Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Top 10 Single TV Moms

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Since Mother's Day was this past Sunday, I thought that it would be nice to take a look at some great television moms. And, not just any moms, specifically single moms on TV. There are quite a few out there, and in order to excel, they have to work much harder than mothers with more of a support system. I had a fun time thinking of single mothers, and then choosing which ones to feature today. Since I undoubtedly missed some candidates, feel free to suggest other fabulous single moms!

10. Millicent Torkelson, The Torkelsons / Almost Home. Raising five children (three in the second series) is a great deal of work for any parent. Millicent works hard to give her family what they need, and takes on the odd job here and there to make ends meet. She tries to be creative about their issues (like altering thrift store dresses, using recycled bottles to serve bottled water at a party, etc.), and is rather proud to be able to make it on her own (she was shocked that the community donated a box of canned goods to her family). While they do have a boarder to help with expenses, and they later move across the country (Pyramid Corners, Oklahoma to Seattle, Washington!) and move in with another family to keep things going. While the kids weren't in love with their situation, they appreciated everything that their mother did for them, time and time again.
9. Lisa Cuddy, House. Now a mother to Rachel, Cuddy tried for a while to have her own child through IVF, with donor sperm. Then, she tried to adopt with unsuccessful results for a while. Finally, she got Rachel, and she has been an overly caring mother to her. When Social Services came to inspect, Cuddy was so afraid that she'd lose custody because of an old diaper that hadn't been disposed of. Cuddy genuinely cares about her daughter's health and well-being, and despite having such a high-profile job, still makes a lot of time to spend with Rachel, though she does have a part-time caretaker for the toddler.

8. Christine Campbell, The New Adventures of Old Christine. Though she was technically married to her best friend, Barb, in the fourth season, (to keep her in the country) Christine was a singe parent throughout the show. She tried hard, making sure her child went to a good school, that the school was diverse, and that she wrote down everything that might help her son through life. She even volunteered for multiple programs at the school, though she sometimes had to push her ex-husband or her brother to fulfill those obligations if she got slammed at work. 
7. Angela Bower, Who's the Boss? The situation here is a bit different. Though Angela does have her mother living with her, and she hires a live-in male housekeeper, she is still a single mother to Jonathan. Parenting isn't the biggest topic in this series, but Jonathan has his share of issues that Angela must deal with... stolen hubcaps, being bullied, trying to get a girlfriend, etc. Luckily, when Angela knows that she isn't the best person to deal with her son's troubles, she has Tony there to help her out and lend a manly ear to whatever is going on.
6. Jackie Harris, Roseanne. Jackie was a doting mother to little Andy. She was paranoid about what he'd eat and how he'd play, which was a big change from the way her sister raised her own kids. Jackie wanted Andy to have a good life, and that even meant breastfeeding at the altar. But, the marriage (to Andy's father) didn't last long, and Jackie went back to being a single mother, who continued to pay much closer attention to her child than anyone else paid to theirs on that show (with perhaps the exception of David & Darlene's little Harris, since she was so premature).
5.  Amy Juergens, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Of all the women on my list, this one is the hardest to argue for, since she has a great support system when you look at it. Peers at school found a daycare for her son, a job for Amy, and throw her a shower. Her family provides her with a car, helps her with household chores, and even gives her the opportunity of a lifetime to attend a summer music camp - by watching her son while she's away for several weeks. Nonetheless, Amy started the ninth grade pregnant, and conceived during her very first intercourse, so she definitely faces a difficult life ahead of her, as her child will practically be reading when she starts college!

4. Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown. It would be wrong not to include Murphy Brown, as she made such strides for single mothers both on and off the screen. While it was heavily criticized for a woman to willingly take on becoming a single parent (perhaps you remember Dan Quayle's issues with Murphy Brown?), Murphy did it in stride. She chaperoned field trips, hunted down the hot Christmas toy, stressed over how to talk to her son about death, and even dealt with having cancer while being a single mother.
3. Ms. Tonitini, The Weekenders. Tito's mom doesn't have a first name from what I can remember. Her ex-husband lives on the other side of the country, and only appears once throughout the run of the series. She has some very great characteristics for single motherhood... she's really into cooking healthy meals (tofu and seaweed often appear in their household), she has a very open relationship with Tino (it's clear that she knows a lot about his past problems, as she finishes sentences for him when he tells stories), and she gives very sensible advice without sounding overbearing and matronly. While she's not a major character, she appears frequently, and is always saying or doing something interesting.
2. Reba Hart, Reba. She is perhaps one of the most memorable single moms out there. It's not a bed of roses for her, as she deals with her oldest daughter's teenage pregnancy immediately after getting left by her husband for a younger woman, but she tries. Nobody knows how bad things are (she takes out a second mortgage on the house that nobody knows about for a while), and she eventually takes a job working for her ex-husband before starting a business with her son-in-law. While parenting Jake isn't a problem often, Reba often has to deal with helping Cheyenne to make good decisions and steering Kyra in the right direction. And, she does this all while her ex-husband's new wife continually pops in on her and her family.
1. Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls. Clearly, Lorelai is a wonderful single mother. She left home as a teen mom, and made her entire life out of nothing. Her wealthy parents offered her support, but she chose to ignore them completely for many years. Instead, Lorelai worked as a maid while she a Rory lived in a small guest house. She eventually bought a jeep and a house, and eventually went to night school, got a degree, and opened an inn. Rory is delightfully well-adjusted, an ambitious academic, and very cautious in all of her endeavors. The relationship that Lorelai and Rory share is enviable in many ways - from hanging out on weekends watching movies to sharing bits of personal experiences to just being a phone call away at all times. Lorelai Gilmore, winner!

For those who missed this post when it was first published, my apologies. It was one of the many lost in Blogger's maintenance problems. I was waiting it out for Blogger to correct the problem, but it's been a week and I'm just going to move on.
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