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Expanding What Motherhood Looks Like, One TV Show at a Time

How Lucy Ricardo, Clair Huxtable, and Chilli (yes, from “Bluey”) have shaped the way we see and experience motherhood.

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Once upon a time, June Cleaver was the most visible example on TV of how to be a mother. It's not hard to see how that depiction left the vast majority of moms—i.e. non-white moms, working moms, single moms, and moms who hated cooking dinner—feeling unseen.

Today, there are as many representations of motherhood on screen as there are, well, TV moms. In honor of Mother’s Day, we salute every one of them for showing the world that it’s possible to parent in poignant, imperfect, and hilarious ways.

Image by Archive Photos / Stringer / Getty Images

Tami Taylor, Mother of Texas

Sean O'Neal
Texas Monthly

Listen, y’all: Connie Britton’s tough yet compassionate Friday Night Lights character remains one of our most inspirational depictions of Texas womanhood.

Pose and the Importance of Adopted Motherhood

Princess Weekes
The Mary Sue

On television, there are many depictions of motherhood—good, bad, and everything in between—but I want to celebrate someone that I think is one of television’s best mothers: Blanca Evangelista from the FX series Pose.

I Used To Think The Mom On ‘Boy Meets World’ Was Invisible—But I Was Wrong

De Elizabeth

In our real lives, our moms also existed mostly as supporting characters, secondary to our school or relationship dramas, appearing only when we needed a ride, someone to sign a permission slip, or occasionally, a hug. Thinking of them as fully formed humans with their own dreams and passions would never have crossed our minds.

The Show That Made Single Motherhood Into Art

Sophie Gilbert
The Atlantic

Over five seasons of television, Pamela Adlon’s FX series, Better Things, has been a tribute to keeping on when you can’t anymore, and to all the people—many of them women—who carry their families because no one else will.