It’s a week where women are high on the agenda, with International Women’s Day AND Mother’s Day all happening in the space of just a few days. So with that in mind, here are the greatest TV mums of all time, as chosen by us.
Helen Daniels (Neighbours)
Neighbours has been a show brimming with wonderful mums. Madge, she was good. Susan Kennedy always seemed to do the right thing, even Mrs Mangel managed to produce relatively well-balanced offspring. But for those who were there from the start, it was all about Helen Daniels, the counter-stereotype to interfering mothers-in-law, constantly putting herself second. We still haven’t got over her fictional death in 1997. Nor her actual one two years later.
Marge Simpson (The Simpsons)
With a cigar-smoker’s rasp and hair as blue as the summer sky, in most households Marge Simpson would be considered a strange clown-like figure, but not so here. Partly because she’s a cartoon, so it’s excusable to have a column of vertical hair in a primary colour, and also because she is the calm amidst the whirlwind that is Homer Simpson. The rock in an angry ocean. The hug in a thunderstorm. The lioness. The goddess. Kneel before Marge.
Nancy Botwin (Weeds)
For the uninitiated, Weeds was a Breaking Bad precursor, finding suburban drug dealing at the centre of a story about a morally-conflicted parent. Only, in this case, Walter White was a lady, and not just that, a widow, and also a mother-of-two. Played by Mary Louise Parker, Nancy makes ends meet by dealing little bags of weed to local potheads, whose incessant nonsensical rambling is proof enough that she’d do anything for her family.
Peggy Mitchell (Eastenders)
The planet around which the twin moons and shiny pink pates of Grant and Phil Mitchell orbit, Peggy somehow manages to rule the roost despite, ironically, having Jonathan Ross-like issues with the letter “R”. Whether she’s chucking people out of her pub, or making ruinous love decisions with that joker Frank, she’s always got time for family, they’re at the heart of everything she does, and that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? Good ole Peggy.
Edina (Absolutely Fabulous)
The topsy-turvy world of Ab-Fab muddled the mother-daughter stereotype, so that Saffy would be the one tutting by the front door while her mum zig-zagged down the street before glamourously barfing into a hedge. Testament to the fact that you can leave life’s meter running without getting too uptight about it. Also, Edi was arguably the funniest TV mum of them all.
Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos)
In terms of the bigger picture, Carmela’s life decisions are generally pretty dubious. Yes, she has the trappings of great wealth, but also, she married a mob boss who frequently murders people, and at one point she came this close to rogering a devout man of the cloth. But whatever, potato potarto, because Carmela is a marvel. Capable of feeding the five thousand, while protecting her family with the inner steeliness of a panther.
Tami Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
If you look up “warm hearted” in the dictionary, you’ll probably find a picture of Tami Taylor, the flaming heart at the centre of the peerless US teen drama Friday Night Lights, in which she emits more warmth than a thousand blazing suns, and says “y’all” a lot. Not just the spiritual guide for her small brood, she is somehow mother to every single character in the show, and then beyond it via the magic of television. In many ways she’s your mum without you knowing it. Someone should make a statue of her, that’s what we’re saying.
Clair Huxtable (The Cosby Show)
You shouldn’t let the behaviour of one bad egg infect the legacy of one of the best family sitcoms of all time. So let’s politely ignore her leading man, and instead kneel in reverence at the foot of Clair Huxtable, mother of FIVE, successful lawyer, the prowling matriarch, who provides the moral backbone of her family. Just a pity husband Cliff turned out to be such a disastrous bastard (though no, we’re not mentioning that).
Roseanne Conner (Roseanne)
Shrill, sarcastic, impossible to dupe, Roseanne was the kind of mum who’d ask you why you were showing off in front of your friends, IN FRONT OF YOUR FRIENDS. Yet, beneath the bulldozing personality and incessant quipping, was a soft centre (which, by the way, is a metaphor, not an aspersion on her weight), and a loving heart. The kind of heroic mother-of-three who would turn up at the school gates to lay into your bullies.
Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)
Oscillating between undermining her children, and coddling them to the point of inescapable-infancy, Lucille Bluth is the Queen Bee, the arch manipulator, and, basically, the ultimate grandmother. It’s true. Have one of these matriarchs once-removed, and they’re great, but exist in their orbit as their actual offspring, and you’d be wise to relocate, change your name, and wear those plastic-rimmed glasses with a nose and moustache attached for the rest of your life.