(repost from May 2016)
In honor of Mother's Day today, I thought we'd recap the best TV moms.
Now this is not as easy as it sounds, considering that television is, for lack of a better term, a moral cesspool. But we cannot deny that what we watch on tv influences the culture, so we should try to find good examples of motherhood out there on the airwaves.
So these are not the funniest moms or even necessarily the best written or acted characters. These are simply the characters that are best at being moms on television.
10. Beverly Goldberg ("The Goldbergs")
Yes, she mixes in too much and she overbearing and a bit of a bully. But she is always trying her best to be the best mother she can be. And when she goes too far (which is every episode), she does pull back and make amends.
9. Frankie Heck ("The Middle")
The opposite of Beverly, Frankie tends to be much less involved in her kids lives. But as wrongheaded and unrealistic her plans sometimes get, she always comes back to the realization that her simple life in Middle America is pretty terrific.
8. Kitty Foreman ("That '70's Show")
She is a bit of a caricature, but Kitty was constantly there for all of her children and even her children's friends, prompting her husband to take in the wayward Hyde who had no one else. While the kids found her attitude to be a little much like child-like pandering, they came to appreciate how much care and attention she gave them throughout the years.
7. Virgina Chance ("Raising Hope")
Very tough and not that bright, Virginia always came back to a full beating heart when it came to taking care of her kids and grand kids. And she gave an amazing example of taking care of elderly family in the way she unquestioningly supported her grandmother no matter how her zany mind deteriorated.
6. Joyce Summers ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer")
For years, Joyce had to be the oblivious Lois Lane character who was blissfully unaware that someone she loved had a secret super hero identity. But when she found out she had to work through all of the fear, trauma, and mistakes that a single mother with an extraordinary child can make. In the end, she gave her daughter as much comfort as she could while preparing her to be strong and independent after she was gone.
5. Debra Barone ("Everybody Loves Raymond")
Tending to be the sanest person in the family, Debra was the rock on which the whole household was built. She brought stability to counteract Ray's stupidity. She was, of course, not perfect. But her imperfections only highlighted her virtues. And I love the fact that for her, giving up her career to raise her children was a choice that she freely and happily accepted, without bitterness, longing, or complaint. She showed that it was okay to choose family over jobs without it being a sign of weakness.
4. Lorelai Gilmore ("Gilmore Girls")
A lot of people could complain that Lorelai was too much of the "cool mom" who tried to be the best buddy to the child rather than a stable authority. But that overlooks the fact that when it came crunch time, she played the mom card. Two moments stick out to me. 1. Lane was out without her moms permission and she called Rory. Rory said that she would call Lorelai and assured Lane that Lorelie would not tell Lane's mom. Upon receiving the phone call, Lorelai tells Rory that she is immediately going to call Lane's mom. Despite Rory's please to "be cool," Lorelai understood that motherhood involves not being cool sometimes. The second moment is when Rory sleeps with a married man. Rory desperately wants Lorelai to be approving, but Lorelai will not budge because of the great moral wrong her daughter has unrepentantly done.
3. Claire Huxtable ("The Cosby Show")
Claire Huxtable is a wonderful role model for a number of reasons. She was a smart, but tough mother; you did not want to get on her bad side. She was a successful lawyer, pushing her children to achieve their dreams with hard work. And she was a loving and devoted wife. Often when you have two parents who have successful careers while raising children there can be a lot stress. But the best example they can give is how the mom and dad love each other. For those of feminist philosophy, Claire Huxtable had it all.
2. Marge Simpson ("The Simpsons")
Homer Simpson would never make a list of best fathers because he is a terrible father. But Marge is a good mother. Or at least no one tries harder at being a good mother than Marge. In her you see the embodiment of all the stresses that motherhood has to offer: unhelpful husband, problem children, social pressures from the community to be perfect, etc. And she sometimes lets those pressures get to her. But she never lets them keep her down for long. The main unsung hero of the series is Marge. Without her, none of the Simpson family would be redeemable. She is the "angel in the house," even if she sometimes is a little bit of a fallen angel.
1. Martha Kent ("Smallville")
The best TV mom I have ever seen is Martha Kent on Smallville. The whole point of the series was about how the values Clark received from his parents are what truly made him a hero. She left a successful business career to help her husband run a struggling farm. She wasn't attracted to Jonathan's success, but his inherent goodness. Martha was a fantastic example of an adoptive mother who constantly welcomed and embraced Clark with all of his differences and longings to find his physical heritage. She was not afraid of her son or his power but always stood her ground when she believed he was going wrong. And after her husband died she didn't let that grief diminish her attention to Clark. When he became independent she became a strong leader in politics, bringing all of her experience to public service in the same way that Clark used all his power to serve the people. Martha Kent is the best TV mom of all time.