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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

TV moms

May 4, 2005

Television mothers are a breed all to themselves. Some inspire. (Marion Cunningham) Some conspire. (Samantha Stephens) And some just perspire. (Marge Simpson)

With Mother’s Day a few days away, I thought it only fitting to take a look at some of television’s most unique and hard-working mothers. TV moms usually can be grouped into one of two categories: painfully perfect or woefully inadequate. Regardless of how you categorize these lovely ladies, they are all entertaining.

Most comforting mom – Marion Cunningham, Happy Days. She made a mean pot roast, kept an immaculate house, and even darned socks. And she did it all in a dress, heels, and a perfectly styled up-do. Whether talking the birds and bees with Richard and Joanie or doling out advice to The Fonz, Mrs. C. was the show’s heart. There’s just something reassuring about a mom who cooks, cleans, and counsels with a twinkle in her eye and every hair in place. Her sense of humor and, sometimes, silly mistakes gave Mrs. C the edge in this category over fellow classic mother June Cleaver. Without Marion, Happy Days would have been just mediocre days.

Most patient mom – Marge Simpson, The Simpsons. Bart Simpson alone would test the patience of a saint. Add in the fact that Lisa’s constantly honking on that saxophone and Maggie can’t seem to get rid of that pacifier, and Marge could be a candidate for the most in need of a vacation. How this hard worker gets through the day without downing a mouth full of Zoloft is beyond me. Her patience is endless, considering her kids never seem to get any older.

Most incapable of cutting the apron strings – Ellie Ewing, Dallas. Known as Miss Ellie to all those near and dear, this mom was no pushover. Except when it came to telling her grown sons it was time to leave the nest. Granted, the nest was a sprawling mansion on a beautiful ranch, but still. Having sons J.R. and Bobby Ewing and their wives and children all under one roof was asking a bit much. This dysfunctional group could have used a session with Dr. Phil.

Coolest mom – Samantha Stephens, Bewitched. Sorry, but she’s a witch who can make things happen with just a twitch of her cute, upturned nose. That alone makes her the hands-down winner for this category. Watching Samantha handle her husband and juggle the daily chores of domesticity was fun. It gave a whole new meaning to the term “the magic of motherhood.”

Most envied mom – Carol Brady, The Brady Bunch. She had a live-in maid, a gorgeous husband, a cool house with a grand staircase, and six perfect children. What’s not to envy? She always seemed to know the right thing to say and the right amount of punishment to dish out if the kids stepped out of line. Perhaps her most enviable trait was that her kids actually listened.

Least savvy mom – Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not many mothers would allow their teenaged daughter to roam around cemeteries in the dead of night fighting and killing vampires. And I don’t know one who would be cool with that daughter dating a 200-year-old vampire. It’s safe to say that Joyce had questionable mothering skills. In her defense, she was clueless for most of the time, assuming Buffy was doing homework instead of staking the undead.

On a personal note, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my mom a Happy Mother’s Day. In preparing my comments for this column, I accidentally discovered that the word “mom,” when written upside down, looks like “wow.” Which is funny, really, because that's exactly what she said that year in grade school when I made her a pencil holder out of felt and a rusty soup can.

Mom, thanks for all you’ve done and for not getting too mad the year I broke the chandelier with my baton.

Originally published 5/4/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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