As kids, TV provided some of the first glimpses of the different kinds of moms out there. Some were pictures of idealized perfection and some were more realistic. Who doesn’t love to peek into other families and see what connection we might have with the matriarch? Do they resonate with us? Many do. Here are the most real and relatable TV moms of all time.
More: Which TV Mom Are You?
Frankie Heck from The Middle is incredibly real for those of us juggling a bunch of kids, a house, and a job. Plus, Frankie really, truly gets what it’s like to have a quirky kid and/or special needs child. Brick’s social skills group, his insistence on using a pizza delivery bag instead of a backpack, and his huge library microfiche machine in the middle of the living room speaks to many of us. How Frankie navigates all of this resonates as does her messy house and her attempts to keep a million plates spinning at once, while everyone’s needs are being met (sort of!). All of us can see a bit of her in us. Above all, she’s willing to admit that she isn’t perfect which is why we love her even more.
Rainbow Johnson of Black-ish is a successful anesthesiologist with five kids and her divorced, very vocal, in-laws live with her. Bow transcends race and position in life with her transparent nature and honesty. She addresses what many moms feel and grapple with whether it’s taking maternity leave, the struggle of whether she’s present enough with her kids, ultimately coming to terms with being OK with who she is. The struggle of career and family is what makes many of us understand her challenges and on top of it she’s got her in-laws at every turn which adds complexity to her already complex life. As one mom said, “I’m more of a Bow Johnson. In the literal sense her character is also biracial and so her balance between her racial identity and parenting hits my heart in a big way.”
Claire Dunphy of Modern Family is another real and relatable mom if not for her need to balance control and perfectionism with the realities of family life. Can’t we all relate to Claire on some level? Having to bite our lips as we watch yet another disaster about to happen? With three kids, all with varying needs, and a husband who is incredibly endearing but often in need of guidance, Claire takes every crazy circumstance and makes the best of it like so many moms do. Her sarcasm alone makes us know we’re not the only ones! And her eclectic extended family including a mother-in-law who is basically her age just adds to the nutty. We can all identify with her clan who puts the fun in dysfunction!
Olivia “Livvy” Walton
Olivia “Livvy” Walton, mom of seven on the hit series The Waltons resonated with many of us for her strength in the face of challenge, yet able to keep some semblance of herself while being a mom. With that many kids and living during the Depression era of scarcity, the pressure on Olivia was huge as she kept the family centered, something many of us do ourselves. She was tough as nails but tender and knew exactly what each of her kids needed despite their wildly different personalities and struggles. Many of us can relate to the pressures of putting family first yet longing to keep something of ourselves in the process like Livvy did. She was also a woman of faith married to a man who wanted nothing to do with it, a struggle many can related to or apply to other familial circumstances. We watched her grapple with health issues and a miscarriage but was always able to participate in the now famous goodnights then lights out at the end of the show.
Lorelai Gilmore of Gilmore Girls had parents who had carefully planned her whole grand life when she unexpectedly became pregnant and gave birth at age 16 to her daughter Rory. This naturally caused a stir in the family especially since her parents were wealthy and wanted her to go to the best schools and then marry well. Many can relate to Lorelai whether we’re the child of a single mom or are one ourselves and we recognize the pressures of hard to please parents and family. Lorelai stood firm in her convictions to raise her daughter her way on her terms yet there was a constant push and pull between Lorelai and her mom’s seemingly constant disapproval. We love Lorelai’s realness when she says things like, “This is it. She can finally go to Harvard like she’s always wanted and get the education that I never got and get to do all the things that I never got to do and then I can resent her for it and we can finally have a normal mother-daughter relationship.” Oh, how we love and identify with sarcastic moms.
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