Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The TV Super Mom vs. The TV Anti-Mom

You wake up at a ridiculously early hour and pop right out of bed, fully awake. You get ready, get your kids ready for school, and then make breakfast for the whole family. Once you send everyone off with perfect little lunches, you head to work. You win a few cases, cure a few patients or cover a few award-winning news stories. You pretty much save the world. Then you go home, cook a meal fit for Food Network, spend some time with your family, and teach a few valuable life lessons along the way. Then, after reading a few pages of a book and kissing your darling husband goodnight, you go to bed, not at all tired considering everything you’ve tackled that day.

Piece of cake, right? Well, if you were a working mom on a TV sitcom in the 80's and 90's, it was
that easy. Case in point: Clair Huxtable. She was a high-powered lawyer, married to a well-loved doctor, raised 5 happy, healthy kids, and always had things under control. She never really even got mad, for goodness sake. She just spoke calmly and evenly, and won every argument without raising her voice. Totally realistic, right?

And she’s not the only Super Mom we grew up with on TV. What about Maggie Seaver? Loving mom to Carol, Mike, Ben, sometimes Luke (the young Leo, hot stuff) and later Chrissy. The youngest Seaver child just popped out one day halfway through the series, magically grew up overnight, and poof! everything was back to normal. Maggie had a happy family, blossoming career and no real drama.

If you look back, those awesomely 80's shows we all know and love were riddled with Super Moms (and Dads—I’m looking at you, Danny Tanner) who could juggle careers, family, chores and big life lessons without even batting an eye. Sure, it’s a nice idea, but is it realistic? Not really. At least not now. So it’s no wonder that the days of these miraculous mothers are long gone.

And that’s exactly the point of The Hollywood Reporter’s recent article “The Rise of TV’s Anti-Mom”. Today’s TV moms are as real as it gets. Tired, struggling, neurotic, depressed, anxious, obsessive. Sure, they’re not pretty traits on paper, but they’re real and much easier to relate to. And in today’s society, that’s what counts. Working moms, and heck, even stay-at-home moms, don’t always have it all together, especially these days. TV is a reflection of our culture, so it’s only natural that TV moms feel the real pressures and stresses that real women face every single day.

Women no longer want to look up to fictional moms who do everything perfectly, setting up an image that’s impossible to achieve. They want to see characters who have faults, fears and pressures, just like them. For example, remember when Pam (Beasley) Halpert was so exhausted from late nights with baby CeCe that she fell asleep at her desk? Haven’t we all been there before?

Or what about Claire Dunphy who, despite being a stay-at-home mom, has her hands full all the time with her family's high jinks and hilarity. Remember when she tried to show off her fabulous mustache-wearing husband and Jager-covered kids to impress her old coworker? Or when she fell asleep instead of getting Phil his iPad? Or what about the romantic Valentine's Day role-playing game that went horribly and embarrassingly wrong? The list goes on and on, and honestly it makes me laugh even thinking about them. But they're real-life situations and real-life feelings that today’s women can identify with, and that’s what makes for good TV.

So what do you think, Working Girls? Do you miss the days of 80's and 90's Super Moms? Or do you appreciate today’s real-life Anti-Moms? Do you think today's shows portray women in a negative light? Was it okay for woman to try to be perfect and have it all, like Clair Huxtable and Maggie Seaver? Let’s hear what you think!


Amy said...

As unrealistic as it was, I miss the 80s super moms like Claire Huxtable!

Corporate Chickee said...

I think we secretly miss the super moms because we all still wish we could be THAT put together all of the time :)

But... today's new anti-mom is hilarious and makes us laugh when our days aren't quite perfect! Don't forget about New Christine... she's quite the anti-mom, and will make any other real-life mom feel like a super mom! :)

Miss Jane said...

I love laughing and so the new TV anti-mom is just something that I can relate to. It makes me have a positive outlook to life, otherwise... with what we have to put up with everyday, a person could go nuts.

Meghan said...

As soon as I started reading this, I immediately thought of Claire from Modern Family, and you hit all of her high points. I don't miss the days of the 80's and 90's moms. I'm not a mom, but even without having kids I sometimes like to relate to people who are not so put together. It makes me feel less bad when I find sticky sangria on the counter from Friday or forget to turn in a paper on time for grad school.

Cass said...

My favorite has always been Roseanne Connor. She was realistic, and didn't care if people thought she wasn't perfect.

I do remember an episode where she met all those perfect TV moms though, very funny.

Terri said...

What a fun post. I loved those old shows, maybe more as an escape from reality into a fantasy world for 30 min.

Kamryn Adams said...

Between the super-mom and the anti-mom is the MAXImom....doing everything (like the super) the best damn way I can fit it in(like the anti) without feeling inadequate.

Pretty Unfamous said...

I am ALWAYS going to appreciate the BIGGEST anti-mom the most: Roseanne Connor. She exemplified how difficult (and real) it can be to be a mom in today's day and age--even if the show IS 20 years old!

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