It used to be that being a sitcom mom was easy: On Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best, all the moms had to do was look nice in aprons and pearls, bake tasty pies and tuck the kids into bed at night. Over time, though, it’s gotten a lot tougher and more complicated to be a good sitcom mom, to successfully raise kids while remaining likable and entertaining for the audience. Here, then, are a few examples of ways to be a great sitcom mom.
Have an impressive job that takes up very little of your time.
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In real life, being a lawyer or a TV reporter or an architect is incredibly time-consuming, and can take a serious toll on one’s ability to raise children. But on sitcoms, jobs tend to be demanding only when it’s called for by the plot, and recede into the background whenever they’re not relevant. So working sitcom moms can often help provide for their families while simultaneously being present for any hilarious misunderstandings and emotional heart-to-hearts.
See: Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Family Ties
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Sitcom moms are by nature hyper-capable, so raising kids alone isn’t much of a big deal. Somehow there are always supportive and/or wacky neighbors, siblings, grandparents and friends around to help with childcare, and enough money to get by with only minimal hardship. Divorced sitcom moms also get to engage in plenty of dating shenanigans and role-reversal when their teenage kids catch them angling for some nookie.
See: The New Adventures of Old Christine, One Day at a Time, Reba, Kate and Allie
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Families blend pretty smoothly on sitcoms, as evidenced by the gold-standard Brady Bunch
. Step-siblings tend to bicker only as often as biological ones, and stepmoms are able to bond with their stepkids as easily as if they were actually related. If they’re good sitcom moms to their own kids, imagine how great they can be with someone else’s kids to raise, too.
See: The Brady Bunch, Step by Step, Drake & Josh
Don’t take no guff.
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Being a sitcom mom isn’t all about cooking dinner and giving out hugs; sometimes sitcom kids need a little discipline. Moms who can dish out one-liners while keeping their little brats in line get to have the best of both worlds: They’re likeable, and they’re in charge. And once the kids are properly chastised, then usually there ends up being time to cook dinner after all.
See: Roseanne, Grace Under Fire, Everybody Hates Chris, Malcolm in the Middle
Hire some help.
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Even the most perfect of sitcom moms sometimes gets overwhelmed, and that’s when it’s time to employ a helpful housekeeper, nanny or butler to take a bit of the load off. As a bonus, these domestics often have no lives of their own, and are perfectly suited to help sitcom kids with any problems that may arise, or just provide a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes they become so ingrained in the family life that they become actual members of the family.
See: Mr. Belvedere, Who’s the Boss?, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Charles in Charge
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On sitcoms, grief is generally confined to one or two very special episodes, so a dead mother isn’t too traumatic. And the lack of a maternal figure seems to generate more laughs and learning experiences than neuroses and long-term dysfunction. Plus, dead mothers are always remembered fondly.
See: Full House, My Two Dads, Diff’rent Strokes, My Three Sons