Happy Mother’s Day, 3.5 readers.
Why are you reading this sad little blog for? Why aren’t you out there, honoring the woman who squeezed you out of her cooter with a nice Mother’s Day brunch?
Sheesh. I have to tell you people how to do everything.
Anyway, in honor of this fine day, I present to you, from BQB HQ in Fabulous East Randomtown, the Top Ten TV Mothers of All Time:
#10 – June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley) – Leave it to Beaver
TV scholars may be able to tell me if there was a more prominent TV mother before June, but I do believe June was one of the first and so, she essentially started it all. Ward always got his paper after work. Beaver and Wally always got dinner. June made it all happen, even while putting up with tomfoolery from Wally’s friend, Eddie Haskell.
#9 – Ruth Martin (June Lockhart) – Lassie
Mothers are often caused a great deal of heartache by their children, and I don’t think there was another mother that was cause as much anguish as Ruth was caused by that little dumbass Timmy.
Most 1950s kids were able to play outside without getting into too much trouble, whereas Timmy couldn’t walk five feet without falling down a well, falling off a cliff, getting attacked by some woodland creature, getting kidnapped by bandits or what have you.
Luckily, Ruth was always able to depend on trusty family collie dog Lassie to save the day and frankly, Timmy should have gotten Lassie a mother’s day card as she was like his furry assistant mother.
But seriously. It must have sucked for Ruth. The woman wasn’t able to put her feet up for five minutes without Lassie coming into the room to woof some troubling news about her soon to her.
LASSIE: Woof, woof!
RUTH: Lassie, what is it girl?
RUTH: Timmy fell down a well?
LASSIE: Woof, woof!
RUTH: And was kidnapped by bandits?
RUTH: And he was attacked by a mountain lion?
RUTH: Holy shitballs. You know what? Fuck this. I’m just going to chain Timmy up in the front yard from now on and give you his room, Lassie.
#8 – Claire Huxtable – Phylicia Rashad – The Cosby Show
OK, 3.5 readers. Let’s just address the elephant in the room.
Did Bill Cosby apparently, allegedly, whatever legal modifier you want to add here, did he apparently drug a bunch of women for the purposes of doing the freaky deaky with them without their consent?
:::shakes my magic 8 ball::: “All signs point to yes.”
But you know who didn’t do any of that? Phylicia Rashad. On a groundbreaking, hilariously funny, ahead of its time TV show that little 1980s kids like me watched every Sunday, Clair Huxtable was the working mom who had it all. Somehow, she balanced her schedule well, allowing her to try big important New York cases by day and still raise her band of adorable cherubs by night.
Plus, she took no guff from Cliff. There was a clear, deep, meaningful love between Clair and Cliff and they portrayed the struggles that many parents were able to relate to – i.e., balancing the love they had for their children while holding back the temptation to slap them silly whenever they did something stupid and oh lord, how the Cosby children did many stupid things.
Theo always wanted to drop out of school. Rudy was always picking on Bud. Vanessa was always narcing on everyone. Denise was boy crazy. Sondra took her parents’ money to go to law school, then quit lawyering to open up a camping store with her dopey husband Alvin.
Such is the life of a parent. Your kids disappoint you constantly, but you must love them anyway. Clair gave swift verbal kicks to the behind to her children and husband early and often, never mean but always with firm, fairness and love.
Drop that hoagie, Cliff. Too much salt.
#7 – Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner) – The Simpsons
Poor Marge. She was so studious in the 1960s, as well as the 1990s as the show has rebooted the “How Marge and Homer Fell in Love Story” at least a couple of times now.
She wanted to do great things with her life but alas, one romp between the sheets with dumbass Homer left her raising a spikey haired demon boy and donut chomping moron for the rest of her life.
Even worse, she’s been waiting forever for a reprieve to come her way in the form of her kids growing up and moving out of the house but surprisingly, Maggie has been a baby, Bart has been 10 and Lisa 8 for almost 30 years now!
Marge, you may want to take your kids to see Dr. Hibbert. They may have stunted growth from second hand donut crumbs.
