If you think about it, motherhood itself is pretty hilarious. There’s gross-out humor (diapers, sick kids). There are pratfalls and slapstick (tripping over toys, chasing after your children). There’s even verbal sparring, monologues and insult humor (probably like 80 percent of your everyday conversation with your kids.) No wonder family-themed sitcoms have done so well over the years. There’s just so much material out there, so many weird characters and different parenting methods to explore. And yet, there’s something that brings all viewers of these shows together, a shared experience. Parenting-related humor is pretty universal. Everyone gets the childbirth jokes and the “my kid never calls” jokes. And everyone laughs and feels a bit better about their own mothering.
And so, in honor of Mother’s Day, and the shared struggles and victories that come with motherhood, we’ve put together our list of the 10 funniest TV moms ever. Read on to see our picks and to relive some of the most laugh-out-loud mom-inspired moments from your favorite shows.
She’s the matriarch of the Bluth family and yet you get the sense that she has a very superficial view of what motherhood actually is. Lucille isn’t the only one on this list with grown children, but she may be the only one who views her kids as little more than walking, talking accessories for her various schemes and social gatherings. So far, in Arrested Development’s three-season run, Lucille’s role hasn’t ventured far from her money-obsessed, self-absorbed brand of mothering. Maybe, we’ll get a chance to see why in the long-awaited, upcoming fourth season. And maybe we’ll see Lucille evolve into a warmer mother to her children. Just kidding. She’s awful: In the clip above, Lucille drunkenly adopts another kid just to make her youngest, Buster, feel bad.
It seems Peggy never really felt bad for being a terrible parent. It’s even more apparent that her awful parenting was less because of her financial circumstance and more because she simply didn’t want to be a mother. (I mean, come on, diapers are expensive and she used one to diaper Bud’s face because he was colic-y.) In addition to her trademark big red hair, loud clothes and silly walk, Peggy was known for being a careless mother, a mother who even seemed to delight in her mistakes.
Not every mother on this list is funny because they were somehow terrible mothers. Kitty Foreman, was, for the most part an ideal mom. She had a successful career as a nurse and was able to achieve a pretty functional work-life balance (you know, before she started hitting the sauce). She was even able to (relatively) successfully mother her son’s friends when their parents were inexplicably just not around. But the dark humor of Kitty’s character especially surfaces when the pressures of her familial, social and work responsibilities become too much for her. Her “happy family” facade cracks, her trademark laugh ends and her long-standing resentments toward her family and friends bubble up. No one can doubt how passionate Kitty is about her children. But even the most devoted of mothers have their limits. Check out Kitty’s rant, in which she uses her husband’s favorite insult against him for once, in the video above.
Motherhood changes you: your body, your priorities, your relationship with your significant other. And not all of them are drastic or even negative. But in Lois’ case, after raising five particularly unruly, rambunctious boys, her personality has adapted to her parental struggles. Once a happy-go-lucky, free-spirited mother after the birth of her first child, Francis, she grows into the dark, paranoid, tough, sometimes cruel disciplinarian she is at the premiere of the show. Her loving relationship with her husband, seems, curiously enough, largely untouched. Their marriage has survived the changes parenthood has brought because they’re a pretty solid team, with an us-against-the-boys mentality. While Lois’ intentions are usually good, there’s also an odd side of her that does relish in punishing her children, and it’s the same side of her that allows her to be pretty successful after all in the raising of her children. To see just how creative Lois has gotten with her parenting after all these years you can watch a video of Lois swapping tips with an army drill sergeant here.
Queen of the brutally-honest one-liner, Sophia Petrillo is the best example of how brilliant, hilarious mothering doesn’t stop when your children reach retirement age as well. Even at age 80, Sophia could still come up with sage advice, comforting words and the audience favorite, snappy put-downs to keep her often adolescent-acting roommates and daughter Dorothy in check. Check out the compilation video above for some of Sophia’s best moments and insults.
How could we not include the lead in a show called Mama’s Family? Hell, even without that obvious name, Thelma Harper would still have a place on this list. She’s loud, brash and sassy. She’s the only mother on this list that could hustle you out of your paycheck at a poker game, cuss you out and bake several pies for the Church Ladies League bake sale all before dinner time. For all of those first-time mothers out there, here’s a clip of Mrs. Harper’s hilarious insights on childbirth.
In the ‘90s, Roseanne Conner was known as the loud-mouthed poster-child of parenting in middle America. Viewers tuned into her show to see a humorous, yet relatively realistic portrayal of parenthood and other aspects of life. (But those whimsical dream sequences weren’t half bad either.) Roseanne didn’t seek to be the perfect mother and yet there was a warmth to her that other parents could relate to. Behind all of the wisecracks, there really was a mother trying to do right by her kids with what she had. Roseanne was the witty, tough mother that many wished they had the guts to be, as imperfect as she was. You can view one of her most imperfect and hilarious moments as a mother in the video below.
Overbearing. Condescending. Intrusive. But she’s also loving, thoughtful and fiercely protective. Marie Barone is a divisive character among fans of Everybody Loves Raymond. You either love or hate her because of the aforementioned traits. She’s got plenty of sage advice and the ability to coax her sons out of the sourest of moods. And yet she’s also often the source of the problems she resolves. You could say that she’s a drama queen, but that’s not entirely true. The drama isn’t what makes her happy: It’s helping people deal with the aftermath that truly delights her. But though Marie is not always the best mother, there’s one quality that everyone can agree on and often yields humorous results: She has a fierce loyalty to her family that cannot be broken. And it’s never more obvious than in the clip below.
Clair’s rants are the stuff of comedy legend. And it’s not just because the words themselves are elegant and witty. No, Phylicia Rashad had this lyrical, rapid-fire delivery, that made anything that came out of Clair’s mouth sound like a particularly saucy Aaron Sorkin-monologue. Even when absolutely livid with her children, Clair’s insults were flawless. She was never at a loss for words and we love her for it. One of her most memorable rants was about her daughter Vanessa and her ill-conceived plan to run off with her friends to Bal-ti-more (that’s how Clair says it, when she’s angry) to see a band. You can watch Clair at her best in the video below.
Though a classic 1950s TV mom, Lucy Ricardo didn’t have to worry about seeming like the perfect wife and mother. Her success as a character on I Love Lucy was precisely because she wasn’t afraid to make mistakes. All Lucy had to worry about was being funny. And she was: Lucy was a master of jokes and funny facial expressions, but what she truly excelled at was pure physical comedy. And the pratfalls and slapstick humor didn’t stop once she became a mother to Little Ricky. Lucy’s signature sense of humor blended successfully in with her motherhood. One of the best examples of this is when Little Ricky begins learning how to play the drums and his frazzled parents cope with the constant, repetitive banging noise that filled their apartment as a result. You can view that scene, a veritable mini-version of Stomp, in the video below.