Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TV Moms - Then and Now.

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Mother's Day is long behind us but there's no reason why we shouldn't give Mom a nod at any time of the year. After all, she has been on duty every day for us since we arrived in this world. Though the mothers listed below are not necessarily existent in the real world, they have forged the template for the idealized mother every mother aspires to be. So let's visit some perfect and not-so-perfect moms living in TV Land.


10 sitcom moms on TV motherhood, vacuuming in pearls, and keeping it real

Carol Brady was not going to wear an apron…. Everyone wanted to be a Partridge…. June Cleaver wore heels for a reason…. and “Mrs. C” knows how to get what she wants! In honor of Mothers everywhere, the Archive of American Television highlights quotes and clips from 10 interviewees best-known for their roles as iconic sitcom TV moms. 
Jane Wyatt on playing Margaret Anderson on Father Knows Best (theme)  I did understand wife and mother because I was a wife and mother. Margaret was much nicer than me. I can say that. But then she had all her lines written for her. I was much more independent than she was. She was a very nice person, I enjoyed playing her. And, she had a wonderful rapport with her children.
Barbara Billingsley on playing June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver (theme) Some people think she was namby-pamby.  But no, she used to get teed off with the children. She didn’t always refer to the father as far as punishing is concerned.  She was a loving, happy, stay-at-home mom, which I think is great.  I’m not for every woman having to be out in the workplace. I had two children at home and I was working.  But I think the one that stays home, if she’s doing a good job, it is the best job she’ll ever have, the most important. 
Marion Ross on playing 50s mom Marion “Mrs. C.” Cunningham on Happy Days (theme)
Between my childhood in Minnesota, and the 50’s, it’s easy for me to relate to the kind of woman who gets everything she wants, but in a very charming, feminine way, because it’s just easier! That’s kind of the way I was raised and that’s what I saw in my own childhood how women love their husbands and protects her husband from the children. “Be good to your father.”  He’s the head of the family, but he really isn’t, of course.  She is the head of the family. But that’s the artifice. This is all pre-women’s lib. Now, I still think it’s a kind of a handy way to get things done. We conceal our strength.
Florence Henderson on playing Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch (theme)I know there were certain things that I brought to the role. I think it was my experience as a young parent and the fact that I understood kids. I felt close to them. I was really the only one on the set that was married, who had children and an ongoing relationship… I would never wear an apron. I wanted to wear sexy nightgowns. I wanted to make her as human as possible. 
Mary Tyler Moore on playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (theme)
The sponsors had a good deal more to say back then.  We had to sleep in twin beds even though we were a married couple.  We had to wear pajamas with the little pockets and a shirt.  We were not allowed to say pregnant. You had to say “expecting a child” or “expecting a baby.” The big objection was the pants I wore in The Dick Van Dyke Show. I had seen too many housewives on television who were vacuuming in high heels and a floral printed frock. I said, wait a minute, that’s not the way it really is and I wanted to be real. I wanted to represent something of me. And I was married and a mother, and I’ve walked around barefoot as I still do, and wore pants. So I brought that to the show. 
Diahann Carroll on playing single-mother Julia Baker on Julia (theme) On television, Julia was the first non-conventional, educated, single mother who was outspoken. She dated. She raised her child… But no Black male was the argument. No father. No image for the children to relate to a father. That was a very loud criticism. It’s not that Julia and her son didn’t talk about situations. It may not have been his life, but we did talk about situations. Also, mother dated, and we brought the male into the house to say hello to the son. And, usually it was another professional Black that the young man was exposed to. So,  I think that as we look back, that we’re very proud of that, that piece of work. It represented a new thought. It represented something that was subject to a great deal of criticism.
