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Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother Knows Best: TV moms we (heart) and (hate)

We love our moms. More than anything.

But since Mother's Day is this weekend and we write about TV, Channel Surfing's Sara Boyd, Thomas Rozwadowski, Malavika Jagannathan and Adam Reinhard decided to fall in line with the customary TV Mom tributes you'll find on similar blogs and Web sites this time of year.

Except we weren't about to rank the all-time best or tally the worst of the worst (we'll save the really negative stuff for Father's Day thanks to the compost heap of crappy dads in TV land.) Instead, we're gettin' deep by internalizing this fake mommy business and choosing which ones we'd want to have heart-to-hearts with as if this were some type of boob tube draft for the ages. For good measure, we're also tossing some rotten ones on the pile (in case YOU, dear reader, foolishly fall for their charm) -- because even though that TV screen kept us at a safe distance all these years, man if some of these
miserable moms didn't inflict some serious Menendez-like damage.

Mom I'd want: Miranda Hobbes ("Sex and the City"

Miranda didn't start out as a good mother, mostly because she didn't want to be a mother. But watching Miranda grow and accept her motherhood has made me wish I was a child of hers. Let's face it, a mom who's sarcastic and stylish ... and has friends like Samantha, Carrie and Charlotte is definitely rare. Even struggling through the newborn phase with little Brady, Miranda never wavered from her Manolos or her girl's nights. And those are definitely shoes I'd want to follow in.

Mom I wouldn't want: Lily Van der Woodsen ("Gossip Girl")

OK, yes, a life of riches, privilege, butlers and catered parties would be awesome. But not with a mother like Lily Van der Woodsen. Especially after this recent stunt. After Serena tries to catch scheming Poppy and make her give back the money she stole, Lily pulls the plug right as the bad girl was getting away. She calls her own daughter into the cops and has them replace Serena's heirloom diamond bracelet with a couple of their own. Even for Lily, this is a new all-time low. For a mother like that, tarnishing the "family name" on the infamous Page Six is a tragedy worse than imprisonment. A mother with such screwed up priorities and who cares that much about family image clearly puts the love of her children and being a supportive parent on the back burner. Guess money can't buy everything.

Mom I wouldn't want: Judy Geller ("Friends")

I guess I should clarify this -- I wouldn't want Judy Geller for a mother, unless I was Ross. If you're Ross, well, you have the best mom in the world -- a mom who loves everything you do, thinks you can't go wrong (unless you were tricked into smoking the reefer in college ...) and is always making you feel like the superior child. (After all, Ross is a medical miracle!) On the other hand, if you're Monica ... you have the worst mom EVER. Even on your wedding day, your mother will find something to be disappointed in. And don't forget her little catchphrase for every time you screw something up -- looks like someone pulled a Monica! Judy Geller clearly has a grudge against Monica and uses it to remind Little Miss HarMonica that Ross is her favorite child. No wonder Monica became the "fat kid" as a child.

-- Sara Boyd

Mom I'd want: Marion Cunningham ("Happy Days")

The type of mom you could bring home to .. well, mom ... Marion Cunningham is the only person who was allowed to call the ultra-cool Fonz by his real first name of Arthur. Doting and affectionate yet hardly a pushover whenever Howard got cranky in his favorite chair or spent too much time at the Lodge, good ol' Mrs. C raised her boy, Richie, right -- I mean, geez, look at all those Oscar-worthy blockbusters Ron Howard is cranking out these days. (We'll also give our beloved homemaker a free pass on the mysterious disappearance of oldest son Chuck from Season 1. It definitely couldn't have been the cooking that drove him away. We hear she makes a mean pot roast.) Bottom line: since The Fonz loved her like his own, so do we. They definitely don't make TV moms that look as sweet and innocent as actress Marion Ross anymore.

Mom I'd want: Lucille Bluth ("Arrested Development")

Michael turned out normal, so Lucille Bluth can't be THAT bad, right? OK ... she's a complete train wreck. A clueless, racist, insensitive alcoholic who calls for a cab only after she smashes her car into a tree, Lucille is the original pampered "Housewife of Orange County." And sure she ruined Lindsay's self-esteem, all but ignored Gob's existence and smothered manchild Buster into paralysis, but man, she's fiercely loyal to her family -- or at least that Bluth bank account. Look how she drank Kitty under the table or refused to release the Bluth Company's dirty secrets about Saddam. Plus, she does one helluva chicken dance. Guaranteed, booze-filled laughs in these depressing economic times? I'd dress in a matching sailor outfit and accompany her to Motherboy XXX anytime.

Mom I wouldn't want: Kate Gosselin ("Jon & Kate Plus 8")

Reality star Kate Gosselin has been having a rough go of it lately, what with tabloid reports about Stepford husband Jon flirting with dashing young damsels. Whether or not Jon is nuzzling with co-eds at 2 a.m. isn't the issue, though. Kate-zilla wouldn't be a sympathetic mom or wife even if Jon had been kept tethered and neutered in the backyard ("WHAT? YOU DIDN'T USE A COUPON FOR YOUR NEW HUSBAND LEASH? DIE, DIE, DIE!")

Now, the following criticisms might come off as harsh since we're talking about a real person, not a TV character here -- but maybe that's the problem. The lines have become increasingly blurred with budding fame, and it's pretty apparent that the fake tan, designer outfit US Magazine Gosselins are much different than the 'Hey, we're the poor freaks who had sextuplets! What, you want to give us a TV show?' Gosselins.

