What I loved about 90’s television was there were many family based sitcoms that we could all relate to. When it comes down to the “mother” character, these shows portrayed the women as multidimensional. They were women who were ambitious individuals full of wisdom, warmth, and love. Most of these characters demonstrated the seemingly impossible balancing act between successful careers and family life, often times sharing the equal footing with their influential TV husbands. Each of these cool moms had personas that stood out and made us love them for who they were. So let’s take a look back at some of the 90’s TV moms we love.
Vivian Banks- We have to give credit to actresses Janet Hubert-Whitten and Daphne Maxwell Reid for playing our favorite Aunt Viv, though they played the role very differently. While Hubert-Whitten played Vivian, she played her as the straightforward, career-focused, no nonsense woman who shared the same amount of influence as husband Philip Banks. Meanwhile, Reid played Viv as the more laid back, supportive mom and housewife. While we may have our preference, Vivian Banks was all those qualities we love in a mom.
- Lisa Landry- On Sister, Sister, Lisa was the outgoing, food-loving, entrepreneurial mom who owned her own fashion business, “Fashions by Lisa”. She was hilarious and always had the best comebacks, especially whenever Ray got on her nerves. Lisa represented the kind of parent that could also be the “best friend.” Though she did discipline the twins when necessary, it was those small heart to heart moments between Lisa and the twins that made you love her. Lisa knew when to have fun and when to get serious.
- Clair Huxtable- Played by the incredible Phylicia Rashad, Mrs. Huxtable remains one of television’s most memorable moms. This highly educated, elegant, and feisty matriarch could do it all! Not only did she have a successful career as a lawyer but Claire managed to raise a family of five as well as being an amazing partner to Cliff Huxtable. She could also beat anybody in an argument. Claire Huxtable had that “let me tell you something” attitude that reminded everyone that she knew who she was as a person and as a woman. Her character was one of the first black moms on television to represent black women in realistic but positive way when The Cosby Show aired, challenging the negative stereotypes. She also became the ideal standard for how women, particularly women of color, are to be portrayed on the small screen.
- Harriette Baines- Winslow: If there is anyone who can handle Steve Urkle’s antics, it’s Harriette Winslow. On Family Matters, Winslow was a conservative wife and mother of four who wasn’t shy of telling people how she really felt. She always carried herself in a calm manner, which suited perfectly with Carl Winslow’s short fuse. Similar to Vivian Banks and Claire Huxtable, Harriette was a proud working woman who knew her stance in a middle class society.
Deidra “Dee” Mitchell- While this character can be missing from most “favorite TV moms” list, Dee Mitchell from Moesha deserves recognition for being a hardworking step-parent and wife. Like the other moms on this list, she was career focused, working at her stepdaughter’s high school as a teacher then eventually becoming a school principal. While her relationship with Moesha wasn’t perfect, Dee maintained a close bond with her stepdaughter as she continued to watch Moesha find her way in life. Their dynamic captured the struggle of adjustment between step parents and step kids. Dee was kindhearted but just as headstrong as Moesha. Yet, she managed to handle family and career very well. She definitely deserves some credit.