Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our TV Mothers -- loving, tough, raw, tragic, enduring...

Since it was just my mother's birthday with a full shout to her there, I thought I'd take a moment to list some TV mothers who helped raise us all -- and more than a few I'd love to save.

I'd take Edith Bunker first. But what would I do with her once I had her? She'd only want to jog back home. I imagine her in bed, the walls spinning with floral wallpaper, a cross above the headboard. And what do I want for her? Vivid, lurid dreams.

Next, and this might surprise you, I'd try to get Debra Barone out. Everybody Loves Raymond, except her. I think this marriage is doomed. She's so exhausted so bereft so bored. I'd come in with a med-evac helicopter if I could -- if only for weekend.

You'd think I'd want to save June Cleaver. She was so good to us -- scrubbed us clean, tucked us in, kept the curtains white, but I had no idea how much she suffered until I met April Wheeler in Revolutionary Road and saw Pleasantville. Did she suffer greatly? Were we worth it? Did we love her enough in the end?

Mrs. Brady -- in that pantsuit? No. You don't need any saving.

Lois. Dear Lois of Malcolm in the Middle. You are our raw insane elemental subconscious darkness. I look at you and look away and look at you and look away. I'd save you except you are meant to live out our most twisted hours. If not you, then who?

Mrs. Cunningham, Morticia, Mrs. Keaton, Marge, Kitty, Mrs. Huxtable -- you taught me what it is to be deeply in love with your Grand Po-bah, your Gomez, your NPR dem, your Homie, your Korean War vet, and, of course, Bill Cosby.

The sister-wives and your big love. I'll miss each one of you. But, the fact is, you are free now.


And here's one you might not have thought of at first blush, Lorraine Blake -- Henry Blake's wife from M*A*S*H. There's an episode where she sends him a home video of one of his daughter's birthday parties. I loved Lorraine. I wanted to save them all -- the whole family -- from separation and war and, eventually, Henry's lost plane.

This is what our mothering can be reduced to -- the flickering image on a screen, each of us in our own home movies of our various roles, scooting people into place, smiling and waving at the camera. But that's nothing. That's not it at all. It's not even close.

Happy Mother's Day.