TV moms have a special place in the hearts of viewers who love good programming. With bundles of shows set in Chicago over the many years, we have to wonder what Hollywood thinks of Midwestern moms. Many we have grown to love and most we have loved because they make us look good. Enjoy a sampling of our favorites.
Dr. Natalie Manning —”Chicago Med”
Natalie Manning, played by Torrey DiVitto, is a widowed mom whose husband died serving in the military. Her relationship with Will, the younger brother of “Chicago P.D.” character Jay, is central to the show, as is her compassion as a doctor. She serves as a pediatrician in the emergency room.
Series run: 2015-present
Eileen O’Neal — “The Real O’Neals”
The perfect Irish Catholic family facade is crushed in the pilot episode of “The Real O’Neals,” when the family secrets – eating disorder, divorce, atheist and gay – are all revealed to Eileen, played by Martha Plimpton. That’s when Eileen’s role as a mom shows that love is every moment with your kids. The series lasted two seasons on ABC.
Series run: 2016-17
Joyce Moranto & Peggy Biggs — “Mike & Molly”
The pair earn co-honors as the mothers of Molly and Mike, both single in the pilot as Joyce (Swoozie Kurtz) is a widow and Peggy (Rondi Reed) is divorced. Joyce raised two girls, oldest daughter Molly is a teacher and youngest, Victoria, is a make-up artist at a morgue, and Joyce is dating then married to Vince Moranto. Peggy has always been the only woman in Mike’s life, having raised the now-cop as a single mother. When Mike gets married to Molly, Peggy has only her dog, Jim, to dote on.
Series run: 2010-2016
Bonnie Malloy — “Life with Bonnie”
Chicago native Bonnie Hunt played Bonnie Malloy, the host of a fictional Chicago morning talk show and mother to two (or in the case of the first season, three) children. Her persona on her show is that of a put-together wife and mother, though she isn’t as controlled in her real life. Three years after the end of the series, Hunt began a syndicated national talk show titled: The Bonnie Hunt Show.
Series run: 2002-04
Big Mama — “Soul Food”
Though Big Mama’s death is central to the film that spurred the TV series, Irma P. Hall returned in the series as the matriarch of the family as a memory. Her constant wisdom helps Ahmad remember what is important about family.
Series run: 2000-04
Dr. Susan Lewis — “ER”
Sherry Stringfield played Dr. Susan Lewis in two stints on the long-running show. Her departure during the third season was to live closer to her sister and niece, Little Suzie, whom Dr. Lewis raised immediately after the baby was born. In her second stint on the show, Lewis gained a love interest and eventually a son, Cosmo. Her trials as a mother and a trauma doctor were often broached.
Series run: 1994-2009
Harriette Baines Winslow — “Family Matters”
The world was introduced to Harriette Baines Winslow on “Perfect Strangers” before the spinoff that shed light onto her family life. Harriette, played for most of the show’s run by Jo Marie Payton, was a department store executive and battled teenage drama with her own family and that of her next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel. The show was aimed at youngsters and a staple in ABC’s TGIF lineup in the early ’90s.
Series Run: 1989-98
Libby Thatcher — “Life Goes On”
Set in the combined suburb of “Glenbrook,” Patti LuPone’s Libby Thatcher was the mom to two teenagers, one with Down syndrome, and stepmom to an adult daughter. Late in the series, she had a third baby, allowing the program to tackle pregnancy topics for moms of advanced maternal age. In addition, “Life Goes On” was the first TV series to have a main character with Down syndrome and explored relationships in an HIV-positive world.
Series run: 1989-93
Peg Bundy — “Married With Children”
Not a typical TV “mom” role of nurturer and confidant, Peg Bundy (played by Katey Sagal), was a foil to Al, a Chicago shoe salesman. She smoked cigarettes, had a hard time keeping a job and wasn’t known for her housekeeping skills, though her cooking antics launched the book: “Pig Out With Peg, Secrets from the Bundy Family Kitchen.” She was also a champion for women’s rights and close with best friend and neighbor, Marcy.
Series run: 1987-97
Katherine Papadopolis — “Webster”
Played by Susan Clark, the real-life wife of Alex Karras who was also her husband on “Webster,” Katherine was a socialite who was thrust into motherhood with the adoption of Webster. Katherine and George were newlyweds when Webster’s parents were killed in a car accident and George was called upon as Webster’s godfather to adopt the youngster. Webster called Katherine “Ma’am,” because he said it was as close as he could get to “Mom” without disrespecting his own mother.
Series run: 1983-89
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