It’s Mother’s Day, so what better way (aside from calling Mom) is there to celebrate than to look back on some of the mothers who loom the largest in our imaginations?
Harriette Winslow, Family Matters
Can we say infinite patience? Sure, Steve Urkel was a new level of TV wacky, but the entire Winslow clan had their fair share of problems and hijinks. Usually, Harriette cut through the noise with sage advice and real talk. Of course, sometimes she didn’t have to – all she had to do was say Carl’s name and he’d stop dead in his tracks.
Jill Taylor, Home Improvement
Was Jill Taylor stuck in one of those kind of annoying-dumb-husband-with-a-sensible-wife setups so endemic to sitcoms? Sure. But no one did it better. And in fairness, Tim Taylor brought a surprising amount of ingenuity to his silly ideas, which meant that Jill had to respond with saintly levels of calm resourcefulness. She cleaned up a bunch of his disasters – but still held him accountable.
Fran Fine, The Nanny
The Nanny barely had a will-they-won’t-they plot – you always knew Fran would end up marrying Sheffield. And sure, she was a nanny to his kids, but really, she was acting as their mother long before it became official. Plus, Fran Drescher gave an iconic performance. Some people can’t get past the voice, but watch her and tell us she isn’t channelling the physical comedy of Lucille Ball.
Peggy Bundy, Married with Children
Why shouldn’t TV moms dress like they’re about to hit the club, say whatever they want, and act like the one all the moms warned you about but secretly envied? Peggy Bundy was the funniest part of Married with Children and her take-no-prisoners attitude has been much copied in the years since.
Vivian Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Aunt Vivian managed to be the most regal presence on Fresh Prince, and she did it without being spoilt like Hilary, snooty like Geoffrey, or dorky like Carlton. In her time as the queen of Bel-Air, she defended Carlton from a bunch of crooked cops, brought the house down with her rendition of “Proud Mary,” and showed up a bunch of prima donnas at a dance audition. She even put a bunch of Will’s street-tough friends in their places. Or at least they were street toughs by the benign standards of Fresh Prince.
Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
Yes, her career has spanned decades. But many of Marge’s best moments came in the 90s. It’s when she nearly lost faith in Bart after he shoplifted in “Marge Be Not Proud,” and he gave her his picture for Christmas to fix their botched family portrait. In “Moaning Lisa” she taught her daughter that it’s okay to be sad. And when First Lady Barbara Bush attacked The Simpsons, Marge wrote her a respectful letter, mother to mother, defending her family and won an apology. How’s that for fiction coming to life?