“Now Wally, I want you to go in the living room and pick up those orange peels that you left on the coffee table. If your father comes home and sees them he’ll be in a terrible mood all through dinner.” – June Cleaver
Just turn on the TV and you’ll find a TV mom. Over the decades we’ve seen quite the variety of moms. We’ve seen moms that wear pearls and high heels when cleaning the house. We seen working moms, moms with blended families, single moms, moms that have adopted children, the list goes on. While TV moms may have started out exemplifying perfection, as the decades went on, TV moms became more in tune with reality.
“Honestly, there should be a museum for the two of you. It’ll be called the Schmoopie Center for Cuteness and I will be the curator, and people will line up for blocks just to delight in your deliciousness.” Beverly Goldberg
In this episode of Trivia Rewind, I will give you ten trivia questions about various TV moms over the decades. In our fun facts segment, find out why one TV mom really wore pearls and high heeled shoes. It’s not the reason you think. Find out which mom word was not allowed to be said on one classic TV show back in the 50s. Plus, find out which TV mom actress is younger than than her co-stars that play her adult kids. Those are just a few of the fun facts in this week’s episode.
“We are very fortunate to have the children, Cliff. Otherwise we would never know the joy of leaving them at home.” Clair Huxtable
Spoiler alert! Below, you will find the transcript for this episode. You can listen to Trivia Rewind on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. For more Oscar fun, look back at some of our previous episodes!
Trivia Rewind – Episode 47 – TV Moms
[00:00:00] Debi Jenkins: [00:00:00] Hey Trivia Rewind listeners, I’m Debi Jenkins, your host. This week, we’re going to talk about TV moms. Over the decades, we’ve seen quite the variety of moms that go anywhere from moms that wear pearls and high heels while cleaning, to working moms, to moms with blended families, single moms, moms that have adopted children, the list goes on.
[00:00:37] While TV moms may have started out exemplifying perfection, as the decades went on, TV moms became more lined up with reality. Whether or not we like the TV moms on the list this week, each one probably speaks to someone. In this episode of Trivia Rewind, I will give you 10 trivia questions about various [00:01:00] TV moms over the decades.
[00:01:02] After I ask you the 10 questions, I’ll go back and review and give you the answers and some fun facts. In our fun facts segment, find out why one TV mom really wore pearls and high heeled shoes. It’s not the reason you think. Find out which mom word was not allowed to be said on one classic TV show back in the fifties. Plus find out which actress that plays a TV mom now is actually younger than her co-stars that play her adult children. Those are just a few of the fun facts in this week’s episode. Are you ready?
[00:01:41] Let’s start with question one. I live in the 1950s. I have two sons and I’m happily married. I’m dedicated to my family and you’ll often see me wearing pearls and high heels while cleaning the house. My youngest son often gets himself in [00:02:00] trouble but we always work it out in the end with a good lesson to be learned. Who am I?
[00:02:07] Question two. I live in the 1950s and my husband is a musician. When I told him I was pregnant, I did it with a note during one of his concerts. We named our son after my husband. Who am I?
[00:02:25] Question three. You saw me on TV in the eighties and early nineties. My doctor husband and I have five kids. We live in Brooklyn, New York. I am an attorney. Who am I?
[00:02:41] Question four. You saw me on TV in the seventies. I am the mom of a blended family. I have six kids, three are boys and three are girls. I don’t know how I’d make it without our live in maid. Who am I?
[00:03:00] [00:03:00] Question five. I’m on a show that premiered in 2016 and the show is still on the air. I am the mom to three children referred to as “The Big Three.”.
[00:03:15] Question six. I was on TV in the early 2000’s. I am a single mother to a teenage daughter who is very intelligent. She often acts more grown up than I do. Later in the show she ends up going to an Ivy League university. Who am I?
[00:03:34] Question seven. The show I was on started in the 2000’s and is still airing new episodes. I am the mom to three kids and I will do whatever it takes for them, even if it means showing up at their school in my flashy sweaters, trying to solve their problems even when they don’t want me to. Who am I?
[00:03:58] Question [00:04:00] eight. I was on TV in the early 2000’s and by the end of the series, I have five children, none of which I can really handle. To help pay the bills I work at a drug store. Our house is a huge mess and it doesn’t look like anyone has ever taken care of our yard. Honestly, I don’t care. I’m just trying to get by. Who am I?
[00:04:25] Question nine. My show was first on TV in the late eighties. I’m part of a very blue collar family and have quite the mouth on me. I’m loud, obnoxious, sloppy and I yell at my kids quite a bit. Who am I?
[00:04:43] Question 10. I was on a show in the mid 2000’s. My family is upper middle class and I am bi-racial. My husband is African-American. I am an anesthesiologist. Who am I?
[00:05:00] [00:05:00] Well, those were our 10 questions about TV moms. Let’s go back and get the answers and fun facts. Question one. I live in the 1950s, have two sons and I’m happily married. I’m dedicated to my family and you’ll often see me wearing pearls and high heels while cleaning the house. My youngest son often gets himself in trouble but we always work it out in the end with a good lesson to be learned. Who am I?
