The final rounds of our tournament contain four Moms that couldn’t be more diverse. One animated, one wealthy lawyer, one bubbly homemaker from the 70’s, and one biker gang queen, these women each approach their families with the same amount of love and dedication but from very different paths.
Gemma Teller has her faults, obviously. [Ed. Note: For the entire beginning of the tournament I had been spelling Gemma’s name incorrectly. My apologies to Kurt Sutter and Katey Sagal. SAMCRO for life.] Though it’s usually in the name of keeping her family together, she often allows her own selfish motivations to inform her nefarious plans, and she has an especially tough time keeping her emotions in check as a mother-in-law to Tara. She is a complicated woman whose primary focuses are always her son and grandsons and the continuation of power in her family line, dropping husbands along the way that are in conflict with this vision. Facing fellow Badass Nancy Botwin in Round 2 proved little difficulty for Mrs. Teller. Nancy is a self-driven, single mom who finds a way to provide for her family when her husband dies, teaches her children practical skills (albeit illegal), and even makes them part of the family business. Nancy’s one tough cookie, but having to face the Mom of Anarchy proved too great an opponent.
After then defeating Modern Family’s Claire Dunphy, Gemma was challenged by the underdog of our tournament and unsuspected member of the Final Four, Kitty Forman. Gemma and Kitty share a role held by a handful of moms in our tournament, that of resident Mom to a group. Gemma cares for the other members of the Sons of Anarchy nearly as much as she does her own son (Chibs refers to her as “Momma” several times), showing how the greatest Moms don’t let their nurturing stop at biology. Kitty’s positive, comforting energy seems to have carried her a good distance in this competition, emerging as one of the more stand-out maternal figures of the last 15 years. But she too would meet Mister Mayhem (that’s SOA talk for offing somebody). Goodbye Wisconsin.
On the other side of the bracket, Lois Griffin’s character grows and changes noticeably through the course of her show’s history. We are given frequent glimpses into her love for Peter, present from the moment they met. We see her wealthy upbringing and her choice to leave that behind. Family Guy’s success has allowed the show’s writers to expand her more outlandish side, seeing her as a gun-toting rambo, a bulimic model, a politician, a dominatrix, and a degenerate gambler. And yet despite these adventures Lois keeps her family as her greatest pride and top priority (other than Meg, obviously). She couldn’t have existed without her animated ancestors but Lois suspercedes the Cartoon category and we considered placing her in other divisions for this tournament. A strong competitor, Lois would ultimately find defeat at the hands of the woman who would become Champion.
Clair Huxtable was picked by some analysts as an early favorite in this tournament. I have perhaps overused the word “icon” but Clair is truly that. Groundbreaking for the way both women and African-Americans were portrayed on television, the Cosby Show’s matriarch is the complete package: a product of the aforementioned 80’s trend of business-professional mothers, a parent of both genders and various age groups, and a strict disciplinarian (what a vicious mom stare) combined with a sense of humor and a fantastic smile. This mix is equal parts the character crafted by Cosby and his writers, and the performance given by the timeless Phylicia Rashad. Similarly, it takes a strong actress to bring to life the delicate balance of a character like Gemma Teller and as such Katey Sagal, the only woman to portray two moms in our tournament, is a large part of what makes Gemma one of tv’s top all-time moms. Both Gemma and Clair are active women. There is a vivacity to each, a quality that’s easy for even our tv Moms to subdue, emblematic perhaps of the difficult real-life balance of being a mother and what the women in our lives sometimes sacrifice for us. Give your Mom a hug like she’s Clair Huxtable, and thank her for doing one of humanity’s toughest jobs.
Clair Huxtable is your 2014 Mom Madness Champion.