Idol Chatter

margesimpsonpicforic.jpgSeveral years ago, I contributed a piece about the best small-screen mothers on American television to Beliefnet blogger Therese Borchard’s delightful book “I Love Being a Mom.” For the book, I tried to think of characters, who not only set the bar for television motherhood, but also TV moms who accurately reflected the times. So for this Mother’s Day, I thought I’d revisit my list of top ten TV moms and see if I had any additions or revisions to make. (For a full list of descriptions, please see Therese’s book.)
1. June Cleaver, Leave It to Beaver
The always gracious mother of Wally and the Beaver, June Cleaver is the quintessential television mother against whom all other television mothers are measured. Not to mention real-life mothers.

2. Marion Cunningham, Happy Days
She was mom to the entire neighborhood, acting as a surrogate to Richie’s gang of friends: Ralph, Potsie, Chachi, and The Fonz.
3. Carol Brady, The Brady Bunch
This “lovely lady” watched over every single member of her blended family— a pioneering situation for television at the time— like they were one of her own.
4. Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
She may just be a cartoon character, but as the long-suffering, moral compass of the Simpson clan, Marge is more dimensional than most of her reality counterparts.
5. Roseanne Connor, Roseanne
Not only was “Roseanne” ground-breaking for its depiction of working-class motherhood, but issues were rarely tied up by the end of a single episode, reflecting the complexity of real life.
6. Ann Romano, One Day at a Time
Realistically depicting the struggles of newly divorced women, Ann Romano fought not only to keep her two teen daughters on the straight and narrow and with her ex-husband for child support, but also fought off the advances of building superintendent Schneider.
7. Claire Huxtable, The Cosby Show
Claire Huxtable turned sitcom mom convention on its ear by being a professional woman who had equal say in parenting and was the more authoritarian of the two parents.
8. Shirley Partridge, The Partridge Family
She was the real-life stepmother to her television son in this show that proved that the family that plays together, stays together.
9. Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown
The character’s unexpected pregnancy and decision to raise the child on her own spurred Dan Quayle to declare outrage, but spurred professional women everywhere in similar situations to applaud.
10. Lois, Malcolm in the Middle
Lois perfectly embodies the typical overworked, underappreciated modern American mom who will be the first to criticize her children, but also the first defend them until the death.
Along with the above list, I had several honorable mentions, including Samantha Stevens from Bewitched, Donna Reed, Florida Evans from Good Times, Kate and Allie, and even Dana Sculley from the X-Files.
So, would I change my list today? Would I be heartless enough to knock one of these fine ladies off my list this Mother’s Day? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
As much as I love the “Partridge Family” and their psychedelic bus, I think I love Carmela Soprano slightly more for this list.
Even though her husband is a mob boss (and she’s an accessory), Carmela works to preserve the façade of family like Tony works over his enemies, an impossible situation many mothers find themselves in. Plus, the character perfectly epitomizes the evolution of the empty-nester mother, eventually looking for individual fulfillment through building her own spec house.
So, who would make your Top Ten TV Moms list this Mother’s Day and why?

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