[00:05:30] I am June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver. Leave it to Beaver debuted in October of 1957. TV mom June Cleaver was played by actress Barbara Billingsley. Those of us that didn’t grow up in the fifties wondered, did moms really wear pearls every day? Surely moms didn’t really clean the house and cook in high-heeled shoes. Well in an interview with The Archive of American Television, [00:06:00] Barbara Billingsley explains why she wore pearls and high heel shoes. She said that she has a hollow in her neck and she wore the pearls to hide it.
[00:06:10] In an interview with The Washington Post, she said, “In those days, cameras and the film weren’t as good as they are today so I used to wear different kinds of jewelry around my neck to hide that spot. So no matter what I was doing, cleaning, cooking, or answering the phone, I had those darn pearls on.” And the high heel shoes? Well she wore those because the boys grew and the producers didn’t want her to be shorter than the kids. In that same Washington Post article, she said, “The high heels also had a reason. In the beginning of the series, I wore flat shoes, but then Wally and the Beaver began to get taller. That’s why they put me in heels. The producers wanted me to be as tall or taller than the kids. Sometimes I would stand on the stairs [00:07:00] for a scene so I could have some more height.”
[00:07:03] In a 1997 TV Guide Magazine interview, Barbara Billingsley described her character as “The ideal TV mother.” She said, “Some people think she was week-ish, but I don’t. She was the love in that family. She set a good example for what a wife could be.” And here’s something interesting about the night that Leave it to Beaver premiered. According to Metv.com “As Leave it to Beaver was premiering on CBS on October 4th, 1957, the Soviet Union was celebrating the launch of its Sputnik 1 satellite.”
[00:07:41] Question two. I live in the 1950s and my husband is a musician. When I told him I was pregnant, I did it with a note during one of his concerts. We named our son after my husband. Who am I? I am Lucy Ricardo from [00:08:00] I Love Lucy.
[00:08:01] Lucille Ball had the role of TV mom Lucy Ricardo. Lucy’s real life husband Desi Arnaz played her TV husband, Ricky Ricardo. Would you believe that when the show was on the air, the censors would not let them use the word “pregnant.” Lucy and Ricky couldn’t even sleep in the same bed. It all started when they shot the premiere of the show.
[00:08:26] Lucille Ball was actually pregnant with their first child, Lucy Arnaz. While you can tell that she’s pregnant in the show, there is no mention of it in the storyline. During the second season, Lucille Ball becomes pregnant again and this time they wrote it into the storyline of the show. A USA Today article says, “In a TV fantasy world, Lucy Ricardo’s pregnancy prompted by the real life pregnancy of Lucille Ball, was a major risk. The plot worried [00:09:00] CBS, which was afraid viewers might pause to consider how Lucy got pregnant, a thought process the twin beds were designed to circumvent. But the show was allowed to proceed with one stipulation. The word “pregnant” was never uttered. Lucy was “expecting.” When those expectations were fulfilled and Lucy gave birth, the show’s ratings hit their peak and a major barrier between TV and the real world collapsed.”
[00:09:33] According to The Huffington Post, “When Little Ricky was born on I love Lucy on January 19th, 1953, coinciding with Ball’s real life delivery of Desi Arnaz Jr. via scheduled Caesarean section, more than 44 million viewers tuned in.”
[00:09:52] Question three. You saw me on TV in the eighties and early nineties. My doctor husband and [00:10:00] I have five kids. We live in Brooklyn, New York and I am an attorney. Who am I? I am Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show. Actress Phylicia Rashad had the role of TV mom Clair Huxtable. Not only is she the wife of her physician husband, she is the mother of five children and an attorney.
[00:10:23] She showed how a woman could be both a mom and have a career outside the home. She was able to get it all done without outside help. During the third season of the show, Phylicia Rashad became pregnant in real life. The producers didn’t want to add another child to the Huxtable family so they had to get creative, hiding her growing belly. People Magazine told us one way that they did it. The article says, “The most clever was having Rashad fall ill and hollowing out a piece of mattress so that she could lie in the bed without showing her growing [00:11:00] belly.” Other ways they hid her belly were by one time having her hold a huge teddy bear while sitting on the couch or having her stand somewhere strategically placed so that her stomach wouldn’t show.
[00:11:13] Question four. You saw me on TV in the seventies. I am the mom of a blended family. I have six kids, three are boys and three are girls. I don’t know how I’d make it without our live in maid. Who am I? Well, I am Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch. Actress Florence Henderson had the role of TV mom Carol Brady. Carol Brady was more of a progressive mom when it came to classic TV moms. In a People Magazine article, she discusses how when producers wanted her to do something she may not agree with, she’d often have to put her foot down.
[00:11:51] The article says, “She insisted Carol was painted as a relatable character for young mothers out there and pushed for [00:12:00] progressive scenes not often seen on television.” The article quotes Henderson as saying, “For instance, I would never wear an apron,” she said. “They tried to make me wear an apron.”
