Gang of Five

Five awesome TV mums

by Jess Alice , October 15, 20132 Comments


In our list series, ‘Gang of Five’, we make a list of five things related to … whatever we like. Online Editorial Assistant Jessica Alice shares her favourite TV mums. Spoilers ahead!

Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

As mother of the slayer (and Dawn, I guess?), Kristine Sutherland’s Joyce Summers had a bumpy ride for the first few seasons. She had a seemingly delinquent kid who burned down school buildings and got into bloody fights. Despite all these challenges, she is one of the most sympathetic and bad-arse characters in the series. In ‘School Hard’ (s02e03) she threatens Spike with an axe, Ripley-style (‘Get the hell away from my daughter!’). And in everyone’s favourite Ethan Rayne episode ‘Band Candy’ (s03e06), Joyce and Giles are the hottest, coolest couple after eating candy laced with magic (or something) causing them to act like rebellious teenagers. Joyce is also a museum curator, which is one hella cool job that makes house parties pretty spooky. Joyce’s last episode ‘The Body’ (s05e15) has to go down as one of the saddest episodes in television history. Prepare the tissues.

Tie: Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos) and Cheryl West (Outrageous Fortune)

Controversial! New Zealand’s crime family/comedy/drama show Outrageous Fortune will never make it into the holy TV canon that The Sopranos basically invented, but both offered up kick-arse, no-nonsense matriarchs.

Robyn Malcolm’s Cheryl West is mother to Pascalle, Lorette, Van and Jethro. Malcolm is beloved in NZ and has won TV Guide’s best actress six years running for the role, as well as NZ’s sexiest woman (LOL?) award in 2007. Cheryl owns an underwear company called Hoochie Mama, which is really just a hilarious business name.

carmelaEdie Falco’s Carmela Soprano, mother to Anthony Jr. and Meadow, is a source of legitimacy for the family but proves she’s got mobster-wife game when it’s required. Despite all the crap that comes with being a woman in an uber-patriarchal organisation, Carmela always holds her own. She also has several intense romantic almost-encounters with her priest, a painter-decorator and her husband’s ‘workmate’ Furio. Also EDIE FREAKIN’ FALCO.

Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)

Jessica Walter’s Lucille Bluth is mother to Gob, Michael and Buster, and adoptive mother to Lindsay and Hel-loh (‘Annyong’). This selection of her best quotes speaks for itself:

Lucille: Get me a vodka rocks.
Michael: Mom, it’s breakfast.
Lucille: And a piece of toast.

Buster: Mother, have you seen my rubber hand?
Lucille: It’s in the dishwasher. Your father and I were using it for something.

Lucille: I’ve been drinking since before you were born. So if alcohol is the reason I’m here, I got news for you, bub: it’s the only reason you’re here too.

[George Sr. & Lucille are in different cars. They almost crash]
George Sr.: Up yours, granny!
Lucille: You couldn’t handle it!

Lucille: Let me tell you something, sweetie. We may pick on each other, get into little scrapes, call each other names and occasionally steal from each other, but that’s because we are family.

Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

Lauren Graham’s Lorelai is a quirky and witty single parent raising a quirky and witty teenage daughter, Rory. Together they are quirky and witty and have potentially the fastest dialogue in all of TV land. Lorelai often struggles with the dilemmas of parenthood: being either too strict or too much of a BFF to Rory, attending her own needs too much or not enough, and trying to get the dating thing right. Making mistakes is often what Gilmore Girls is all about, and the characters always come out of situations a little wiser. From the beginning of the series Lorelai made the ultimate sacrifice for her daughter: committing to Friday night dinners with her rich, judgemental parents so that Rory can go to a fancy school. She also feels very strongly about coffee.

monasimpsonMona Simpson (The Simpsons) with honourable mention to Marge Simpson.

Mona is mother to Homer Simpson and was voiced by several different actors including Her Majesty Glenn Close. Mona was a 1960s housewife until she saw Joe Namth’s long flowing hair at the Super Bowl and became a political activist. She was constantly on the run from the law after destroying the biological warfare experiments in Monty Burns’ laboratory. Not only was she a righteous babe, she was kind-hearted, too. She was only identified from the incident because she stopped to help a fallen Burns. Mona is a recurring character throughout many seasons of The Simpsons, with ‘Mother Simpson’ (s07e08) widely considered one of the most touching episodes of all time. Mona reunites with Homer, but is soon tracked down by Burns and the FBI. She has to leave Homer once again, and the episode finishes with Homer sitting on his car, looking up at the stars.


  • James Sherwood

    Good choices. How about Sofia Vergara who plays Gloria in Modern Family (mucho impresionante, no?)

    Do you have a list for your favourite female TV drama protagonists? Mine would be Claire Danes from Homeland, Surrane Jones, Lesley Sharp and Amelia Bullmore from Scott and Bailey, Amanda Burton, the first Pathologist in Silent Witness, and Alex Kinston as River Song in Dr Who.


