These days, moms on the small screen are more likely to put their own needs first and — unlike earlier generations of TV moms — they don’t always seem to know what they’re doing.
Donna Reed and June Cleaver were among the first of a long line of on-screen matriarchs who seemed too good to be true. In the 80s, Clair Huxtable and Elyse Keaton were working moms who look perfectly coiffed and always seemed to have time to talk to their kids (and, of course, they always knew just the right thing to say) on “The Cosby Show” and “Family Ties,” respectively. And, weren’t Carol Brady and Shirley Partridge the grooviest moms of the 70s on “The Brady Bunch” and “The Partridge Family?”
The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote about the trend towards “anti-moms” on TV, including shows like “Parenthood,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers and Sisters,” and “The Middle.”
On these shows, the moms compete for attention with their kids, flirt with their kid’s teacher, drink too much, manipulate their children, and forget to make dinner. The list of their parenting flaws is endless. Then, of course, there’s the pot-dealing mom on “Weeds,” who puts her family in perpetual danger. Compared to “Weeds'” Nancy Botwin, we’re all Mother of the Year.
To what can we credit this trend towards more realistic moms on TV?
“These portrayals do reflect the changing reality of motherhood,” says Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University, who also attributes the trend to more female writers and producers who are “willing to tell a more honest story of what motherhood is like.”
Of course, the truth is that being perfect is boring. These shows explore the complicated issues that mothers face today and the reality that not moms aren’t perfect. Audiences respond to these realistic portraits — I know I do.
Can you relate to the moms you see on TV? Who is your favorite TV mom?