Bonus points to Marge for being able to maintain such a tall, stylish blue beehive while having to deal with so much mischief.
#6 – Peggy Bundy – (Katey Sagal) – Married with Children
Don’t get me wrong, 3.5 readers. The women’s rights movement, was overall, a great thing that improved the lives of many a woman.
But…there was a loophole, one that by the time the 1980s rolled around, some (note that I said ‘some’ and not ‘a lot of’) savvy women like Peggy Bundy were exploiting the ever loving crap of.
Women had choices. If they wanted to, they could still choose to stay at home and raise a family and take care of the house. Or, if they wanted to, they could go out into the world, trailblaze their way into a career, and become empowered as they bring home the bacon.
Peggy Bundy did neither. She split the difference by staying home and doing nothing…literally, absolutely, positively…nothing.
The days when it was considered appropriate to complain to your stay at home wife that the house was a mess and there was no dinner on the table were gone.
Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) found himself at a new stage in human history, namely, the one where the husband is just expected by everyone to suffer while his loophole exploiting wife (and again, I’m not saying every or even many women do this) doesn’t bring any money into the household so he has to work more but also doesn’t lift a finger to help out, so he still has to wash his own clothes, do his own dishes, cook his own food, etc.
Men unfortunate enough to find themselves with a wife like Peggy are expected to suffer in silence. Can’t complain that she’s not making money because it’s her choice. Can’t complain that she didn’t clean up the house because damn it, don’t you know women are more than homemakers now?
Al, of course, was never one to suffer in silence. While Peggy sat at home and watched TV and ate bon bons all day in the same red beehive hairdo and leopard print outfit, he’d slave away all day at the shoe store, taking all manner of abuse from overweight women who hated his guts because he wasn’t able to help them find a shoe to their liking.
Al would complain vociferously that Peg would never cook or clean or do anything for him but the days of the 1950s where people gave a shit about the plight of the starving, dirty shirt wearing man were over.
Yes, there are plenty of women who choose to stay at home and they do a bang up job of making sure their husbands and kids always have something to eat and clean clothes to wear.
Yes, there are plenty of women who go to work and bring up fat stacks of cash so their families can buy all the stuff they want.
Yes, there are even plenty of women who go to work, make those fat stacks of cash, and still go that extra mile to keep the household running like clockwork.
But, there’s also a slim minority of women who manage to game the system. Women like the Pegster, who just get their money by stealing their husband’s wallets (Al always had to hand onto his for dear life) and then allow their homes to fester into stinking piles of crap while they watch television, grow their beehives out and complain about their husbands, i.e. the only people who are doing anything to help anyone in the family.
You almost have to applaud Peggy for being smart enough to figure out how to game the system.
#5 – Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) – Roseanne
Yes, the 1980s brought us shows that broke the “perfect family” convention. Married with Children was one such show and Roseanne was another.
Roseanne Connor definitely took the June Cleaver mold and broke it, then threw the pieces into the trash can.
Like many families, hers was dirt poor. Husband Dan (John Goodman) was always out of work or underemployed. He tried his best but work was hard to come by and didn’t pay much when he found it. She supplemented the family’s income by waitressing, working at a factory run by a young George Clooney with black hair and doing all sorts of minimum wage slave jobs.
She did not do it with a smile on her face and she did not suffer fools lightly. Whether at work or at home, she took no crap from anyone. On a regular basis, she told bosses, kids, husband and wacky sister Jackie where to stick their problems – right up their butts, because she was too busy and exhausted to baby them.
Sure, she always found time to bail everyone out of a jam but those who crossed her met with her wrath.
It was a show people could relate to. People were poor. They had jobs and home life responsibilities. They were tired. No one had the time anymore to gussy themselves up like June Cleaver. Mom didn’t just have to work to be empowered. She had to work just to keep the family from going under. No one had time to June Cleaver anything.
#4 – Elyse Keaton (Meredith Baxter Birney) – Family Ties
Ahh, the 1980s. The Reagan Era. The time when the stock market was booming, businesses were exploding with profits and there was a new renaissance of commercial expansionism. Simply put, the country was raking in dough hand over fist. Yuppies (young urban professionals) were everywhere and the country lived by Gordon Gecko’s Wall Street mantra, “Greed is good.”
