It’s Mother’s Day, and in addition to remembering the women who gave birth to us, it is also important that we reflect on the other women who gave us life—our TV moms. Everyone has a favorite mother from television they halfway wished were their real-life mama. Whether it was their jokes, the way they always had a hot breakfast ready in the morning or the advice they gave during that “very special episode,” today we salute the other women who raised us: the top 10 TV moms of all time.
Willona was more than just the nosy neighbor on Good Times. She was a friend and baby-sitter and eventually became an adoptive parent, although I still can’t understand why Willona lived in the projects before she adopted Penny. How did she get government housing as a single woman, no kids, who had a good job as a buyer down at the Boutique? And who names a store in Chicago “the Boutique”? This all seemed fishy to me, and I suspect it was a front for a money-laundering operation, but that’s none of my business. All I know is that she took Penny in, raised her as her own child and guided her into a life of pop superstardom after Penny released that Control album.
As the matriarch of The Proud Family, Trudy was an educated mother who always took the time to give her daughter Penny much-needed advice. She raised a family, loved to cook, worked as a veterinarian, disciplined Bebe and Cece’s bad asses, and was patient enough to explain everything to her dumb-ass husband. I’m not hating on Oscar, but how did he end up with Trudy? I mean, she was ... you know what? This is not supposed to be about me. Never mind.
I felt sorry for Mama whenever I watched What’s Happening. First of all, Raj always had his friends over while she was out working hard. And they were always getting into trouble (of course, Dee told her everything). Mama worked so hard to try to give her kids a better life, and all they wanted to do was hang out at Shirley’s. Plus, can you imagine how many times she had to pay to get her floor repaired because Rerun was always in the house pop-locking, sweating and smelling like somebody left bologna out overnight? And Dwayne wasn’t fooling anybody. You think Mama didn’t know he was trying to holla at Dee?
If nothing else, Cookie Lyons of Empire gets the award for best-dressed mom on TV. Plus, Cookie went to jail for her family! Look, everyone loves the people on this list, but how long do you think Trudy Proud would last locked up in the pen? They’d eat Willona alive if she had to do hard time. Plus, Cookie deserves an award for giving her sons the confidence and self-esteem to believe anyone would pay to listen to their whiny, nasally voices.
For future reference, whenever we talk about the mom from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, we are talking about the first one. The only Vivian we acknowledge is the dark-skinned one. Even though Carlton and Hilary Banks were spoiled, entitled brats, they were basically good kids. Aunt Viv let Will come live with them and stayed fine the whole time because black never really cracks.
But apparently, it can suddenly turn light-skinned between seasons.
Tasha raised a son by herself to play NFL quarterback and built a sports-management empire on The Game. Then she had another child late in life. Sure, she was pretty ratchet, but that’s why we loved her. Plus, she didn’t discriminate. She dated pretty boys like Rick Fox and still kicked it with the homies from around the way. You gotta love any woman who will date a grown man named “Pookie.”
The youngest mom on the list, Van has to put up with a lot while dealing with Ern on Atlanta. I feel for her sometimes, because she probably thought she was building a family with a soon-to-be-Ivy League-educated man, and she ended up with a baby daddy who lives in a storage container and makes a living as the third member of a Soundcloud rapper’s entourage. But she seems to be a good mother, though.
Louise comes in at No. 3 just for putting up with George all day, every day. She would’ve come in at No. 1 except for one fact: Why the hell did she need a full-time maid for that tiny apartment? My dorm room in college was bigger than the “deluxe apartment in the sky” on The Jeffersons. She didn’t even work full time; she just went down to the “Help Center” every now and then. Now, I’m not saying that it was Weezy’s place to cook and clean; all I’m saying is, they could’ve donated the money they paid Florence to the United Negro College Fund scholarship or given it to Lionel to start his own business.
She was a lawyer. She raised five kids. She was beautiful. She was classy. Clair Huxtable had it all on The Cosby Show. Clair’s very existence made her the mother of every child in the ’80s and she could have been No. 1 on this list if she hadn’t cheated on Cliff.
Wait ... you guys didn’t know? There’s no way you thought Sandra and Denise were Cliff’s kids. Come on, people, open your eyes!
Florida Evans is the greatest television mom of all time. She raised three happy, well-adjusted kids in the projects of Chicago while battling every force you can imagine. When James died, she didn’t skip a beat. When she thought Thelma had finally made it out of the ghetto, but her husband went from the NFL to hiding cheap vodka in the toilet tank, Florida withstood the storm. She made it through J.J. getting shot. She dealt with Michael’s gang involvement. She helped Penny deal with child abuse. She survived being stranded in a snowstorm. Wait ...
Why did they call that show Good Times, again?