Hold a picture of June Cleaver next to one featuring the moms of Wisteria Lane and it’s pretty obvious that the way mothers are portrayed on television has changed over the years.
If for no other reason, the change has occurred to keep up with the ever-evolving role of women in the world.
In the 1950s, women often didn’t work outside of the home, nor did they aspire to. Mrs. Cleaver was perfectly content to take care of Mr. Cleaver, Wally and the Beav — and she always looked good doing it, too.
Fast-forward to the 21st century with unwed teen mother Lorelai Gilmore (“Gilmore Girls”), who is more like a friend to her daughter Rory and Nancy Botwin (“Weeds”), who sells marijuana to make ends meet after the death of her husband.
Though the defining features of being a mother haven’t changed (have kids, raise them), the diversity of other features that mothers possess has vastly increased, and television reflects that trend.
“The Middle’s” Frankie Heck doesn’t always appear to have it all together, but between her job as a car salesperson and taking care of her family, she often pulls through tough situations — even if she looks a little worse for the wear.
And the always-in-charge Claire Dunphy of “Modern Family” gave up her job to assume a traditional stay-at-home mom role with her three children, but also acts as the family disciplinarian.
The tie that binds traditional moms like Mrs. Cleaver to modern moms like Nancy Botwin is that they all love their children and would do just about anything for them.
Remind you of a certain special woman in your life, too?
Although your mom undoubtedly wins the “Best Mother” award each year, there are several TV moms who have carved out a little place in each of our hearts.
In honor of Mother’s Day, here are my five favorite TV moms:
5. Kitty Forman “That 70’s Show”
Children: Laurie and Eric
While Kitty could pay a little more attention to what her son and his friends do in the basement, she has certainly become an iconic TV mom. When she’s not working her job as a nurse, she’s usually making food for Eric and his friends, though she is often found with a drink and cigarette in hand.
4. Lorelai Gilmore “Gilmore Girls”
Being a young mom, Lorelai is often more of a friend to Rory than a mother, but the relationship works well for these two. This is the ultimate way an undesirable situation (teen pregnancy) can turn into a positive. Lorelai and Rory seem to grow and learn together.
3. Clair Huxtable “The Cosby Show”
Children: Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, Rudy
Mrs. Huxtable had it all: a successful husband, a thriving career and a loving family. She was the ideal role model for mothers juggling the duties of a wife, a mother and a lawyer — and coming out balanced.
2. June Cleaver “Leave it to Beaver”
Children: Wally and the Beav
The quintessential mother and wife, June cooks, cleans and maintains an impeccable appearance. Though the completely selfless housewife may not be entirely realistic, it’s refreshing to see someone who takes pride in the simple pleasure of taking care of her family.
1. Lucille Bluth “Arrested Development”
Children: Michael, Lindsay, Gob, Buster
Lucille is perhaps the antithesis to June Cleaver. Lucille is materialistic and chronically ignores her three oldest children, while refusing to cut the cord on the fourth. If you want to know what it takes to raise a dysfunctional family, study her.
But Lucille’s also hilarious and willing to do whatever it takes to save her family (and their money) — as long as she also reaps some benefits.
Katie Holland, reporter, can be reached at 706-571-8515