It was a tough time for ex-1960s flower children like Steven (Michael Gross) and Elyse Keaton. They were parents now, so they had to put away their tie dye shirts and protest signs and actually get jobs to make money for their families, i.e. they had to “work for the man,” something they swore they’d never do at Woodstock.
Even worse, they had to watch their kids, Alex (Michael J. Fox) and Mallory (Justine Batemen) become capitalist, commercialist little shits.
While Steven and Elyse had spent their youths fighting the power and standing up to the man, their kids had become total squares. Alex was a money obsessed Reaganite who was counting down the days until he could leave and run off to Wall Street. Meanwhile, while Mallory wasn’t smart enough to care about Wall Street, she was a greedy consumer, a mall, boy, shopping obsessed teenage girl who could care less about the latest cause because she was too busy finding the best outfit.
Yup. That was the 1980s, where the kids had become lamer than their parents.
Somehow, Elyse kept the family going. She was an architect who designed buildings by day and took care of her family by night. You can take the girl out of Woodstock but you can’t take the Woodstock out of the girl.
#3 – Kitty Forman (Debra Jo Rupp) – That ’70s Show
Poor Kitty. It was the 1970s and she had to deal with perpetually angry husband Red (Kurtwood Smith) always threatening to put his foot up the ass of their wayward son, Eric (Topher Grace). On top of that, she worked as a nurse where patients she’d gotten attached to would die all the time. Did I mention that daughter Laurie (Lisa Robin Kelly) was a big time ho bag with a penchant for allowing herself to be used by unscrupulous older men?
Oh, and there was always, literally always a plethora of kids in her basement aka Eric’s friends whose parents weren’t up to snuff so she had to mother all of them as well.
Yet somehow, Kitty put up with all of this with a smile on her face…literally a big, bright beaming smile and a nervous laugh whenever things got out of hand. She was a “smile when your heart is aching” kind of gal but once in a blue moon she would lose her cool and explode all over whoever was causing trouble, often to hilarious results.
#2 – Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) – The Brady Bunch
Carol Brady. She was the mom of the type of family that “the Man” didn’t want to admit existed – mixed, blended families where Moms and Dads got together and brought their children from previous marriages with them.
Society didn’t approve. Apparently, women who were divorced or widower men who had lost their wives were just supposed to sit around and be depressed all day and never find love again. But Mike and Carol defied convention and made TV history in the process when they got together and formed the Brady Bunch.
Carol ran the family like a boss. Hell, she even subcontracted her motherly duties to housekeeper Alice because those were the days when it was considered socially acceptable to hire a random old lady to clean your house and parent your kids for you, pay her a salary that was the rough equivalent of the leftover pocket change in your couch cushions so you could spend your time on more important things like finding stylish 1960s lady pantsuits with bell bottom cuffs.
Yup. Carol was the woman that every 1960s kid wanted as their mother, even though she got Alice to do all the mothering for her. Ain’t no one got time for that shit.
#1 – Shaft (Richard Roundtree) – Shaft
Oh, what? A man can’t be a mother? You simple minded bumpkins need to shape up and get woke.
No, Shaft didn’t have time to raise any damn kids. He was too busy solving mysteries, fighting crime, and getting down with fine ass 1970s babes.
Still, the theme song speaks for itself:
Shaft Theme Song (Sung by Isaac Hayes)
Who’s the black private dick
That’s a sex machine to all the chicks?
You’re damn right!
Who’s the man that would risk his neck for his brother, man?
Can ya dig it?
Who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about?
You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother
Shut your mouth!
But I’m talkin’ about Shaft.
Then we can dig it.
He’s a complicated man but no one understands him but his woman
CHORUS: John Shaft.
Yup. Shaft might have been all man, but you can’t argue with a good theme song. He was the baddest mother around.
Did I miss your favorite TV mother, 3.5 readers? You can leave your own tribute to her in the comments.