SURVEY SAYS: Who's Your Favorite (TV) Mom?

May 7, 2009 ( - Sunday, of course, is Mother's Day.

And while no one can hold a candle to “Mom”, this week, I asked readers who their favorite TV Mom was – and which TV Mom was most like theirs.  

On the first question, while there was a fair amount of diversity in responses, there’s no question as to the “winner.”   Ditto the TV Mom that was most like our readers’ moms – but it wasn’t the same person – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Top Mom

Readers favorite TV Mom – garnering more than twice as much support as any other candidate – Claire Huxtable from the Cosby Show, who garnered 22.4% .

Next most popular was Marion Cunningham from Happy Days, who received the support of 9.5% .  

Laura Petrie (the Dick Van Dyke Show) and Samantha Stevens (Bewitched) each got 7.8% , while Carol Brady (the Brady Bunch) and June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) each drew the support of 6.9%

As you can see from the foregoing, for some odd reason this week many of the responses tended to fall in pairs.  

Marge Simpson (the Simpsons) and Marie Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond) each received 6% , Elyse Keaton (Family Ties) and Lorelei Gilmore (the Gilmore Girls) each got 4.3% , while Donna Reed (the Donna Reed Show) and Margaret Anderson (Father Knows Best) each were supported by 3.4% of the total.

An exception to the trend (in more ways than one) was Peg Bundy (Married With Children), who got 2.6% , while Alison Dubois (Medium), Carmella Soprano (the Sopranos), Louise Jefferson (the Jeffersons), Shirley Partridge (the Partridge Family), and the ultimate nuclear age mother Sarah Conner (the Sarah Conner Chronicles) each drew the support of 1.7% .

That said, more than one-in-five ( 23% ) were enamored of a mother not on the provided list. a list that included:

Debra Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond)
Olivia Walton (The Waltons)
Clifford's mom on Cheers, I'm just surprised she isn't on the list.
Amanda (Mr. Spock's Mom on Star Trek)
It's a tie between Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls and Joyce Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Lois - Malcom in the Middle
Rosanne Connor (2)
Christine (Old Christine)
Lois from Malcolm in the Middle
Weeds' Nancy Botwin and not in the pot-selling way.
Edina Monsoon (Absolutely Fabulous)
Lynette Scavo (Desperate Housewives)
Julia Sugarbaker--Designing Women
Morticia Addams (the Addams Family)
Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire)
Mom Walker (Brothers & Sisters)
Edith Bunker (2) All in the Family
Mrs. Costanza (Seinfeld)
The Big Love moms
Olivia Walton
Lois Griffin from Family Guy

Well, there are TV Moms, and then there's the real thing - and I also asked readers which TV Mom was most like theirs.

Let's just start by saying that Claire Huxtable might be a favorite on TV, but a mere 1.8% of this week's respondents found her to be an apt comparison with Mom.  

Everybody Loves Raymond's Mother

No, among this week's respondents, the most commonly cited comparison was….Marie Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond, who apparently was a point of reference for nearly one-in-ten of this week's respondents, including the reader who said about their mother "She keeps a clean house, has a favorite child and everybody knows it, has a huge heart, but still manages to drive us all crazy."

The second-most commonly cited point of comparison was June Cleaver ( 8.8% ), followed closely by Carol Brady ( 7.9% ), Elyse Keaton ( 7.0% ), and more distantly by Marion Cunningham ( 5.3% ), Donna Reed ( 4.4% ), Samantha Stevens ( 2.6% ), while Peggy Bundy, Marge Simpson, Laura Petrie (one reader noted, "Thanks for bringing a smile to my face. I haven't thought about Laura Petrie in years. Of course, I never thought of her as a "mother figure."  Another said simply, "Laura Petrie was hot!" , and the aforementioned Claire Huxtable each received 1.8% .  

Shirley Partridge and Sarah Conner brought up the rear of the list, each getting about 1% .

Here, too, there were more choices than options:

Charles Manson (Editor's Note:  ok, I admit, I don't get THIS one at all!)
Betty Hanadarko - Saving Grace
Edith Bunker (All in the Family) - 3
Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Boo-Kay" - Keeping Up Appearances
The one from the Addams Family
Debra Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. (2)
Carol Burnette
Cross between Edith Bunker and Rosanne Barr
Sophia from Golden Girls
Roseanne Barr from Roseanne
Bea Arthur as Maude
Somewhere between Ma Kettle and June Cleaver
Olivia Walton
Alice from "Alice"

The mathematicians among you will notice that those totals are a bit short of 100% - about 45.6% short, in fact - because that's how many of this week's respondents said "Nobody's like My Mom!"

Readers Weigh In

I gave readers a chance to explain their responses, and that generated a number of interesting responses, including the following:

"June Cleaver because the ultimate TV fantasy is a mom who does housework in heels and pearls."

"I remember my mom working her butt off in dead end jobs to help make ends meet. None of the examples above do that. They're all great moms, but my mom spent many nights and weekends working during the economic crises of the 70s and 80s to make sure we could supplement my dad's income enough to survive."

"Made everything from scratch, cooked, canned, sewed, knitted, took care of neighbors, grew a garden, always going to church activities and cooking something. My parents grew up in the depression and my mother saved everything. If you didn't eat it all this meal, you would see it in another version at the next meal. She made stretching the dollar an art."

"She never tried to change her children, always supported them, and accepted them just the way they were."

"My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom raising five kids. Her kids were her profession, and sometimes they still are, even though we are all grown. She had no problem in saying what was on her mind. I believe she most reflects the character Debra Barone, who took life as it was handed to her with a big sense of humor."

"Mom is the real deal. Comparing her to some of these "characters" doesn't sit well."

Because my mom is the best, she knows what to say, when to say it and makes sure everyone is always happy!

And, speaking of making folks happy, one reader reminded us that "Mrs. "C" knew how to take care of her family and could still get "frisky" with Howard."

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said "I wonder Nevin - how many of us actually turned out like our Moms?"

Thanks to everyone who participated in this survey - and the mothers that inspire us all!