressing that. Take the episode where Tim finds Marijuanain the house, Jill is protective of her kids at first but when Brad turns outto be the culprit she had no problem getting upset with him, even being the oneto bust him. She is also honest with him in the scene, explaining that she hadtried the stuff before which is why she didn’t want her kids doing it. How manymoms are honest like that?
June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver)
If anyone set the standard all these women follow, it'sBarbara Billingsley's character on this classic sitcom. She was the quintessentialTV mom.
It may be hard to believe, but Murphy Brown wasa bit of a pioneer. In the past when we meet our single mothers, they arealready single mothers and we accept that. With Murphy, we got to see herbecome a single mother, step by step, and had a front row seat at the controversy that can be caused in the public domain when a woman who is notmarried and has a high profile job has a baby. I'll never understand why thisis such a taboo, but it was enough for then Vice President Dan Quayle to mock it in a speech. Singlemothers, and single fathers, are just as strong and important as mother's whodo have families. They have the same struggles and same hope for theirchildren, and whether by choice or circumstance they are still mother's inevery sense of the word. That is what Murphy Brown reminded us.
Roseanne deserves special mention because she, like Murphy Brown, broke a taboo about mothers. In the past, only single mothers had to work. Roseanne was the first mother who had to work, she didn't have a choice. This show was a much more realistic look at families then we had seen in the past, which is what makes it so memorable. Sure you can nitpick the way she picks on her kids (I have in another article), but deep down you know that she loves her family and would do anything for them.
I know people will comment on the mother’s not on here. Where’sLois from Malcolm in the Middle? Or Samantha from Bewitched? OrFlorence from Good Times? Or Peg from Married...With Children? Or Edith from All in the Family? Or even Marge from The Simpsons? There are lots of sitcommom’s out there, but these are the five I like the best. Please free to commentif you think someone else deserves to be here.
Tomorrow we will broaden our definition of mother’s a bit asI look at my top 5 favorite aunt’s.
Categories: 80's and 90's central