Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Top 5 TV Moms, and If They Had a Child With Autism

On this Mother’s Day, here are my selections of the Top 5 Moms in television history, and my thoughts on how they would have handled being a parent of a child with autism. Let’s see if you agree:

5. June Cleaver – Leave It To Beaver: Do you younger parents even know who June Cleaver is? When I was a young child, I watched reruns of Leave It To Beaver every afternoon. It was my mom’s favorite show back then because it presented the idyllic household of the time. June Cleaver was the quintessential ‘50s era stay-at-home mom who kept a clean house and had dinner ready, all while wearing pearls, a dress, and perfectly coiffed hair. A more pleasant person you will never meet. Especially in the real world.

I’m guessing that most June Cleavers of that era had never even heard of autism. And, while it is hard to picture her with a child who had autism, I do think she would have been very nurturing. Hmm, and think of what ‘The Beaver’ would have been like if he had autism. He might have been even more precious than he already was.

4. Marion Cunningham – Happy Days: “Mrs. C” was a kookier version of the ‘50s era mom, though she was actually a creation of the ‘70s. Similar to June Cleaver with her tidy house and nice clothes, Marion was more likely to let her hair down, metaphorically at least. Always sweet, she was wiser than she initially came across. As with June Cleaver, it is hard to picture her as the mom of child with autism. Though if she could be a mother figure for The Fonz, you figure that she would have been able to deal with autism. She certainly would have had more patience than “Mr. C”.

3. Lorelei Gilmore – Gilmore Girls: No, I did not watch Gilmore Girls. No self-respecting guy would ever admit to that. But, I heard that Lorelei was a single mom who had an extremely quick wit and could banter with the best of them. Her sense of humor would serve her well if she were faced with autism. And she always fought hard for her daughter, Rory, another vital characteristic of an autism mom. What a great show! I mean, I heard it was a great show.

2. Clair Huxtable – The Cosby Show: Bill Cosby’s tv wife was smart, tough, and funny. A professional woman who was capable of handling any situation, she was a no-nonsense mom who kept her kids, and most especially, her husband in line. If her son Theo had autism, I imagine that she would always know what to do. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the table from her during an IEP meeting. She would be fearsome.

1. Debra Barone – Everybody Loves Raymond: Perhaps the most realistic mom on my list, Debra Barone had to put up with her lunkheaded husband Raymond and excessively intrusive in-laws. Often frazzled and quick to get upset, she was both tough and loving and ultimately worked everything out. I think she comes closest to representing the real-life autism mom. If she could deal with Raymond and his family, she could deal with anything.

That is my list. What is yours?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms! But most especially to my wife, who is better than any tv mom could ever be. Kai, and I, are lucky to have you in our lives.

You may also be interested in checking out my list of The Top 5 TV Dads, and If They Had a Child With Autism.


  1. Oh man, even I never watched Gilmore I'm worried about you. I agree with you about Claire Huxtable...I could use a little Claire in me at IEP meetings. What about Carol Brady? She might have left the dirty work to Alice like she did with everything else. Laura Petrie? Hmmm...Richie barely came out of his room, so they might have locked an autistic up in the attic.

  2. Well, I guess I shouldn't admit that I've seen Dawson's Creek as well. ;)

    Carol Brady was on my list until I rewrote this at the last second. You can't make the Top 5 if your housekeeper does all the work, and is funnier than you, too.

    I love MTM, but think of her more as Mary Richards than Laura Petrie. And you're right, I hardly think of Laurie as a mom since we hardly ever saw Ritchie. Haha, maybe she and Dick Van Dyke had a secret autistic child!


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