Funny Stuff

Celebration of stereotypical, one-dimensional sitcom moms

What would a beloved sitcom be without moms? They keep the whole house together, put up with their husbands’ wacky antics, are constantly the butt of everyone's jokes, and are somehow never the star of the show!
Image from Modern Family (ABC)

What would a beloved sitcom be without moms? They keep the whole house together, put up with their husbands' wacky antics, are constantly the butt of everyone's jokes, and are somehow never the star of the show! In honour of Mother's Day, here are some classic TV mom types.

1. The tired mom with three kids and an idiot husband

Examples: Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson) of Home Improvement; Debra Barone (Patricia Heaton) of Everybody Loves Raymond.

A common mom type of the '90s, these women hold down the whole house with no help from their husbands, who are actively trying to destroy their family's lives.

Sometimes it's Jill having to placate her neighbours as her husband, Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, blows up the garage again. Or it's Debra's in-laws belittling her cooking as Ray Romano stands by and whines "Whaaaaaa" as he eats another sandwich. You can always count on these moms holding a basket of laundry in their arms and being the only adult in the house aware of their children's issues BEFORE receiving a call from the principal or the police.

2. The old, rich, narcissist mom

Examples: Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) of Arrested Development; Barbara Reynolds (Anne Archer) of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Whether this mom is abandoning her children or belittling them, old, rich narcissist mom always remains oblivious to the emotional needs of the people around her because she's constantly on the hunt for more cash. Plotlines generally revolve around her inability to cope in the world when she is not surrounded by extreme luxury, or her grown children offering up the ever-popular refrain, "This is why we are so fucked up!"

3. The hot and unlikeable mom

Examples: Gloria Pritchett (Sofia Vergara) of Modern Family; Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) of Walking Dead.

Not only are we supposed to believe that ridiculously gorgeous and talented Sofia Vergara and Ed O'Neill (Al Bundy plus thirty years of hard living) would ever end up together (plot twist: she's obviously a gold digger!), every joke on this show revolves around her having an accent or being too loud, dramatic, or annoying. And then we have Lori Grimes of Walking Dead. It's easy to see where the casting directors were going with this one. "Well, she looks great in a dirty tank top. And we can definitely script it so that no one likes her. Ever. Let's do it!"

4. The 1950s housewife mom

Examples: June Cleaver (Janine Turner) of Leave it to Beaver; Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) of The Brady Bunch.

This classic sitcom mom spends most of her days grooming and gently threatening her children to "Wait until your father gets home!" Even though these women live in completely oppressive households, we rarely see them express any feelings or emotional depth. This mom can only express her opinion in the privacy of her bedroom as her husband lies there reading at the end of a long day. Or, she must be speaking privately with her boisterous, mischievous son. She must never speak out of turn in front of her husband and son simultaneously or their suburban house will spontaneously combust.

5. The "let's just make the mom dead" mom

Examples: Full House, The Nanny, Arrested Development, Party of Five, Diff'rent Strokes.

The takeaway here is that a female character is more interesting when she's dead than written into a show in a meaningful way. Why bother developing her character when you can simply kill her off before the show begins and use her as an emotional chess piece? How else would we feel sorry for Danny Tanner as he braves yet another creepy heart-to-heart talks on the edge of his daughter's bed if he didn't mention that he wishes "[their] mom could be here" to deal with this shit? When in doubt, cue up the sentimental music and remind the kids that they may not have a mom but it's okay because Uncle Joey does funny voices and Uncle Jesse rides a motorcycle. Problem solved!