Most television shows tend to focus on the nuclear family, mother, father, and children, and usually forget the other key members of a typical family. However, grandparents, grandmothers, in particular, are not only vital to a family unit but can also be interesting and complex characters.
Yes, grandmothers often don't get the recognition they deserve. But, think about it? They have already done their job of raising their own kids, and now they have to take on a whole new role of raising grandchildren, and it is not as easy as one might think. Here are 10 best TV grandmothers of all time.
10 Mother (Absolutely Fabulous)
Absolutely Fabulous is one of the best British comedies in the entire world if not one of the best comedies ever written. However, although the show is most famous for introducing the universe to Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and Edwina (Jennifer Saunders), it was June Whitfield as "mother" that really stole the show.
Yes, "mother" is all kinds of funny, from her hilarious one-liners to the fact that she is also a kleptomaniac. Plus, the onscreen chemistry between all the actresses involved is up there with some of the best relationships on television. Sadly, June Whitefield died in 2018, meaning an end to one of the funniest grandmothers on television.
9 Emily Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
This might come as a surprise, but Emily Gilmore is one of the best grandmothers on television, mostly for her hilarity but also her sweet and often vulnerable heart.
Yes, Emily might come across as an old battleax intent on sticking her nose into her daughter and granddaughter's private life, and yes, Emily might only care about her appearance, her money and looking the part, but at the center of it all, Emily really does care about her family. Plus, Emily is the best thing about Gilmore Girls, with the actress, Kelly Bishop, playing the character to perfection, with her comic timing a standout feature.
8 Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls)
Golden Girls is a fan favourite for a number of reasons, from the amazing cast, the hilarious script and the absolute uniqueness of it all. In fact, Golden Girls has enough talent to single out any one of the actresses involved but there was one character in particular that somehow managed to stand out from the rest of the bunch.
Yes, nobody was funnier than Dorothy's Mom, Sophia, played by the hilarious Estelle Getty. Sophia was everything you would expect from an Italian matriarch and was known for her hilarious insults, brash remarks and interfering with her daughter and her roommates.
7 Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)
In reality, Lucille Bluth is everybody's worst nightmare and a grandmother that you would do your very best to avoid. Yes, she is basically Emily Gilmore but ten times worse with a sprinkle of evil and narcissistic tendencies. However, although she might be awful, she is absolutely hilarious, making her right for this list and one of the best TV grandmothers to ever grace the screen.
Yes, Lucille might be awful, but let's face it, doing things such as accidentally adopting a Korean child, getting copious amounts of plastic surgery, and being the worst mother ever to her children, is everything you want in a television grandmother.
6 Violet Crawley (Downton Abbey)
Back in the day, Grandmothers often took the role of the powerful matriarch and head of the family. Downton Abbey does this perfectly, with Dame Maggie Smith portraying the bitter old Violet Crawley in the best way imaginable. Yes, Violet Crawley is famed for her acid tongue and huge bite as well as her ignorant opinions on the world and the lives of her family.
She is also the mother in law from hell and routinely interferes with her daughter in law's decisions and life choices. However, although she might be a nightmare she is the standout character on the show, but what would you expect from Dame Maggie Smith?
5 Martha Levinson (Downton Abbey)
While Downton Abbey might also have the bitter old battleax of Violet Crawley, with her stiff upper lip and brutish British ways, the show also has the complete opposite in the character of brash American Martha Levinson. That's right, Martha Levinson, played by the amazing Shirley MacLaine is beautiful to Violet Crawley's bold.
However, that's not to say that Martha doesn't pack a punch when it comes to interfering with the family's life choices, she's just not as British about it. To make things even better, the show is at its very best when both grandmothers end up on screen together, with Dame Maggie Smith and Shirley MacLaine playing their parts to perfection.
4 Evelyn Harper (Two And A Half Men)
Two And A Half Men was pretty good back in the day before Charlie Sheen lost the plot and ruined the whole thing. However, the best part about the show was the mother of the two main characters, Evelyn Nora Harper, otherwise known as Satan. Evelyn, played by the wonderful Holland Taylor, was a self-obsessed, superficial nightmare, who only expressed love and affection for her children when she needed something.
Furthermore, Evelyn has been married a large number of times and tends to only marry rich old men who will hopefully leave her money when they pass away.
3 Grandma Walton (The Waltons)
The Waltons was exceptionally popular back in the day and was staple viewing for every household for more than thirty years. The family were liked because they were relatable, they weren't rich, they weren't beautiful and they all weren't the same age.
They were a rural and multi-generational family who had to work extremely hard to put food on the table. The best thing about the show was the grandparents, who lived in the same house as the rest of the family. However, it was Grandma Walton, otherwise known as Esther, that provided the show with a strict but loving matriarch with a good heart.
2 Anna Huxtable (The Cosby Show)
It is important to remember just how great The Cosby Show was and to not let it be smeared by the actions of the lead actor. The show was groundbreaking at the time and did its best to inform audiences of African-American history and civil rights.
In fact, the show's depiction of a stable and successful black family was intricate in breaking television barriers. However, the character development was also great, with the grandparents, played by Broadway legends, Earle Hyman and Clarice Taylor, a highlight. It was Taylor in particular who stood out, with her performance as Anna Huxtable everything you would ever want from a sweet-natured grandmother.
1 Livia Soprano (The Sopranos)
Livia Soprano is one of the best television villains of all time and is undoubtedly one of the scariest grandmothers on screen. It might not seem like a popular choice for the best grandmother of all time, but it is a creepy onscreen presence that makes her extremely memorable. Yes, Livia, played by the marvelous Nancy Marchand, was a standout character on the hugely popular TV show, The Sopranos, and was extremely terrifying, not to mention evil to the core.
In fact, in 2016, Rolling Stone ranked her as number three on the "Greatest TV Villains Of All Time" list. Even worse, series creator David Chase later claimed that the main inspiration for the character of Livia was his own mother. Nice.