Do you know what’s better than one mom? The television mothers who helped raise us with their warm hearts and universal Black momisms. No matter what show you watched, you knew mom was not one of your little friends; the idea of upsetting her sent literal chills up your spine, and no, we do not have McDonald’s money. Black moms are a phenomenon both on screen and in real life.
We’ve had memorable TV moms that have moved on and done great things throughout their careers, but in the Black community, they’re still referred to by their on-screen characters who have left a mark on our culture. In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re highlighting eight TV Moms we love like they were our own.
1. Cookie LyonSource:Getty
Cookie Lyon was not one to be played with. The sassy, stylish mom played the wife of drug kingpin, Lucious Lyon, played by Terrence Howard, in the TV series Empire. The family dynamic is stressed when Lucious comes for half of Empire Entertainment, but the mother of three fights back and gets dirty. From her comical clapbacks to her ride-or-die instincts, Cookie prioritizes loyalty and will go the extra mile for her children.
2. Clair HuxtableSource:Getty
The Cosby Show showed a new, refreshing narrative regarding Black families. The esteemed family offered a perspective that the world wasn’t used to seeing; a Black doctor father, a Black lawyer mother, and their five children. Clair Huxtable led gracefully and garnered respect with her stern voice and no-nonsense persona. She was a feminist who advocated for women’s rights. Who could forget when she told her daughter’s husband Alvin off after he commented on her “serving” her husband? Classic TV moment!
3. Rainbow “Bow” JacksonSource:Getty
When the Black-ish writers developed Rainbow Jackson’s character, they knew the name should match the personality. Rainbow, better known as Bow, is married to Dre Johnson and is the mother to Zoey, Junior, Diana, Jack, and Devante. When she’s not working as an anesthesiologist, she’s working through her flaws while encouraging her children to think for themselves. The quirky, stylish mom might be a little vain, but rightfully so. Bow represents the mother who deals with her childhood trauma to become the best version of herself.
4. Lisa LandrySource:Getty
Lisa Landry may not have birthed Tia and Tamera herself, but her unconditional love for the sisters prove that anyone can become a mother figure. Sister Sister is about twins who were separated at birth, and reunited as teens. Landry is Tia’s adopted mother and Tamara’s adopted step-daughter. And while Tia has more history with her mother, her impulsive, heedless attitude is more like Tamera’s. Landry’s parenting style is light-hearted, fun, and honest.
5. Rochelle RockSource:Getty
Rochelle Rock is your typical Black mom that doesn’t have time for nonsense. With a mama like this, you better make sure you take the chicken out of the fridge by the time she gets home, or else. The series Everybody Hates Chris, which is loosely based on actor Chris Rock’s life, explores a funny family dynamic that is extremely familiar. Rochelle is married to Julius, a frugal father who is always in a state of worry. Together, they have three children; Chris, an intelligent young man who consistently finds himself in unlucky situations; Drew, the popular polar opposite to his younger brother Chris; and Tonya, the mouthy younger sister who is spoiled beyond belief. Rochelle is the mother who will call you into the room to change the channel on TV, put you on punishment for missing the school bus even though it was her fault, and then apologize with your favorite meal for dinner because she can’t say, “I’m sorry.”
6. Aunt VivSource:Getty
In the 90s, Aunt Viv played Black America’s favorite TV mom in the hit series, The Fresh Prince of Belair. She led with compassion, and she was skilled at laying the iron fist when it came to dictating the rules and regulations. And while we champion both Janet Hubert and Daphne Maxwell Reid for the rendition of the role, Hubert’s blunt attitude is forever memorable.
My Wife and Kids mirrored a lot of Black suburban households in the early 2000s. The upper-middle-class family consisted of Michael Kyle, the owner of a trucking company, his wife Jay, the assertive, hilarious mother of three who deals with her husband’s antics, and their three kids, Michael Jr., Claire, and Kady. Jay was quirky and sometimes hard to take seriously, but her children always respected her. Her unconventional parenting style fostered trust and understanding and streamlined the entire family dynamic.
8. Florida EvansSource:Getty
Florida Evans represents the hard-working, child-raising, good-food-cooking mother who will lick her finger to wipe the crust from the corner of your mouth. Momisms are real, and she is the proof. The mother of three raised her children to the best of her ability, and she was the pillar that held the family together in the classic series Good Times.