  • Maggie

    Great list Jessica, very left field! I would put as number one Lois from Malcolm in the Middle. Tough, scary, crazy – but always there to be in full battle with her brood. LOVE her. (Plus she is married to Hal who can rollerskate like a king).


Chris Gordon

The Readings Prize Shortlist Showdown: Chris Gordon defends Last Day in the Dynamite Factory

At our recent Readings Prize Shortlist Showdown event, six writers gave a speech in defence of the book they believed most deserves to win the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Readings Events Manager Chris Gordon spoke in praise of Annah Faulkner’s novel Last Day in the Dynamite Factory. Read more »


Michaela McGuire

The Readings Prize Shortlist Showdown: Michaela McGuire defends Hot Little Hands

At our recent Readings Prize Shortlist Showdown event, six writers gave a speech in defense of the book they believed most deserves to win the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Writer and Emerging Writers’ Festival Director Michaela McGuire spoke in praise of Abigail Ulman’s short story collection, Hot Little Hands. Read more »


Kill Your Darlings

What We’re Reading: Readings staff share their September picks

Looking for a book recommendation? Staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month. Read more »


Rebecca Shaw

Playing It Straight: On queer actors, queer characters, and ‘bravery’

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an unwelcome trend reappearing; one I had hoped was long dead and buried, along with frosted tips. It is the discussion around whether queer actors can play heterosexual characters. Read more »


Rebecca Shaw

Girl Gang: The value of female friendship

For two years I was the only girl in my class, along with four boys. Perhaps this would have been some kind of fantastic Lynx-filled utopia for a boy-crazy pre-teen girl, but for someone who was just beginning to figure out that she didn’t like boys in the same way other girls seemed to, it wasn’t what you could call ideal. Read more »


Rebecca Shaw

Written On the Body: Fat women and public shaming

The policing and subsequent shaming of women’s bodies is not unique to famous women. It happens to all women. Feeling entitled to denigrate fat bodies, and fat women’s bodies in particular, is one of the last bastions of socially acceptable discrimination. Read more »


Anwen Crawford

Throne Of Blood: Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth

For more than four centuries, we have found versions of ourselves in Shakespeare’s plays precisely because his characters are so human in their flaws and follies. At the same time, the arc of these characters’ stories unfolds somewhere above and beyond us, in the realm of grand tragedy or grand comedy, or both. Read more »


Anwen Crawford

Memorable Chills: Edgerton’s Gift

The Gift is Australian actor Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut — he also wrote, produced, and stars in it — and it bodes well for Edgerton’s directing career. A psychological thriller, The Gift is efficiently and quite memorably chilling, at least for the first half. Read more »


Joanna Di Mattia

Escaping The Wolfpack: Inside and outside the screen

The Wolfpack introduces us to the six Angulo brothers, who were kept virtual prisoners for 14 years in their Lower East Side apartment. More than a captivity narrative, this is a film about the influence of cameras and screens, and the transfixing, liberating power of cinema. Read more »


Alexis Drevikovsky

Have You Ever Felt Like This: Going Round the Twist again

Working from home one day, I took my lunchbreak away from my laptop and flicked idly through the TV channels, hoping for a midday movie with Reese Witherspoon or, even better, an old episode of Cheers. What I found was beyond my wildest dreams. I excitedly texted my mate Alison: Round the Twist is on ABC3! Read more »


Jane Hone

How the Golden Age of Television Brought Us Back Together

I recently heard someone say that it used to be that at 6pm, everyone would sit down to watch The Cosby Show. It seemed at once a quaint and almost sci-fi notion ­– millions of people watching the same show at the same time. How things have changed. Read more »

glitch abc tv

Stephanie Van Schilt

A Glitch in the System: The ABC’s undead gamble

In one gasping breath, Glitch shows that the ABC is stumbling towards something beloved by TV audiences the world over, but that regularly eludes the Australian and film and TV industry: genre. And not just any genre, but the ‘return-from-the-dead’ zombie-style genre. Read more »


Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Straight White Men - Public Theatre - Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Jane Howard

Unbearable Whiteness: Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men

Though I am delighted to see Young Jean Lee gain traction in Australia, a work by playwright who is a woman of colour should not be such a rare occurrence; nor should this only come in the form of a play that blends effortlessly into the fabric of the work that is programmed around it. Read more »


Jane Howard

Putting Words In People’s Mouths: Performing the unseen, speaking the unknown

‘Do you ever get the feeling someone is putting words in your mouth?’ A performer asks an audience member in the front row. ‘Say yes.’
‘Yes,’ comes the reply.
This theme ran through multiple shows at Edinburgh Fringe this year, where occasionally audience members, but more often performers, were asked to perform scripts sight unseen. Read more »


Jane Howard

The Impenetrable City: Getting lost at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

I just saw a one-on-one performance piece that ended in my bursting into tears and the artist sitting with me and holding my hands in hers for maybe ten, maybe fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. We had a shared piece of history, and her work was delicate and took me by surprise, and I have a cold, and I am homesick, and I don’t know why I’m in Edinburgh, and I’ve cried a lot, and now I’m in a gallery because I couldn’t face another show. Read more »