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Here's Looking at You, TV Moms

by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day here in the US, which got me thinking about some of the fictional moms on TV shows that I’m either watching right now or have loved in the recent past. TV mothers have evolved since the earlier days of television; moms like Donna Reed and Harriet Nelson are beloved matriarchs of a bygone era, but most modern moms are written much more realistically, making them more relatable. There are a lot of these modern TV moms that I could highlight, but I’ll stick with just a few. Whether they’re drinking coffee like a fiend, spontaneously bursting into song, or making their way through an enchanted forest, all of these fictional mothers have traits that would make them cool real-life moms; unless, of course, you're a teenager--then you're likely embarrassed by your parents no matter who they are.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White
Snow White/Mary Margaret (played by Ginnifer Goodwin)--Once Upon a Time

I had heard of the series "Once Upon a Time", but was a little hesitant to check it out. In all fairness, I didn’t know much about it, only that it was based on traditional and newer fairytale characters. I finally decided to give it a go though, and found myself sticking with it. The premise intrigued me, and there are some really fun CGI effects and scenery (not to mention lots of fantastic costumes). As I kept watching and became drawn into the characters and their storylines, I started to get emotionally invested and now have a handful of favorites. Among them is Snow White, a.k.a. Mary Margaret, played by Ginnifer Goodwin. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but on Once, Snow is a mom, and the kind of mom that earns her a place in this article.

Once’s Snow White is a departure from the Disney standard; rather than being a feathery-voiced damsel in distress, Snow White is pretty badass, and an example that a mother can be bold and self-sufficient. She’s kind and has the best of intentions, yet tough and more or less fearless. This Snow White is handy with a bow and arrow too; in flashbacks and in the present day, we see her facing off against the bad guys (and gals) and not shying away from going into a battle. One of my favorite aspects of “Snow White, the mom” is that she’s also the epitome of patience and encouragement. As a real-life mother, her children would be lucky to have her in their corner; understanding and reassuring, but fiercely protective when need be.

L-R: Louise, Gene, Bob, Tina, and Linda Belcher
Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts)--Bob’s Burgers

I’ll ‘fess up right away and admit that Linda Belcher isn’t my #1 favorite character from the animated series "Bob’s Burgers" (that distinction goes to Louise, the pink-bunny-ears-wearing, smart-aleck, always-makes-me-laugh younger daughter). However, Linda’s offbeat personality and let’s just say--somewhat unique--way of parenting makes me laugh every time I watch the show too.

I can’t say that I’d necessarily relish having a mom who adores dinner theater and has a penchant for breaking into song at the drop of a hat, as she often does. But as kooky and sometimes slightly annoying as she can be, her positive traits outweigh anything else. Linda accepts and encourages her kids tremendously, even when the situation is a little dubious and should have been thought through. She’s often misguided, which leads to all sorts of crazy misadventures on the show, but she has a certain optimism and joie de vivre that’s endearing. As a real-life mom, kids could do much worse than Linda. Even as a cartoon, there’s something about her lack of perfection and always-trying attitude that is incredibly realistic. And like Linda, the vast majority of mothers love their children beyond measure and are simply just doing their best.

Fun sidenote: Before he was on "Bob’s Burgers", John Roberts was a YouTube sensation for videos where he imitated his own mom. The voice he uses in those impersonations sounds a lot like Linda Belcher. Thanks, John’s mom!

Lorelai and Rory Gilmore
Lorelai Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham)--Gilmore Girls

I should probably be completely upfront that, though this list isn’t in any particular order, I’m a huge fan of the series "Gilmore Girls". That said, it may not surprise you that Lorelai Gilmore is probably my all-time favorite TV mom of the last decade or so.

To rein myself in (since I could talk about "Gilmore Girls" for days), the short version for anyone not familiar with the show is this: single mom Lorelai raises her teenage daughter, Rory, in a small town called Stars Hollow. Even though she’s independent, to quote Joe Cocker and the Beatles, she “gets by with a little help from (her) friends” and neighbors.

Quirky, fun, and armed with rapid-fire quips and sarcasm, Lorelai is a big personality. Having been a teen mom who left home to venture out on her own, Lorelai learned a lot of parenting skills on the fly, which helps make her another believable fictional mother. She, too, is just doing her best, and it’s her mistakes and doubts that make me appreciate her and identify with her a bit.

In Rory’s social circle, Lorelai is undisputably the “cool mom,” and even though they butt heads now and then, she and Rory have an incredibly close relationship. In real life, Lorelai would be the type of mother that most of us would probably want to have. Luckily, it's easy to "visit" Stars Hollow and hang out with her whenever we'd like through the magic of television.

So now that I’ve shared some of my favorite recent TV moms with you, let us know which fictional moms you can't help but love (and maybe secretly wish were your own), readers.