In 1953, Lucy went to the hospital and, after delivering “Little Ricky,” became what most consider to be the first working mom on television. Within the last 60 years, the concept of “mom” on primetime TV has shifted and changed with every generation.
In a 2012 study conducted by the Geena Davis Institute (reason #2,865 why we love Geena: She has an Institute!), it was discovered that 44.3 percent of women in primetime TV had jobs. The number of women who had jobs or careers on television and also had children was not so great. Jennifer Newsom, the director of Miss Representation, a documentary about women in the media, was not surprised to discover “hardly any of the televised career women have kids, because people still feel weird about women not staying home to take care of their progeny.”
Get ready for a change!
The new shows of the 2014-2015 TV season have characters with very complex lives. One of the biggest and most exciting things is the number of moms with power jobs. Or should I say, women with power jobs who have kids? There is a single mom who is a detective, a bi-racial mom who is a physician, and an African American mom who is President of the United States.
This is impressive, this is a breakthrough, this is … intimidating! I have a feeling I am going to feel incredibly inadequate as a working mom once I start watching Tea Leoni as Secretary of State or Alfre Woodard as Madam President. And yet I can’t wait to see how parenting and having a career story-lines are woven into each other on these new shows.
However, I do have some trepidations. My fear is that great moments in mothering will be the MacGuffin. I worry our new and shiny protagonists will strive to be established in their careers and within the first few episodes we will watch them try to lock down the balance of great work/life balance. By episode four, will children still be a part of the plot? Will offspring become some sort of by-the-way element of a character’s back story? Remember how great the mom story lines were of Dr. Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy? Her mother arc has fizzled so much I screamed “childcare!!!” at my TV many times last season.
It’s great to see mom characters on TV as diverse as moms in real life when it comes to the types of jobs we have. I know many women who define themselves based on their careers and not their family. I also know many women who consider their identity as mother to be the most important thing about themselves. Can you have it both ways? Can you be seen by the world as a doctor who is a mom or must you be seen as a mom who is a doctor? Is there a difference? Do men even ask themselves these questions?
This season we will meet 5 new moms on TV. My expectations are high!
Debra Messing plays Detective Laura Diamond in The Mysteries of Laura. I cringed when I read this on the show’s website: “[Her] skill at cleaning up after her twin boys comes in handy when she’s cleaning up the streets of NYC.” I am a fan of Messing and I really hope this show finds a nice groove and balance, but the early previews feel clunky and off. The mom life and the detective life seem like two different shows and I am not sure that is what they are going for.
Series Premiere: September 24 | 8 PM/7 PMc
Image Credit: The Mysteries of Laura
I will show up to watch Alfre Woodard in anything. Seriously. Early previews of State of Affairs is very promo-heavy with Katherine Heigl who plays a CIA analyst who was once engaged to the President’s son. It does not seem we will see any moments of President Payton with her son (I’ll let you dig online to find out why), but her love for him will be a thread in the show.
Series Premiere: November 17 | 10 PM/9 PMc
Image Credit: State of Affairs
Marjorie is a bit of a mystery character to me on The McCarthys. Played by the always funny Laurie Metcalf, this Boston mom of four is what some might consider a “throwback” character. The twist is she is the number one champion of her out-of-the-closet son, and she is determined to keep him from leaving Boston.
Series Premiere: October 30 | 9:30 PM/8:30 PMc
Image Credit: The McCarthys
I am very (VERY) excited about Madam Secretary. The previews made me so giddy because there was a distinct West Wing tone and goodness knows I miss a good primetime political TV show. In one of the behind-the-scenes clips of the show, I appreciated a comment from one of the creators. They want this show to represent a side of politics that is not necessarily what would happen, but what could. I appreciate that they have established from the get-go that Tea Leoni’s character is someone we can root for.
Series Premiere: September 21 | 8:30 PM ET/8 PM PT
Image Credit: Madam Secretary
Tracee Ellis Ross seems like she is having a blast as biracial physician mom, Rainbow Johnson, on Black-ish. I really admire the dialogue about culture and community the show has started before it’s even premiered. The parenting story-lines were front and center in all of the previews I watched (and they were VERY FUNNY). From the show’s website, “No matter where you’re from, what you look like, or where you live, you’re living in a country where times have likely changed since you were a kid.”
Series Premiere: September 24 on ABC | 9:30 PM/8:30 PMc
Image Credit: Black-ish on FacebookMore On