Best TV Moms: Dono & Patty’s Top 10 Choices

In honor of Mother’s Day, I decided to rotate this post originally published a few years ago. Donovan and myself ranked our favorite all-time television moms. Let’s face it: at one point growing up, we’ve watched a few sitcoms and thought it’d be cool to have one of those TV moms as our own, especially when we were fighting with our real ones 😉


10. Sandy Hogan (Sandy Duncan) The Hogan Family (1986-1991)

Played by Sandy Duncan, she was the aunt that came in to effectively become the surrogate mom of the family after their mother, Valerie Harper, was killed off in the second season. She had a lot to deal with playing the role of the “mother” and it was a very interesting concept for that time, since it was not the conventional perfect family. Oh, do you remember that Jason Bateman was in this show? Here’s a link to the show’s intro to refresh your memory.


10. Elyse Keaton (Meredith Baxter) Family Ties (1982-1989)

There are three different reasons why Elyse Keaton made the list.

  • 1. She was an architect which I thought was the coolest job growing up.
  • 2. The theme song “Without Us” was brilliant.
  • 3. I totally wanted to be related to Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox).


9. Maggie Malone Seaver (Joanna Kerns) Growing Pains (1985-1992)

Played by Joanna Kerns, she was a journalist and mom that was able to juggle career and family- even her problem child Michael Seaver. It seems like this show was so long ago- which it was- but even longer because you don’t see re-runs on TV. Nevertheless, I liked her. Again, here’s the intro to refresh your memory.


9. Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones) The Addams Family (1964-1966)

We’ve all gone through a goth, emo, heavy metal or whatever you want to call it phase. I remember being fifteen and wanting to paint my room black. Obviously my parents denied my request, but I’m sure if Morticia was my mom, she would’ve loved my idea and probably rolled up her sleeves to help me out. Black is the new black, ya’ll.


8. Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) The Golden Girls (1985-1992)

Played by the late Estelle Getty, her character was born in the early 1900s in Sicily, often referring back to it: “Picture it, Sicily, 1945…” She lived with her daughter, and was never afraid to give her a hard time. I mean after all, her daughter was divorced, had grey hair, and was living with her mother and two other roommates. Sophia was very witty, but very loyal to her family. If she acted up, her daughter Dorothy would threaten to send her back to Shady Pines- the dreaded retirement home.


8. Maggie Malone Seaver (Joanna Kerns) Growing Pains (1985-1992)

She almost didn’t make the cut due to Kirk Cameron’s views on homosexuality. It’s not her fault he grew up to be such a fool. In the end, I put her on this list because she obviously has a huge heart. Other mothers would have never put up with Carol and all her issues, Mike and all his antics, and Ben for just being Ben.


7. Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)

Played by Felicity Huffman, Lynette’s a wonderful, dedicated mother & wife. She was once a career-women, but gave it up for her family- although sometimes torn at times to turn back. Her kids are brats and she finds herself doing a lot of juggling, as most mothers do. She also battled cancer on the show, and to see her come through it and be so brave for her family in the process was very inspirational I would imagine, for other mothers going through the same circumstances in real life.


7. Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) Roseanne (1988-1997)

At first watch, I couldn’t stand this show nor Roseanne Barr herself. But, through the magic of syndication and TBS, I grew to love Roseanne and her parenting methods. No matter how tough she was with her kids, you knew she loved them and would do anything to protect them. She does however lose some brownie points for not recognizing that her eldest daughter, Becky, was portrayed by two different actresses. I’m bugging. Seriously though, who wouldn’t want to have Roseanne as their mom especially after winning the lottery. A total jump the shark moment.


6. Vivian Banks (Janet Hubert-Whitten) Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996)

Played by Jane Hubert-Whitten, she was living the life in a beautiful home with a very happy family, and was very grounded all things considered. She was rarely angry, kept her cool, and always looked fabulous.


6. Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner) The Simpsons (1989-Present)

I’m yellow: she’s yellow. Enough said. D’oh!


5. Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson) Home Improvement (1991-1999)

Played by Patricia Richardson, Jill Taylor is the wife of “Tim the Tool Man” Taylor. She’s great with her kids, has a great sense of humour, and a lot of patience to be able to deal with a husband who constantly destroys things around the house in an attempt to renovate & boost things up with power. I remember the episode where Tim made her this elaborate shoe closet, conveyor belt and all. So sweet, but tacky.


5. Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) The Nanny (1993-1999)

So, technically, she didn’t give birth to the kids she took care of but this woman was fierce and cared for the kids like they were her own. She worked in a bridal shop in Flushing Queens ’til her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes 😉 If you recognized that bit, then you’re obviously a fan of this big-haired, nasally nanny. Just like most homos, she loved Barbra Streisand. Actually, the more I think about it, she was more like a drag queen rather than a nanny. Regardless, she’s one of my faves.


4. Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) Weeds (2005-2012)

Played by Mary-Louise Parker, Nancy Botwin is a sexy, widowed mother that does whatever it takes for her and her kids to survive. She doesn’t go about it the right way to start off with, but stuck on this adventure she embarks on, she does whatever it takes when it comes to her boys. Just when you think things are bad, they get worse. A must-watch show. She deserved her Emmy for this character.


4. Angela Bower (Judith Light) Who’s The Boss (1984-1992)

Before she was Claire Meade on Ugly Betty, Judith Light was the ultimate 80s single mother working hard for her money to support her son. We’ve heard Hilary Clinton say: “It takes a village,” but in this case all you need is a hot, Italian, ex-baseball player to raise your child. Not only did Angela have good taste in housekeepers, but you knew she’d be the type of mom who would stand proudly by her gay son. Let’s face it, we all knew Jonathan Bower would be batting for our team when he grew up.


3. Bree Van De Kamp-Hodge (Marcia Cross) Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)

Played by Marcia Cross, she’s the Martha Stewart of Wisteria Lane. She tries so hard to be perfect and wants nothing but the the best for her family and friends at whatever the cost. It’s interesting- I’m sure a lot of our moms put on a brave face for us growing up and may have broken down from time to time behind the scenes, just as Bree has. She is absolutely hilarious to watch, and my favourite character on the show.


3. Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad)- The Cosby Show (1984-1992).

Oh Claire Huxtable. Not the funniest mom on the list but there was something so elegantly captivating about her. At one point, I’m sure we all wanted to be a Cosby kid just to take part in those show intros they did every year. Just think if you were in this family you’d have unlimited Jell-o due to Bill Cosby’s endorsement. You’d be the most popular kid on the block courtesy of your “Jell-o shots”.


2. Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) Roseanne (1988-1997)

Played by Roseanne Barr, I liked the show and her character because their situation wasn’t so perfect. They didn’t have a lot of money, they didn’t always have the best manners or etiquette, but when it came to family and her kids, Roseanne did whatever she could for them. Although very humorous, she was also a very vulnerable character and a lot of very important and controversial issues were brought to light on this show.


2. Peggy Bundy (Katey Sagal) Married With Children (1987-1997)

Oh Al!!! Spandex and cheap hooker high heels never looked so good. Every time she did her signature walk, she cracked me up. Peggy was so trailer park trashy she even made Roseanne look classy. I loved this show and watch the DVDs whenever I want to get nostalgic.


1. Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) The Cosby Show (1984-1992)

Played by Phylicia Rashad, She tops my list. For one, it was one of my favorite shows growing up and I would actually watch it with my family. And, two – she was a strong, successful women with a great sense of humor and managed to keep everyone in line. I always LOVED their intros.


1. Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) The Brady Brunch (1969-1974)

This lovely lady was bringing up three very lovely girls long before single mothers were the norm. She was smart enough to talk her gay husband into hiring a housekeeper to do all the work. Didn’t you ever wonder what Carol did throughout the day? Alice cooked, cleaned, did laundry and even did the “meat man”. In all seriousness though, Carol Brady with her short blond hairstyle will be one of those iconic TV mothers that will stand the test of time.

To all the real and fictitious mothers out there, we wish you a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Who’s your favorite TV mom?

  • mikeb

    I love your #1 and 2 pics Donovan!

