There is no such thing as a perfect mother, but there are some perfectly imperfect mothers that have been portrayed on television who are endearing because they are hilarious and relatable. Take Modern Family’s character, Claire Dunphy, as an example; she may be controlling, overbearing, and a perfectionist, but everything she does is out of love for her children, who she wants to raise right. Or Desperate Housewives’ Lynette Scavo, who proves that motherhood is a full-time job, and an exhausting one at that, but also that a woman can love her kids and still really crave some “me” time.
These mothers are smart, funny, and dedicated, but there are also mothers on television whose actions have been selfish and inconsiderate, like Victoria Grayson from Revenge. She's manipulative and determined to achieve her goals, no matter whom she affects in the process. And Riverdale’s Alice Cooper, who places unfair pressure on her one daughter to be perfect, and hides away her other daughter out of shame. Unfortunately, not all moms are as selfless as Tami Taylor and Carol Brady.
Here are 10 moms who are relatable, and 10 television moms who are brilliantly acted, but their characters are probably not going to win any mother of the year awards.
Let's start with the 10 moms who were just putting on a show...
20 The O.C: Julie Cooper May Be The Worst TV Mom Of All
Julie Cooper was a secondary character on The O.C. and thank goodness for that because she was one of the least likable.
She was not exactly the nicest person, and that’s because she was a social climber whose life focused on being rich, but she was also concerned about her lost youth.
She made many questionable decisions, with one of the most questionable being her decision to get together with a young man, and not just any young man, but her daughter Marissa’s ex-boyfriend, Luke.
19 Bates Motel: Norma Bates Didn't Notice What Her Son Was Becoming
Norma Bates has two children, yet she seems to focus all her attention on her youngest, Norman and neglects her older son, Dylan (although, this could also be because Dylan, through no fault of his own, reminds her of a dark time in her life).
Norma was a single mother who was unhappy in her own life and devoted to her son, Norman, but some may argue that she was far too devoted and ended up being smothering and controlling him. These actions perhaps played a role in the man that he became (note, the series was based on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film, Psycho).
18 Riverdale: Alice Cooper Has Her Priorities Twisted Up
Riverdale has its fair share of messed up characters, and Alice Cooper is one of them. How can a mother be so ashamed of her teenage daughter that she sends her away, and then lies to her and keeps her in the dark? But it’s not just Polly that she dealt with in the wrong way, but also Betty, who she continued to lie to and manipulate.
Alice also has extremely high expectations for her daughters, in particular, Betty, and puts a lot of pressure on her to succeed.
17 True Blood: Lettie Mae Has Her Own Issues
True Blood is a show that has a lot of messed up characters, but you have to really feel for Tara Thornton because her mother, Lettie Mae, is a bit of a mess. She is a woman who has gone through her own issues for much of her life, but she’s a hypocrite who is deeply religious and still bullies her daughter into thinking she’s worthless. Nice one, Lettie Mae!
This is also a show about vampires, so yes, most mom’s cannot relate to Lettie Mae’s decision to bid farewell to her daughter completely after she was turned into a vampire, but if you remove the vampire bit, the takeaway is this; instead of accepting her daughter for who she was, she turned her back on her.
16 Game Of Thrones: Cersei Lannister's Decisions Are Ill-Thought-Out
There is no denying that Cersei Lannister loves her children, but she definitely doesn’t go about it in the right way. Perhaps one of her biggest flaws was raising one of the most hated characters in television, the boy king, Joffrey, whose actions left fans with dropped jaws.
Yet his mother supported him through it all, and she never once tried to change him or guide him on the path to becoming a better person.
This is one TV mom who is not relatable!
15 Mad Men: Betty Draper-Francis Was More Concerned With Her Lost Youth
January Jones does a superb job portraying Betty Draper-Francis on Mad Men, but her character is not exactly a likable one.
Betty has two children, but she is so preoccupied with her own life and her lost youth that she pays very little attention to them. She never listens, doesn’t appear to care at all, and has some questionable approaches to parenting, and if that wasn’t bad enough, she also takes out her moods and unhappiness about being a suburban housewife on her kids.
14 Revenge: Victoria Grayson Is A Master Manipulator
She’s beautiful, she’s graceful, and she’s one of television's biggest ice queens; Victoria Grayson from Revenge. She is manipulative and dishonest, and instead of being upfront with her children about her past indiscretions, and her daughter’s real father, she chooses to lie about it.
She’s also proven time and time again she will double cross anyone who stands in the way of her goals, even if that person is one of her own children.
Let’s just say Victoria Grayson won’t be winning any mother of the year awards!
13 Grey’s Anatomy: Ellis Grey Left Her Daughter With Emotional Hangups
Meredith Grey is a complicated character, and although she’s strong and talented, she is also emotionally troubled because of her mother, Ellis Grey. One of the reasons for Meredith’s hangups is because her mother was too focused on her job to pay attention to her.
It can be hard being a working mother, but Ellis never found that happy balance. She is also overly critical and self-absorbed, with one of her most memorable quotes being the moment she said this to her daughter: "I raised you to be an extraordinary human being, so imagine my disappointment when I wake up after five years and discover that you are no more than... ordinary!”
12 Arrested Development: Lucille Bluth Doesn't Spread Her Attention Equally
Some people may like Arrested Development’s matriarch Lucille Bluth because she’s blunt and hilarious.
Sure, she’s a great character, but can you imagine actually having her as a mom?
Lucille has five children, but she definitely makes it known that she has favorites. She focuses all of her attention on Buster (she smothers him), she’s incredibly critical of her only daughter, Lindsay, she never thanks Michael for anything that he does for the family, and she doesn’t much care for her oldest son, G.O.B. Plus, she only adopted her Korean son, Annyong, to gain favor from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
11 Shameless: Monica Gallagher Is An Absent Mom
Shameless is funny, complicated, and also really sad, and one of the reasons it is so emotionally charged is because Monica Gallagher has no time for her children. In fact, she left them and is content to let the child-rearing responsibilities fall to her oldest daughter, Fiona, who has had to take on all the drama and responsibility of being a parent to her five siblings.