Jean Stapleton on her take on Edith Bunker in All in the Family (theme)
Edith was the voice of reason and understanding, often contributing a unique perspective to a topic. She was decidedly less bigoted than Archie (Carroll O'Connor) but she was intensely loyal to her husband. She often stuck up for him and stood by him in his times of need. Admittedly, Edith was hardly the sharpest member of the family and could be more than a tad slow on the uptake, but she was certainly the happiest and wisest character on the show. In a conversation with Gloria (Sally Stuthers), Edith stated she favored capital punishment, "as long as it ain't too severe." Edith was best known for her shrill voice - her trademark "Oh, Aaaaaaaaaah-chie!" But she truly became popular among viewers because of her flighty demeanor. This character trait was the reason why Archie to call her "dingbat."
Shirley Jones on being TV music group mom Shirley Partridge on The Partridge FamilyShe was a working mom, but wanted her children to have values. The show business thing was secondary. And they made a point of that, because the first couple of shows, the pilot in particular, they were dealing very much with the show-business angle, “where are we going to perform? Let’s rehearse every day.” And finally [producer] Bob Claver said, “we’re going to tone down the show business angle. We’re going to make them real people. We’re going to have stories about teenage sweethearts in school, and we’re going to have stories about Shirley maybe dating one of the local guys. There will always be a song, but the show won’t be built around that performance.” I think that helped because it made us real people. And it also got every teenager in America thinking that they could do this. “We can go to school and we can have a band. And we can get a bus.” The sad part is that every once in a while, I would find some young 16, 15, 14-year-old, sitting on my lawn, just off a bus from Iowa or Michigan or someplace, saying, “I’ve come to be in The Partridge Family.  I can play the instrument.”  They’d literally run away from home. I just had to tell them the truth and say, “listen, it is a television show. We don’t have a band.  It’s all make-believe.” (theme)
Phylicia Rashad on playing Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show (theme)
She had a very normal relationship. She understood the difference in all their personalities. It was a very loving relationship, and there was discipline.  She was very, very patient, but very disciplined.  She understood the value of discipline.  And they, as parents, understood the importance of being on the same page with those people.
Patricia Heaton on playing Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond (theme)
Debra’s a horrible homemaker, that was what was so wonderful about her is that she couldn’t cook, and a lot of times with the kids it was just like “whatever.” I think there’s a whole movement in our country since Martha Stewart came on the scene of being a perfect and making every small daily task a work of art, which there’s some benefit to trying to lift the mundane out of its mundaneness and making it something because every act of care that you do for your family is actually sort of a sacred thing. But when you’re packing a lunch every morning, you’re not going to cut the sandwich into smiley shapes and starfish, you just throw in that prepackaged crap in their bag and stick it in their backpack. So, I think she tried, but she was like every mom that has it up to here with everything. …But I think she was a good mother, yeah,definitely.    Re-blogged from the Archive of American Television 
Endora - "Bewitched"
Mom to cute, nose-wiggling witch, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), Endora cherishes her daughter and granddaughter. Despite this love, she is always ready to cause trouble for Samantha's husband, Darrin, which inevitably complicates her own daughter's life. When not trying to banish Darrin from the planet Earth, she can't be bothered to even refer to him by name, instead favoring insults like "Dimwin," "Durward" or "Dustbin.It's no wonder the original Deadwin - er, Darrin (Dick York) - left "Bewitched" after Season 5 and was magically replaced with a very similar-looking actor (Dick Sargent). Not that Endora (Agnes Moorehead) would've known the difference.
Mama - "Mama's Family"
Whether she was in a "Carol Burnett Show" sketch or raising hell on her own half-hour spin-off, Thelma-Mae "Mama" Crowley Harper wasn't your stereotypical warm, nurturing mom. The blue-haired, beer-drinking crank (Vicky Lawrence) could possibly be the worst TV mom in history. She never had a kind word to say. In fact, she reserved most of her vocabulary for her favorite pastimes: bickering, tirades, and withering putdowns of her children, Ellen (Betty White), Eunice (Carol Burnett), and Vinton (Ken Berry). Of course, with a brood as buffoonish and whiny as hers, can you blame her?
