When we have kids, we often look to other mothers to compare how we’re raising our kids. Mostly, it’s to feel better about screwing ours up less than the little weirdo licking the goat-food dispenser at the petting zoo (apologies if that was your kid). We even compare ourselves to our own mothers, but for the same reasons. We either want to feel really good about ourselves or really bad. Another reason we constantly look to other mothers, though? To find our people — the ones who won’t judge us when we’re all aboard the hot mess express. And while we can’t exactly hang with them in real life, certain TV moms perfectly personify the kind of parent we want in our inner circle.
Of course, all sorts of moms make the television world go ‘round. And, for some parents, the TV moms who stick out are the put-together Type As of yore, like Harriet from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet or June Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver. Then there’s the rest of us, who relate to the *other* TV moms way more: the Lorelai Gilmores of the group. They aren’t perfect. In fact, sometimes they’re messy AF… just like us. They’re the ones we want to sit in the back of school meetings with, gossiping. Or get wine-drunk with while watching The Bachelor.
So, here’s to those TV moms — the slightly neurotic, somewhat dysfunctional, wildly relatable mothers of modern television.
1. Beth Pearson, This Is Us
Beth Pearson has been stealing scenes since day one of NBC’s popular tearjerking drama This Is Us. She’s smart as hell, funny, and never afraid to stand her ground when something matters to her. Beth would be the gut-check mom of any friend group. Not sure if your cardigan makes you look like Mrs. Doubtfire? Ask Beth. Need someone to give it to you straight when your kid is being a total turd? Ask Beth. She’s honest and direct but manages to still soften the blow.
2. Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
Lorelai Gilmore showed up to Rory’s first day at a prestigious prep school in cut-offs and cowgirl boots, dated her daughter’s teacher, and told off many school officials (among others). She’s a hard-working businesswoman with an unruly personal life who doesn’t always make the soundest decisions. But she definitely knows where to find the good coffee on campus, which she’ll sip with you while quipping back and forth at the speed of light.
3. Sophia Petrillo, Golden Girls
Ah, Sophia — the OG TV mom we want to get wine drunk with. Who doesn’t dream of the day when they can dole out a metric ton of payback upon their children for not sleeping as babies, throwing tantrums as toddlers, being straight-up annoying as grade-schoolers, and making us sprinkle our ice cream with Xanax as teenagers? When we’re old bags, we’re moving in with our by-then-adult heathens to dispense 24-hour shade, give opinions (unsolicited and often), eat all their cheesecake, and refuse to die. Their sweat and tears will be our lifeblood until the debt is paid.
4. Bow Johnson, Black-ish
Black-ish matriarch Bow is amazing, dammit. Viewers have witnessed this sitcom mom face racial stereotypes at work and in her own home. She’s given birth to and cared for five children (six if you count her husband, Andre) while juggling a successful career — as a frickin’ doctor! But, ya know, she’s also spicy. She’s the kind of mom you tag in problematic Facebook posts so you can tag-team idiots together.
5. Jen Harding, Dead to Me
There’s the strong, stoic widow, and there’s the sobbing, hysterical widow. Rarely do you see an angry widow, though, which is a shame since anger is entirely valid during the grieving process. Jen is an angry widow, and from a plethora of f-bombs to rage metal, there’s a lot to love within that emotion. You may not be able to b*tch about your spouses together, but you can certainly gossip about literally everything and everyone else while drinking orange wine by the firepit.
6. Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Find me a more perfect specimen whom we will never measure up against. Tami Taylor has the best Texas mom name on the planet and blowouts for days (we’d trade in our eye-teeth for that hair). A surrogate mama to about half of the Dillon Panthers, she’s the mom you split a pitcher of margaritas with while discussing your partners’ nice butts and terrible parenting choices. Clear alcohol. Full can of hairspray. Can’t lose.
7. Cookie Lyon, Empire
TBH, our love for Loretha “Cookie” Lyon is rivaled only by our intimidation. The queen of Empire, she doesn’t play. If you’re going to cross Cookie, you better be ready for a reckoning — you can always count on her to keep it really real. Hanging with this Lyon would probably involve playing “dress up” in her closet while she hollers at her kids to keep it down so Mommy and her friends can hear themselves drink. Uh, think.
8. Andrea Warren, I’m Sorry
You know the part of you that always laughs at inappropriate jokes? Or, better yet, makes inappropriate jokes — typically somewhere wholly inappropriate, like school pickup? Meet your inner Andrea Warren: a woman who does not have her sh*t together, is hilariously immature at times, would totally toss a bucket of fried chicken tits on the table for dinner tonight, and who might just be the version of ourselves we like the most.
9. Miranda Bailey, Grey’s Anatomy
Dr. Miranda Bailey’s mothering may not be the main focus of Grey’s, but we’ve all seen enough of it to know she’s the mom you really want by your side when life goes sideways. The only thing sharper than her scalpel? Her eyes when she’s cutting them at someone. One sideways look from Miranda Bailey would stop anyone in their tracks. And if that’s not something to put at the top of a mom friend resume, we don’t know what is.
10. Anne Carlson, Workin’ Moms
Anne went from a home practice to working for a university and then writing her own book. And yet, somehow, she’s still kind of a mess. You can screw up in front of her without being judged… oh, who are we kidding? She’ll probably judge you first, but it’ll be something you’ll laugh at together later. Plus, if you get her relaxed enough, she’ll help you diagnose your ex.
11. Sam Fox, Better Things
Raising three kids and caring for a mom as a single woman working full-time is no small feat. Sam will be the friend who may not show up to every party or event, but will always be there when you need her most. And, when she does show up, she’ll be her totally unfiltered self, ready to dig and dish together. Did we mention she can throw down in the kitchen, too?
12. Moira Rose, Schitt’s Creek
Moira Rose can turn anyone’s problem into her inconvenience, and while that seems like it would be a bad thing, it’s oddly endearing. Besides, she gets so lost in her ordeals that she’s aloof to anyone else’s issues. In other words, you’re entirely safe to get silly and spill the beans to Moira. By her second glass, she will have made it into her own problem, and by the third glass, your problem won’t exist anymore.
13. Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
We know, we know — she has dragons, not babies. But Khaleesi is at least a really good metaphor for what we’ll be like if some little mouth-breather on the playground is mean to our kid. Someone is rude to her dragons? She burns down their whole damn town and then rides her majestic-ass horse over the ashes. Here for it. Don’t f*ck with our babies; we will barbecue you.
Basically, we like our TV moms like we like our toddlers: messy and not really doing what they’re supposed to do, but lovable in spite of it all.
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