When you think of typical TV moms, you probably think of Carol Brady or June Cleaver — women whose entire identities focused on motherood. But there are plenty of TV shows that realize that moms are also people, and have turned them into awesome, kick-ass characters in their own right. In honour of Mother’s Day, we’re counting down the 13 coolest moms in TV history.
13. Cookie Lyon, Empire
Is Cookie a good mom? No. She frequently puts the music business ahead of her own children, and she doesn’t think twice about beating them for talking back. But is she cool? Hells yes. No other TV mom could get away with some of her outfits, and she’s the exactly the kind of mom we’d love to share a bottle of wine with.
12. Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
While we’ve questioned Marge’s choice to stay with Homer (and she’s even questioned it herself), it’s clear Marge adores her children and wants to help them grow. There is no better mom quote than one of Marge’s from the first season: “Always be yourself. If you want to be sad, honey, be sad. We’ll ride it out with you. And when you get finished feeling sad, we’ll still be there.”
11. Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It’s hard enough being a single mother to a rebellious teenage girl; just imagine being the mother to a vampire slayer! Although Joyce did make some mistakes (such as kicking Buffy out when she discovered her slaying ways), she was ultimately incredibly supportive of her daughter’s destiny. Her death continues to be one of the most devastating character deaths in TV history.
10. Lois, Malcolm in the Middle
A no-nonsense woman with incredible patience, Lois balanced her love for her four sons with her absolute refusal to take any of their crap. Even as all of her kids took very different paths in life, she found ways to support and encourage all of them on their unique (and often very weird) paths — even if it meant doling out some tough love every once in a while.
9. Vivian Banks, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
We’re obviously talking about the Vivian Banks of the first few seasons of Fresh Prince, who was a strong, opinionated career woman and a force to be reckoned with. That Vivian was awesome. The passive, boring Vivian who replaced her, the one who showed no ambition or drive or any real character traits? Pass.
8. Patty Chase, My So-Called Life
Patty was an outlier when it cames to TV moms in the ’90s, in that she was the main moneymaker of the Chase family. And we also got to see her evolve as a person, from reluctant and unsure of daughter Angela’s new friends, to understanding and accepting them as valuable parts of her daughter’s life. All the high fives to Patty.
7. Linda Belcher, Bob’s Burgers
Linda is such a weird, wonderful lady, and all the Belcher children are lucky to have her as a mom. She’s a supportive wife and mom, and she really knows how to wear a pair of cat-eye glasses. Plus, what’s not to love about a woman who comes up with her own song to sing about Thanksgiving?
6. Kitty Foreman, That ’70s Show
Kitty was the real unsung hero of of the Foreman family, balancing a busy, full-time schedule as a nurse while also cooking all of the family’s meals and keeping the house together. She had a sweet and close relationship with her son Eric, and wasn’t afraid to admit that her daughter Lori was a pretty big disappointment. Sure, sometimes Kitty got in a little too deep with the wine, but who hasn’t?
5. Jessica Huang, Fresh Off The Boat
You probably won’t find a more self-assured mom on TV than Jessica Huang, who takes no guff from anybody. She pushes her children to be their best, and encourages them to hold onto their Chinese culture — definitely not easy to do in Orlando in the 1990s. She might be a little tough on her kids, but they’ll thank her for it.
4. Roseanne Conner, Roseanne
Roseanne was one of the first real blue-collar moms we got to see on TV, and she was a force to be reckoned with. She knew that doing the best for her kids often meant they wouldn’t like her, and she didn’t care one bit. She set a great example for her kids by starting her own business and keeping her marriage to Dan strong. (Let’s just pretend that last season never happened.)
3. Sophia Petrillo, The Golden Girls
Sophia was never without a devastating one-liner to mock daughter Dorothy (with plenty left over to dole out to Rose and Blanche, too), but it was clear her teasing came from a place of love. Having a mom that clever would constantly keep you on your toes, and Dorothy’s razor-sharp wit was clearly due to her mother’s influence. Sophia, you rock.
2. Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
Lorelai is the ultimate cool mom, forming a close friendship with daughter Rory, speaking a mile a minute and making more pop culture references in one breath than most people can even think of in a year. She wasn’t immune to rash decisions or dumb mistakes, but that made her human, and her ability to be a good mom to Rory was never in question.
1. Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Without a doubt, Tami Taylor is the coolest mom TV has ever seen. The wife of a Texas town’s high school football coach could have faded into the background, but Tami refused to settle for that role. Instead, she blossomed as a wise, kind guidance counselor who helped many kids find their way, and she even showed remarkable patience with her petulant daughter, Julie. We did all the fist pumps in the series finale when Tami forced her husband to move with her so she could become a dean of admissions.