  • One other very important thing to note about Claire Huxtable was that she was hella sexy! On top of being a successful lawyer and mother of all those kids, some of the best scenes were the ones when she and Cliff would get each other all horned up and run upstairs. Girl had some BEDROOM EYES!

    Love her.

    Another TV mom I always loved was crazy Ruth from “Six Feet Under”. She was insane, repressed, and… well… insane, but she was such a great character.

    Oh, oh! And Nora (Sally Fields) from “Brothers & Sisters” is the UBER mom!

    I watch too much TV. ;(

  • I told you guys this last night, but apparently neither of you were cool enough to love Buffy. Joyce Summers, Buffy’s mom, was the best. The shit that woman had to deal with… a daughter being the chosen one who kept falling in and out of love with the undead, another daughter that was mystically created by some monks, fighting off demons, eating tainted chocolate that turned her back into her randy teenage self and then had sex with her daughter’s teacher/mentor/librarian… oh and then she died of a brain tumor. Now that is a mom,

  • I agree Jason. Ruth Fisher is one of my favourite characters of all time, nevermind favourite mother. Also, this doesn’t really count, but I always liked the mom from Calvin and Hobbes.

  • jason beat me to it, but nora aka sally fields is def an awesome mom. she represents to me the bad and good of a good mom….like the good as in …loves her kids a lot and is supportive of everything they do but the bad, which makes her real, she is too obsessed and has centered her lives around her children, which annoys them and makes her upset when they don’t pay enough attention to her–this seems to fit the description of many moms.

  • and i love that she’s so okay with her gay son, envious really. actually im envious more so of kevin, good career, hot husband (canadian luke macfarland), has even fathered a kid–everything the average gay wants.

  • Brett

    For me nothing beats Sally Field as Nora Walker on Brothers & Sisters – especially during the first season. There were times she reminded me so much of my own mother it was a bit scary.

  • Eeks. I only focused on sitcom moms. If I had included dramas, I would’ve included both Sally Field and Ruth Fisher to that list.

  • I love Claire Huxtible. She was always so witty and sharp and never let her husband or her kids get away with anything. She wasn’t ever harsh or harpy with them but used her playfulness, humour and sarcasm to get her point across. My vote is for Claire. Great list boys!

  • Trish

    This is cute! As are the stories/anecdotes posted today. I have to agree with Nora Walker. I’ve just started watching Bro’s & Ho’s and I love Nora.
    Also, kudos for the Judith Light/Angela Bower and Sophia/Estelle Getty mentions. Two of the best TV Moms ever!

  • yea the article is cute but saying bro’s and ho’s trish, not so much.

  • …mostly because “Bro’s and Ho’s” has misplaced apostrophes. THE GRAMMATICAL HORROR!!!


  • reddishot

    great list. I just have to add my other favourite sitcom mom. The mother on “Arrested Development”, Lucille Bluth played by Jessica Walter. We’ve seen this version of rich, materialistic, selfish and critical mother before as in Greg’s mom on “Dharma and Greg” and even Rory’s grandmother on “Gilmore Girls”. Add to the model perpetual drunkenness and immaturity a la “Absolutely Fabulous” and you have something nothing like what a mother should be. The mother on “Arrested Develpoment” take this role to amazing comedic heights.

  • DouggSeven

    How could everyone forget Edina from Absolutely Fabulous? If her gay son actually lived with her, he’d have the best life ever! The reason she may appear to be a terrible mother is because of her conservative/tree hugging daughter, but just imagine growing up in that house yourself! Everyday would be a party!

  • westendguy

    wished Debbie Novotny from Queer As Folk US would have made it… loved her!

  • soikuma

    #1 lorelai gilmore (:

  • Michael Marcum

    I think Sally fields was the Best Tv mom she played Nora Walker on Brothers and Sisters and I think Roseanne was the second.

  • Jonathan

    What about Dr. Quinn I think Jane Seymour was great and I love how Fran Fine from the Nanny made the list def one of my favs.

  • Jose

    TAMI TAYLOR! Can’t win.

  • Jose

    *Can’t lose.