TV’s Most Realistic Mom-Child Relationships

And why are they so real?

Because of the writing:

by Alison Natasi

There was something oddly comforting about watching Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson having an awkward mother-daughter spat mother-by_chaoslavawolfwith mom Melanie Griffith on the Oscars red carpet. When asked if Griffith had seen the film, in which Johnson plays an oft-nude virginal initiate into the world of BDSM, she said no and that she didn’t need to see it to know her daughter was a good actress. Cue a familiar eye roll and a few fed-up expletives from a bratty Johnson.

It’s telling that one of the most realistic portrayals of a mother-child relationship on television this year didn’t happen in a family sitcom, but at an awards show. But there are a few family-driven programs that have presented believable moms and children, like Amy Sherman-Palladino’s beloved Gilmore Girls. The pop culture-obsessed relationship between Alexis Bledel’s Rory and Lauren Graham’s Lorelai was dynamic. Lorelai’s complicated relationship with blue-blood matriarch Emily (played by Kelly Bishop, who celebrates a birthday today) was also unique. Bossy and often brutal, Emily was not simply a caricature of a parent who just didn’t understand. She longed to find that connection with Lorelai, whose hurt and frustrations would often get in the way of building a bond.

Here are other mother-child relationships on television that broke the mold and got real.

Roseanne Conner, Roseanne

Roseanne Conner (played by Roseanne Barr), the outspoken matriarch of one of television’s most successful working-class family sitcoms, remains the standard by which realistic TV moms are judged. The Conners face money struggles, domestic strife, teen pregnancy, and other issues familiar to the average American family. Roseanne deals with things with humor and without wrapping a neat, little bow on the family’s problems. She doesn’t have all the answers and offers realistic advice when daughters Darlene and Becky complain about the trials of young adulthood. And Roseanne has her own life to sort out while she’s busy being mom, especially her career as co-owner of the Lanford Lunch Box restaurant.

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