And what's that old saying: be careful what you wish for? Look, I don't claim to know Kate Gosselin (and yes, this isn't all on her). But I've seen and read enough to know what I don't like about her. After a scathing assessment of TV's "cuddliest reality family" by Philadelphia Magazine torched the gushy Gosselin facade, the claws really came out on the Internet. Ardent "Jon and Kate" supporters pull the customary "blame the media" card and react as if their own family is being attacked. Detractors think enough is enough for the kids, who finally deserve some peace and quiet. After all, Jon and Kate are both on record as saying the fishbowl -- and subsequent paparazzi camping out on the street -- is tough to deal with. Then why go through with it? The perks of fame are pretty sweet, that's why.

Nope, I'll take the normal childhood without the media glare, thank you very much. Kids come to appreciate it more than anything once they're adults. Just ask that Michael Jackson guy.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski

Mom I'd Want: Murphy Brown ("Murphy Brown")

Who doesn't want to say their mom got kicked out of the White House by two different administrations? True, Murphy Brown was working girl extraordinaire first, a crack reporter whose pregnancy was as much a surprise to her as everyone around her, but she's a no-nonsense, levelheaded mother. Plus, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't care if I got into trouble. In fact, she might even encourage it.

I'd have to get used to spending a lot of time with my babysitter, Eldin the painter, but we'd have late night dances to Motown to look forward to and state dinners where she'd use me to catch politicians in lies.

Murphy may not be the most attentive mother -- after all, career comes first -- but she'd be fun, supporting and loving

Mom I'd Want: Lorelai Gimore ("Gilmore Girls")

Murphy Brown made single motherhood acceptable on television, but Lorelai Gilmore made it cool.

The hip, funny, thirtysomething Gilmore girl scores an easy win in my replacement mom category (not that I'm in the market, although I'm pretty sure my mom would agree on this pick). She's young, she's fun, she's got pop culture references for every occasion and her wardrobe is perfect for stealing from. Now, Lorelai hasn't always had it easy — she's a single teenage mom who works herself up to become a small business owner, she’s always at odds with her blue-blooded parents and she has trouble keeping a man around for more than a season or two.

But living with Lorelai would be a blast. No one day would be quite the same -- different takeout orders, random trips, endless cups of coffee -- and we'd be friends from the start. Of course, she will get motherly when she needs to -- whether it's to beg the aforementioned parents for money to send me to private school or freak out when I stay out all night with a boyfriend.

Only downside to having a mother who looks like Lorelai? I’m pretty sure I’d have an inferiority complex as long as I live.

Mom I wouldn't want: Betty Draper ("Mad Men")

The beautiful but cold, desperate housewife on AMC’s “Mad Men,” Betty Draper is a terrible mother despite her attention to cooking and cleaning her house. She’s basically June Cleaver with a dash of Alex Forrest instability thrown in.

If Sally and Bobby Draper are any indication, I'd have to be incredibly well-behaved and kept at a distance. Even though she's a stay-at-home mom, I'd have to spend time with baby sitters that range from old women to the pregnant neighbor who smokes and drinks. Oh, and then are the breakdowns that range from shooting a BB gun at the neighbor's pigeons to drinking in the middle of the day. Betty's number one flaw is that she only thinks of herself, which makes her a dreadful parent.

I wouldn’t mind inheriting her Grace Kelly looks, but I’m not sure I want her personality or her psychological problems.

-- Malavika Jagannathan

Mom I'd want: Marge Simpson ("The Simpsons")

Sure, she's had trouble with alcoholism and gambling. She may be a little embarrassing, walking around in the same green dress and 6-foot beehive day in, day out. And yeah, she's got that yellow skin working against her. But honestly, who wouldn't want Marge Simpson as their mom? Supportive and understanding to a fault, this a woman who not only deals with a gorilla like Homer and a hellion like Bart every day, but actually manages to keep them in line sometimes. Heck, I'd be a freaking golden child by comparison.

Mom I wouldn't want: Lianne Mars ("Veronica Mars")

At one point, Lianne Mars must have been a great mother. Why else would Veronica miss her so much -- and search for her so relentlessly -- when she high-tailed it out of Neptune? But any mom who would abandon her family just because of a little scandal and public scrutiny doesn't deserve that kind of devotion. Add to that her theft of Veronica's college money (twice!) and the fact that her new home was inside a bottle of Jack Daniels, and you have a solid candidate for Worst TV Mom Ever.

Mom I'd want: Dr. Maureen Robinson ("Lost in Space")

I've never seen an episode of "Lost In Space," and therefore have no idea how good of a mother Maureen Robinson was. I'm guessing she was just like your average '60s TV mom: She cooked, cleaned, and tended to boo-boos, all while maintaining a meticulously neat haircut. But the fact that she did all these things IN SPACE (and LOST in space, no less!) kinda makes me wish I could be a Robinson too. (The added bonus of having a giant robot who could warn me of impending danger would be a definite plus.)

-- Adam Reinhard

Carmela Soprano? Elyse Keaton? Carol Brady? Joey Gladstone?

Your turn, people. Place your picks below.

And of course, Happy Mother's Day!

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Despite her prudish and stuffy facade, Bree Van de Kamp is the mom I'd want. Not only would I feast on gourmet dinners and homemade muffins or scones for breakfast (yep, I'm all about food), she'd also lie to keep me out of jail after I ran someone over with my car. Who beats that?

My nightmare mom would be Felice Martin of (the original) 90210. Her pretentious nature is similar to Bree's, but I never once saw her deliver freshly baked goods to Donna (and given how sickly skinny she was, she definitely could've used them). Plus, she put her daughter's future as a West Bev graduate at risk because she was too embarrassed to appeal when the school board found Donna guilty of being drunk at prom. Where's the loyalty? Where's the love? She could learn a lesson from Bree on protecting your young ...

By Anonymous mary, At May 9, 2009 at 6:29 PM  

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