Remembering the best TV mom this Mother’s Day
Since this weekend is all about mothers, I figured I would do a list of the best TV moms. But I couldn’t possibly do that without mentioning Clair Huxtable, and I’m still not sure whether we’re allowed to really talk about “The Cosby Show” these days. So, I decided to just focus on my favorite all-time TV mom, Elyse Keaton, played by Meredith Baxter in the 80s classic, “Family Ties.”
If you don’t remember, Elyse was a 60s flower child who protested for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam. It was a past that never ceased to embarrass her kids, Jennifer (Tina Yothers), the tomboy; Mallory (Justine Bateman), the fashionista; and Alex (Michael J. Fox), the conservative (They would later be joined by Alex’s mini-me, Andrew, played by Brian Bonsall).
An architect by trade, Elyse was an extremely creative and talented artist and singer.
She and her husband, Steven (Michael Gross), were not afraid to show their affection for one another. That often embarrassed the kids when they were younger, but as they grew older, they appreciated the loving example their parents set for them. Elyse could always be counted on for great advice, but she gave her kids room to make their own choices. And she was right there to comfort them when the choices were proven wrong.
Probably, the best thing about Elyse is that she always let her kids be themselves. Alex believed the polar opposite of everything Elyse stood for — conservatism, capitalism, winning the arms race. And although she tried to persuade Alex to see opposing views, she never tried to change who he was. Mallory and Elyse didn’t always have a lot to talk about either with Mallory’s interests mostly being fashion and boys, but Elyse always found some way to connect with her daughter and support the person she was. And though Elyse knew very little about sports, she never squashed Jennifer’s interest in them.
But I think the biggest reason I chose Elyse as my favorite all-time TV mom is because she reminds me so much of my own mother, the late Lola Henderson. Mom was a very creative person and a talented singer and she and Dad set a wonderful marriage example. She was an excellent judge of character and did give good advice — although I’m pretty sure I didn’t follow it nearly as much as I should have. And she never discouraged her strange little girl who collected TV Guide magazines in a dresser drawer and obsessed over Nielsen ratings or babbled endlessly about some random TV show she didn’t even watch. It’s that support and encouragement that makes this column possible today.
To all the mothers out there who support their kids for who they are and who they want to be, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.
Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at email@example.com.