Mommie Dearest

US Mother’s Day was on May 8th, so we might be a day late with this post but, as any good mum will tell you, that’s better than never!

Miss Penn already discussed the worst television mothers for Mothering Sunday back in April, but this time we’d like to focus on the good ‘uns:

Abbey Bartlet (The West Wing)

Dr Bartlet was definitely the matriarch of The West Wing, with all the female characters in awe of, and inspired by, her.

Any mother character played by Stockard Channing (Rizzo in Grease) is obviously going to be a bad ass momma bear, and that was enhanced by Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue.

When people threatened the harmony of her family she got angry enough to withhold cider:

“Unnamed sources. C.J., unnamed sources make me crazy. Just one time, I’d like to see instead of “according to unnamed sources” I’d like to see according to “tweaky little ill-informed chicken-ass wannabes…” Don’t ever come to me again with unnamed sources, C.J. You don’t get any cider.”

Her no-nonsense attitude made her a very good mother to her three daughters, Elizabeth, Eleanor and Zoey, slightly tempered by her husband’s willingness to buy their affection with sugar.

Gloria Pritchett (Modern Family)

The fact that Gloria raised her son Manny- a caring, intuitive old soul of a kid- is a testament to her parenting skills, as is the fact that she’s the babysitter and guardian of choice for Cam and Mitchell’s daughter Lily. She’s a funny and sweet individual, and almost seems incapable of turning the maternal vibes off. As she’s now married to Jay, she ends up getting involved with the familial dramas of his two children- Claire and Mitchell- and their own kids and partners. Although the others might sometimes find her getting involved to be a bit invasive, her insistence that people talk, and hug, out their feelings generally helps the situation. At least until the next week, this is sitcom land we’re talking about after all.

Skyler White (Breaking Bad)

Skyler’s the rather put upon wife of Walter White, a chemistry teacher who became a secret meth producer when he began to worry about providing for his family’s future after being diagnosed with cancer. She’s fiercely protective of their family unit, and willing to put herself in humiliating situations in order to financially contribute herself. She’s also a very caring mother to their disabled son Walter Jr. (who prefers the moniker “Flynn”) and their baby daughter Holly. When she discovered Walt’s secret she initially felt betrayed and angry, but couldn’t quite bring herself to cut him out of her and the kids’ lives. She’s concocted a plan to become a money launderer extraordinaire, and has sort of accidentally on purpose kept the family together as part of it.

Darla (Angel)

This rampaging whore-cum-vamp wasn’t exactly overly maternal, although she did train Angelus in the art of killing which is maybe analogous to potty training? Things changed for her after she was brought back from the dead by Wolfram & Hart in an attempt to tempt Angel back to the dark side, and then re-vamped by Drusilla. Despite them both being (infertile) vampires, Angel and Darla accidentally conceived, and the soul of the human child she was carrying started to change Darla’s behaviour and personality. She sacrificed herself for the life of her son, and much later her spirit appeared to him, when he was following the orders of Jasmine-possessed Cordelia, to try to stop him from committing murder.

Karen van der Beek (Californication)

Karen’s relationship with her ex, Hank Moody, might be complicated and at times irritating, but her relationship with their daughter Becca is generally cheeringly pleasant. Although Karen’s clearly the sensible parent in contrast to Hank, it doesn’t make her boring. She might try to subsume her rock and roll side, but it surfaces on occasion, and her own experiences have tended to make her supportive of and understanding towards her teenage daughter. This attitude has extended towards Becca’s friends, and also to Karen’s almost step-daughter Mia.

Ashley Marin (Pretty Little Liars)

Ashley might be a workaholic and slightly intimidating mother, but it’s obvious that her actions are motivated by caring for her daughter, Hanna. She explicitly stated that she works to be able to buy Hanna the things she requires in order to be popular, and when Hanna was caught shoplifting her mother began sleeping with the policeman investigating in order to make the whole business disappear rather than cause a scandal. When they started sliding into debt, Ashley took matters into her own hands and stole from a client. Despite all this dramatic behaviour, she’s very careful to insist that Hanna stay out of it- she’s supposed to be enjoying her youth and not worrying about these problems. And since her daughter is definitely the most likeable and well-adjusted of the main characters, I’d say that Ashley Marin did a bang up job.

Carole Hudson (Glee)

Widowed when her son was young, Carole has been a single parent to Finn and raised him to be a genuine, caring Frankenteen. She’s also become a (step) mother to Kurt after marrying his father, Burt, and both of their vows were full of love and appreciation for their sons. She acknowledged that in Kurt she was also getting a friend and stylist, and was appropriately appreciative. Back when Quinn announced her pregnancy to her parents and was kicked out of her house, Carole was kind and welcoming to her, and allowed her to move in without compunction. And now that Kurt’s cured of her awful mom jeans, she’s well on the way to becoming the coolest mother of them all.

Beadie Russell (The Wire)

Despite her intelligence, Beadie put up with am unchallenging job as a port authority officer in order to support her children after her husband left. After a container full of dead bodies was found at the port she had to juggle the conflicting demands of being involved with a complicated homicide enquiry with being a good mother- but she managed to deal with it admirably. She also wasn’t willing to put her relationship with McNulty before her family, and maybe part of what attracted her to him in the first place was his ability to bond with her sons, having two of his own.

Lisa Cuddy (House)

Doctor Cuddy’s long-standing desperation to have a child of her own, and her disappointment when the biological mother of the first child she tried to adopt decided to keep her baby, is part of what makes her such a devoted mother to her daughter Rachel. Despite her initial concerns about her ability to bond with her daughter, and to provide an environment which would be considered adequate, Cuddy is definitely a great parent. She obviously cares deeply about Rachel and wants the best for her- whether in terms of preschool or paternal influences in her life. Cuddy’s kindness and maternal instincts have spilled out elsewhere, she’s generally been happy to mentor members of House’s team, not to mention the fact that she puts up with House himself.

Lily Humphrey (Gossip Girl)

Although Lily’s done some dubious things- committing her children to psychiatric hospitals, or falsely accusing her daughter’s teacher of rape- her ridiculous schemes do always seem to have had her children’s best interests at heart. And compared to the actions of a lot of other Upper East Side parents (and her own mother) her behaviour seems downright reasonable. Despite her actions sometimes appalling her offspring- Serena and Eric- and her step- and adopted children- Dan, Jenny and Chuck- they’ve managed to fix their relationships over time. While she atones for framing Serena’s former teacher under house arrest she’s got time to reflect on her past actions, and has even got a new protegé, in the shape of her minxy niece Charlie, staying with them.

Got a favourite mama character of your own? Comment away!

4 thoughts on “Mommie Dearest

  1. I wondered if you’d put Lily in! Totally pro-Lily, even though she does make silly mistakes…like lying to the police and sending innocent people to jail.

    Lorelai Gilmore?

    Can’t think of anymore cool Mums, but I want Sandy Cohen as a Dad! He wins coolest Dad award!

    • Team Lily all the way!

      I thought of a few more, but I think ten is a nice round number. Otherwise I could go crazy and create a list that goes on forever!

      Sandy Cohen is awesomesauce, we should definitely do a list of good (and/or bad) TV dads come Father’s Day.

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