Peggy Bundy - "Married…With Children"
You know you're pretty awful when you ask your daughter, "Was I a bad mother?" and her response is "I don't know, whose mother are you?" Perhaps if Peg Bundy (Katey Sagal) had spent a little more quality time with Kelly (Christina Applegate) and Bud (David Faustino) and less with Oprah and a box of bon-bons, she'd rank among super-moms Carol Brady and Shirley Partridge instead of alongside Lucille Bluth and Livia Soprano in the Bad TV Moms Hall of Fame.
Estelle Costanza - "Seinfeld"
You could have a worse mother than Estelle Costanza (played brilliantly by Estelle Harris), mom to "Seinfeld's" George Costanza (Jason Alexander), but it'd be mighty difficult. She is shrill, overbearing, and humiliating -- and those are her nicer qualities. She's also constantly bickering with husband Frank (Jerry Stiller), nagging son George, and flirting with Jerry's neighbor, Kramer (Michael Richards). George blames her for all his neuroses, a theory we can't exactly disprove.
Livia Soprano - "The Sopranos"
No matter how strained your relationship with your mother might be, odds are she's never taken a hit out on you (and if she has, we apologize for bringing it up). But that's what Livia Soprano (Nancy Marchand) tried to get her brother-in-law, Junior (Dominic Chianese), to do: whack her only son, Tony (James Gandolfini). He should have never suggested that "retirement community." Is that any way to treat your madre? Fuggetaboutit.
Marie Barone - "Everybody Loves Raymond"
With Marie Barone (Doris Roberts), you get a two-for-one deal: a horrible mother and an even worse mother-in-law. Intrusive, controlling, manipulative and over-nurturing - at least with Raymond - she is a housewife who excels in cooking, cleaning, and other things dealing with keeping a good home and family. To her kids, she can be sweet and nurturing as well as incredibly disparaging all in one breath. She often pits younger brother Ray (Ray Romano) against older brother Robert (Brad Garrett), traumatizing the latter for life. To daughter-in-law Debra (Patricia Heaton), her transparently kind gestures barely mask the evil, manipulative, hypercritical nature lurking just beneath the surface. Sadly, for Debra, Marie and her husband Frank live across the street.
  Lucille Bluth - Arrested Development
Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) not only manipulated funds from her family's real-estate firm to maintain a pampered lifestyle, she manipulated her family too. The boozing pill-popper certainly wreaked havoc on children Michael (Jason Bateman), Gob (Will Arnett), and Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), but what she did to her youngest son - poor, clinging Buster (Tony Hale) - seemed most devastating. When Buster finally loosened the apron strings the tiniest bit, he ended up with a woman his own mother's age, also named Lucille. That's some serious damage.
 Evelyn Harper - "Two and a Half Men"
You know a mother's bad when her sons call her the "devil" and program her phone number into speed-dial as 666. Such is the fate of Evelyn Harper (Holland Taylor). The over-sexed, overbearing mother of Charlie (Charlie Sheen) and Alan (John Cryer) is so self-centered they avoid her at any cost. Only the worst mother ever could spin such homilies as "I think God gives us children so death won't come as such a disappointment."
All the Women on "Desperate Housewives"
There must be something in the water on Wisteria Lane. Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross) kicked her gay son out of the house and kind of stole her daughter's baby. Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) used her teenage daughter as an emotional crutch and tried to trap her into staying at home when it was time for her to spread her wings. Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) found parenting so overwhelming she got hopped up on her sons' ADHD meds. Gaby Solis (Eva Longoria Parker) struggles constantly with the fact that her two overweight daughters, neither older than six, aren't the models she herself once was. And Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) abandoned her son Travers for his "own good." Yeah, right. "The Supernanny" would have a field day with these very "Desperate Housewives."   Reblogged from Yahoo! TV Blog.
          Mrs Brown's Boys
 The Mammy
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