Who doesn’t love to turn on the TV after a long day of work followed by bribing your kid to eat his veggies at dinner — and find a sitcom or drama to zone out to?
Me? That’s my bread and butter. Once my little guy is asleep, I live to sink into the couch and watch a stimulating drama or silly sitcom, not some BS reality show.
The moms in the TV shows I noted below have really struck a chord with me — whether they’re teaching me invaluable lessons, giving me endless laughs, or just plain letting me escape to a better/scarier/funnier/darker place — they’ve allowed me to step out of my busy single-mom life and go somewhere else, like a diner, the Mexican border, or a cozy sofa where problems are solved with hugs.
I love the way TV can transport us to somewhere far away — even for just a half-hour. Here, the moms that take me away …
1. Nancy Botwin in Weeds
Why I love her: Nancy (played by Mary-Louise Parker) is the epitome of a resourceful mother. After her breadwinner husband had a heart attack while out for a run, leaving her with two boys, major debt, and every emotional feat to handle, she didn’t apply for an office job or checkout clerk at the local organic food store. Instead, this savvy and sassy single mom started a drug empire. I love this because I can’t do this — would never do this — but wow is it a genius plan.
The weed-peddling mom always dressed to impress in boho-chic attire finds herself in constant sticky situations, but always seems to come out on the other side of the rainbow. Through Nancy, we learn about the lengths one mom will go to keep her family afloat while making huge, er, criminal mistakes. So yes, while we can’t obviously relate to her drug-dealing ways, there are major metaphors in the life of this struggling single mom.
Watch Weeds on Showtime Anytime and Netflix.
2. Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in Modern Family
Why I love her: Gloria (played by Sofia Vergara) is a one-time single mom from Columbia who finds love and happiness with well-off, much older Jay and his very non-nuclear family. Jay loves and treats Gloria’s son Manny like he’s his own flesh and blood, which is heartwarming to see and what every single mom strives for — a man who loves both her and her kid all in one pretty package.
Gloria’s broken English is laugh out loud funny, and her sassy boss-lady attitude is to be praised. Sexy and sweet, Gloria won us over from the pilot episode and continues to bring laughs and lessons into our homes weekly.
Watch Modern Family on ABC on Demand and Hulu.
3. Kristina Braverman in Parenthood
Why I love her: Through Kristina (played by Monica Potter), we see what it’s like to run a household, juggle a job, be a wife, and parent a coming-of-age teen daughter and a son, Max, who has autism. We learn about patience and understanding, as Kristina prepares Max’s eggs in a certain pan every day, celebrates his obsession with bugs, and creates a sticker system to help him thrive in the fast-paced world he’s living in.
Kristina never gives up on Max, working with him daily — sometimes breaking down in tears, but always putting on a brave face and wiping them away — she provides him with a therapist and even founds a school for children like him who need a place that simply gets their educational needs.
Watch Parenthood on Netflix.
4. Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City
Why I love her: Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon) got pregnant unexpectedly and kept the baby — even though she was no longer attached to his cutie-pie father, Steve. Through Miranda, we get to see a successful NYC lawyer navigate single motherhood, co-parenting, dating, and what “leaning in” really looks like. In the end, Miranda and Steve realize they love each other just as much as they love the son they created together. This family gets a happily ever after, complete with a garden wedding, cocktail reception, and big move to Brooklyn.
In the SATC movie, they run into some trouble when Steve cheats, but the couple just can’t seem to live without each other, meeting each other halfway on the Brooklyn Bridge and starting anew. We love Miranda because her life as a mom and wife is not rosy — it’s thorny — and that’s exactly how parenting and relationships really are.
Watch Sex and the City on Amazon Prime.
5. Carrie Mathison in Homeland
Why I love her: Carrie (played by Claire Danes) is a bit complicated, which is why she made the list. The super CIA agent does it all: kills terrorists, halts international attacks, manages her team in a fearless way that scares everyone, and — surprise! — becomes pregnant by is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-terrorist Nick Brody. For months, Carrie keeps her pregnancy under wraps, much like her bipolar disorder.
After Nick is killed in a public hanging in Iran, she considers giving her new baby girl, Frannie, up for adoption. After all, she doesn’t think her life as a high stakes CIA agent with bipolar disorder will make her mother of the year. Her family buys her some time, offering to take in baby Frannie while she sorts out life. This proves to be the best choice, because eventually Carrie gets her priorities together and takes over parenting Frannie.
Watch Homeland on Showtime Anytime.
6. Fiona Gallagher in Shameless
Why I love her: First off, Fiona (played by Emmy Rossum) isn’t a mom to those 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 dysfunctional kids — she’s simply the big sis who was dealt a seriously shitty hand of cards — but that doesn’t mean she’s not down to play the game. Through Fiona, we see that motherhood doesn’t exactly mean you carried and gave birth to a baby. Fiona does everything in her power to keep her siblings safe and sound — screwing up along the way, of course — but always redeeming herself with very little means. She proves all you need is love and sticking things out together, instead of waving the white flag.
Watch Shameless on Showtime Anytime.
7. Lorelai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls
Why I love her: Seriously, what is not to love? Lorelai (played by Lauren Graham) and Rory are the coolest and cutest mother-daughter duo in TV history. The coffee-obsessed, witty, fashionable Lorelai makes single motherhood look like a cake walk. And even when it isn’t (Rory does have her teenage moments, Lorelai isn’t exactly BFF with her parents, and there’s man drama times a million), these two instill a team spirit and love that can’t be shaken.
Watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix — and don’t miss the revival coming later this year.
8. Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch
Why I love her: Well, duh, given — this is a classic TV mama! Carol (played by Shelley Long) loses her husband and is left to raise three girls on her own. Mike loses his wife and is in the same predicament, but with three boys. We all know what comes next: “That’s the way they formed The Brady Bunch … The Brady Bunch.” Carol is a little too perfect and that’s why I love her — she’s an escape. She lets us take a break from chaos and zone into parenting heaven, where we watch her fix problems with hugs and sweetly-toned lectures. Plus, a SAHM with a quirky pie-making housekeeper named Alice is a fantasy we can all chew on.
Stream The Brady Bunch on Hulu.
And don’t miss this quiz to find out which pop culture family is your perfect match!