Blog·Q

Who is the best TV mom of all time?

q staff members pick their favourite TV moms.
Clockwise from top left: Friday Night Lights' Tami Taylor, The Sopranos' Carmela Soprano, Community's Shirley Bennett, Bob's Burgers' Linda Belcher. (NBC, HBO, NBC, FOX)

The only parents we spend more time with than our own are arguably the ones we watch on television. To celebrate Mother's Day this year, q staff members decided to take a look at their favourite onscreen moms, from cartoon characters to the matriarch of a mobster family. Below are their picks for the best TV moms of all time. Who's your favourite? 


Tami Taylor (Friday Night Lights) 

I've used the GIF of Tami Taylor sashaying in her house so many times, it's permanently saved to my desktop. The Texas mom with the best hair in the state was just a side part in the 2004 movie, but Connie Britton — who played both the film and TV versions of Tami — wanted more from the Peter Berg-produced series. And she got it. As the woman married to Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler), mother to both Julie (Aimee Teegarden) and, later, baby Gracie Bell (possibly played by an alien infant, TBD), Tami put up with everyone's crap — Coach Taylor moving all over hell's half acre; Julie being dumb 95 per cent of the time; every high school football player's personal breakdown — and made it all feel like she was living life, not serving it.

Tami's career was even a pivotal plot point in the final season, which still seems groundbreaking six years after the show's finale. The Taylor marriage is never quaint or neatly tied up; it's messy and full of love and far from perfect. As a guidance counsellor — at the high school and pretty much every other hour of her existence — Tami drops inspirational quotes like "You belong anywhere you want" and then turns around and says, "It's part of my job to make sure that you don't grow up stupid." Stitch that on a pillow. — Holly Gordon

Mom Tiger (Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood)

You know Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood is set in the land of make-believe because no one could always be as calm as Mom Tiger. She has infinite patience for Daniel and baby Margaret and magically has a catchy song for every situation. I've busted out "You Gotta Try New Things 'Cause They Might Taste Good!" many times at the dinner table, trying my best to channel Mom Tiger (voiced by Canadian jazz singer Heather Bambrick). This Mother's Day, I hope she gets lots of her favourite banana bread and more clothes to expand her paltry capsule wardrobe, she deserves more than a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of blue pants! — Jean Kim

Linda Belcher (Bob's Burgers)

No one is more joyful and optimistic than Linda Belcher. There is rarely an episode of Bob's Burgers where Linda isn't breaking out in song or dancing around, and who wouldn't want to be around such a beaming ray of a sunshine! When her husband Bob is being too much of a curmudgeon, or when her kids are causing chaos at home or at school, you can always count on Linda to burst into the scene, throw her hands up in the air and shout, "Alright!" — Melody Lau

Marge Simpson (The Simpsons)

I'm not sure she requires any justification — as an amalgam of all of the greatest TV moms in history, she is the embodiment of motherhood, the only thing that keeps 742 Evergreen Terrace from descending into chaos. That, and a lovely head of hair and swinging set of pearls. — Steve Johnston

Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)

Yes, she may care about cocktails more than her children, but at least she's honest about it. And yes, she may have turned one of her children into too much of a "Motherboy," but what she lacks in actual child-rearing skills, she makes up for in cackling, and great lines like this one: "I wanna cry so bad.... but I don't think I can spare the moisture." Plus, the woman always has a martini in hand — and what mom wouldn't want that? — Elaine Chau

Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos)

The Sopranos ushered in the age of the TV anti-hero, but it also gave us one of TV's most complex, flawed, and conflicted mothers. On the surface, Carmela is the light to Tony's darkness, but Carmela is complicit in the crimes that keep her family in the big house on the hill, and she knows it. Through it all, she's funny, sharp and human — even when she's trying to seduce a priest. — Chris Trowbridge

Samantha Stevens (Bewitched) 

She's a freaking witch. What more do I need to say? She made dinner and cleaned the house by twitching her nose. She had great clothes and hair. Also, the ability to travel through time and space on a broom. On an average day, she could tame a nosy neighbour, fend off a meddling mother and calm her tightly-wound, possibly closeted husband and his cranky boss. If someone had to be turned into a donkey in the process, so be it. She may have been a suburban housewife, but she was slyly subversive and defied convention by marrying a mortal for love. Bonus points for having Paul Lynde as an uncle. — Dawna Dingwall

Shirley Bennett (Community)

Don't be fooled by her homemade brownies and constant purse-clutching. Shirley Bennett reminds us how limiting TV portrayals of motherhood can be. She's a God-fearing Christian mother who plays a mean game of foosball; a nurturer prone to angry outbursts and gossip; and an adult still learning new things about herself. Never mind that you rarely see her family on the show. Shirley Bennett exists to poke fun at the one-dimensional pop culture mom. — Vanessa Greco

Mona Robinson (Who's the Boss?)

I've always had a thing for sassy grandmas on TV, and Mona Robinson was the sassiest of them all. I know this is supposed to be about TV moms and not TV grandmas, per se, but Mona was, by definition, both. And, while it's weird to admit, she was also my first TV crush. All my friends liked Alyssa Milano's Samantha but there was something about Mona that drew me in. She was completely unpredictable, quick-witted, and didn't care what anyone thought, and I still love that about her. Of all the adults on the show, she seemed to be the only one having any fun. Who's the boss? Forget Tony or Angela because we all know it was Mona. — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Clair Huxtable (The Cosby Show) 

As the mother of Rudi, Theo, Sandra, Denise and Vanessa, Clair Huxtable's tough yet humorous love for her five children was one of the focal points of this successful '80s sitcom. Aside from her role as a mother, Huxtable (played by Phylicia Rashad) was a successful attorney who was definitely not a second fiddle to her husband in the family hierarchy. By balancing work and family and being a successful African American woman, Huxtable was a positive role model for black women everywhere at a time when a dearth of diversity on television rendered characters like her a curious anomaly. Given the ongoing relevance of the issue today, the significance of Huxtable's character in the '80s cannot be overlooked. — Del Cowie


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