Monica has her own issues, but she does have a few redeeming moments throughout the series when she tries, in her own way, to make amends for not being in her kids' lives.
And here are the 10 moms who were very relatable...
10 Gilmore Girls: Lorelai's Daughter Is Her First Priority
They are probably the most famous mother and daughter duo ever portrayed on television, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls. These two are best friends in many ways, and although it may seem as though Lorelai has taken on a role of her daughters friend, rather than her parent, this dynamic works for them because it allows for open and honest conversations that cover a range of topics.
But the thing that makes Lorelai a really great mom is her desire to put her daughter first.
9 Modern Family: Claire Dunphy Is A Real Mom
Modern Family is such a hit show because it manages to capture the complex family dynamics that exist in a hilarious and relatable way. And one of the best characters is Claire Dunphy. From the way Claire is now, it would be impossible to know she was once a rebellious teenager, and it’s this reason why she is a controlling mom.
She can also be overbearing and a perfectionist, but everything she does is out of love, and a desire to raise children who are well-rounded and nice individuals.
She’s a hilarious character, filled with flaws and sarcasm, and we cannot help but love her for it.
8 Stranger Things: Joyce Byers Did Whatever It Took
Stranger Things’ character Joyce Byers is a hardworking woman (working long hours and weekends to provide for her kids) and she's a great example of the unconditional love a mother has; She's a parent will go to extreme lengths for the well-being of her children after her son Will mysteriously disappeared.
Joyce was willing to go to hell and back (quite literally) to help her son, Will. Even though she worries that she could be going crazy, and others don’t believe her, if there is even a shred of hope about finding her son, she will continue to try. It’s this love and dedication as a mother than makes Joyce such an incredible character, and one of the most relatable.
7 Malcolm in the Middle: Lois' Struggles Are Relatable
Lois from Malcolm in the Middle is definitely not a perfect mom; she’s stubborn, she can be extremely strict and controlling, and she doesn’t have her life together, but then again, there is no such thing as a perfect mom, which is why she’s a great character.
Lois reminds us motherhood is not easy. She’s hardworking, and she has her own struggles trying to get through the 101 different roles that being a mother demands of her -- and raising four boys -- but she somehow manages to keep her family together and her boys' needs are taken care of.
6 Brothers And Sisters: Nora Walker Loves Her Kids
There are many films and TV shows that have depicted mothers, but arguably one of the most likable is Nora Walker on Brothers and Sisters (played by Sally Field). Walker is a mother to five children, and although there is no denying that at times she is incredibly overbearing and inquisitive, the best things about her is her unconditional love for her children.
In fact, it’s this love that drives her to try and involve herself in their lives.
Another reason this is one of the more believable family units portrayed on television is that of all these characters are flawed, and regardless of Walker’s children's flaws, she protects and cares for them.
5 Friday Night Lights: Tami Taylor Was A Parent To Everyone
One of the main characters on Friday Night Lights is Tami Taylor (wife of the main character, football coach Eric Taylor). In addition to being a supportive and loving wife, she is also a dedicated mother to her two children, and her mothering nature does not stop there.
Tami is responsible for taking care of multiple teenagers who live in her town and attend Dillion High. She is willing to offer her knowledge and support to these children, and her own, to help them achieve a better life.
4 Blck-Ish: Rainbow Johnson Navigates Tough Issues
It’s impossible not to like Black-ish's Rainbow Johnson (played by Tracee Ellis Ross) because she’s a working mom who holds down a great job, but she still finds time to be there to raise her five children.
She’s a bit of a superwoman really, because she manages to balance so many aspects of her life.
Viewers also have a lot of respect for her because of the way she treats her children, and her ability to discuss serious topics -- and the birds and the bees is a pretty tough topic to navigate.
3 This Is Us: Beth Pearson Is Super Dedicated To Her Family
Beth Pearson (portrayed by the brilliant Susan Kelechi Watson) and her husband Randall are one of TV’s most loved couples, not because they have a relationship that is total goals, but because they have one that is real, and they are committed to working on it. But this isn’t about Beth’s role as a wife, but rather as a mother and she really loves her daughters, Tess and Annie.
But more than anything, she is a strong role model for them because she's a woman who stands up for herself, is honest about her feelings, calls out her husband and extended family on their nonsense.
2 The Brady Bunch: Carol Brady Is Basically Mom Goals
No mom is perfect, but Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch does come scarily close. She did a great job raising her three biological daughters, but also became a loving and dedicated mother to her husband’s three sons, proving that stepmoms are not always bad like Disney movies want us to believe.
She was responsible for raising a large brood, and while this must have left her exhausted, she still managed to have an upbeat approach because she knew that everything she faced was worth it.
1 Desperate Housewives: Lynette Scavo Just Needs A Break
Desperate Housewives was an entertaining show, but in some ways, the characters were also relatable, most notably Lynette Scavo.
Lynette was a career woman, but chose to give up her success to focus on being a full-time mom which left her exhausted and with a million things on her mind.
She is a character that proved raising a household of four children (three boys and one girl) is tough and a full-time job, but also that you can love your children with your whole heart, and still desperately need some “me” time.
References: Rotten Tomatoes, Vulture, Stranger Things Fandom, Desperate Housewives Fandom, Riverdale Fandom, True Blood Fandom, Bustle, Zimbio, ABC Go, TV Fanatic, Bates Motel Fandom, Arrested Development Fandom, Shameless Fandom.