[00:12:12] Florence Henderson has said that she used to beg the producers to give her character a job. It wasn’t until a reunion show that she finally had one. She was a realtor.
[00:12:24] Question five. I’m on a show that premiered in 2016 and the show is still on the air. I am the mom to three children referred to as “The big three.”
[00:12:39] I am Rebecca Pearson from This Is Us. Actress Mandy Moore plays Rebecca Pearson. In This Is Us, Mandy Moore’s character Rebecca takes on a myriad of parenting topics that range from the pregnancy of triplets, stillbirth, multiracial adoption, the death of a [00:13:00] spouse, single motherhood, and so on. We get to see Rebecca being a mother for decades.
[00:13:06] Here’s a fun fact that you may not have known about Mandy Moore. Did you know that she’s the youngest of her co-stars? All of the adults that play her children in the series are older than her in real life. The hair and makeup crew do a great job of taking her through all the age transitions on the show which have been from the twenties to the sixties.
[00:13:30] For her older age, it takes three and a half hours in the makeup chair for her to make the transition to older mom and grandmother.
[00:13:39] Question six. I was on TV in the early 2000’s. I am a single mother to a teenage daughter who is very intelligent. She often acts more grown up than I do. Later in the show she ends up going to an Ivy League university. Who am I? I am Lorelai [00:14:00] Gilmore on the Gilmore girls. Actress Lauren Graham plays mother Lorelai Gilmore. Because she had her daughter Rory at the young age of 16, the two’s relationship was often more of sisters or friends rather than mother daughter. The mother daughter duo was so popular that the two even made it onto Entertainment Weekly’s list of The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years.
[00:14:27] When the show was over, Lauren Graham found out in the strangest of ways. In an interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, she said, “We shot the last episode and we had no idea. There was some back and forth about what was going to happen. I was in a restaurant and I had turned off my phone. So the waiter comes to the table and he was like, “Are you Lauren Graham?” And I was like, “yes.” He goes, “Your agents on the phone.” I thought I was in a forties movie or something. I was walking to the house [00:15:00] phone and I was like, “Hello.” And he goes, “It’s canceled.” and that’s how I found out it was the end.”
[00:15:08] Question seven. The show I was on started in the 2000’s and is still airing new episodes. I am the mom to three kids and I will do whatever it takes for them, even if it means showing up at their school in my flashy sweaters, trying to solve their problems, even when they don’t want me to. Who am I? Well, I am Beverly Goldberg of the Goldbergs. Actress Wendy McLendon-Covey has the role of the ultimate eighties TV mom Beverly Goldberg. She’s over-protective, manipulative and often embarrasses as her kids, but she does it all in love. When talking to her kids, she’s known to address them as “schmoopie.”
[00:15:53] She asks them for “huggies” and “nubbies.” In real life. Wendy doesn’t have any children. [00:16:00] An article on Bustle says, “Though McLendon-Covey doesn’t have children of her own, she says of Beverly’s parenting style, “I wouldn’t be any different. I would be just as annoying cause you know, it all comes from love.” But doesn’t mean her time as the ultimate mom on the Goldbergs has influenced her in real life. “It’s fun to play, but it also makes me think, yeah, I made the right decision not having kids. This is exhausting,” she says.
[00:16:31] One of the coolest things about this series is that it is based on the real life of series creator Adam F. Goldberg. One thing the character Beverly Goldberg is known for is her over the top themed sweaters that you can see her wear on each episode. Many of those sweaters actually belong to the real life Beverly Goldberg, Adam’s mother. Costume designer Keri Smith gets the fun job of dressing the over the [00:17:00] top TV Beverly. A Chicago Sun Times article says, “When the show first aired in 2013, the real Beverly shipped boxes of sweaters and accessories she’d saved for decades, to Smith. Many have made appearances on the show.” You can even find the real Beverly Goldberg on Twitter sharing her real life Beverly Goldberg moments.
[00:17:26] Question eight. I was on TV in the early 2000’s and by the end of the series, I have five children, none of which I can really handle. To help pay the bills, I work at a drug store. Our house is a huge mess and it doesn’t look like anyone has ever taken care of our yard. Honestly, I don’t care. I’m just trying to get by. Who am I? Well, I am Lois from Malcolm in the Middle. Actress Jane Kaczmarek has the role of Lois. Lois is far from [00:18:00] the perfect TV mom. Some might even call her unconventional.
[00:18:04] However, it’s not all Lois’ fault. She has some wild kids that really make her job as a mom difficult. But in the end, the kids always get caught and Lois wins. When Malcolm in the Middle first came out, the Orlando Sentinel did an article about the show and said this about Lois. “She not only altered our perceptions of the perfect television family, but redefined the role of the sainted television mom as well.”
[00:18:36] When asked about TV moms, they quote her saying, “The TV mom I identify most with is Donna Reed, because I grew up in that era. What I really like about Lois is that she has depth. Mothers on television tend to not grow, they tend to be kind of wise, nodding, influencing kind of funny moms. Lois isn’t that. She yells and is [00:19:00] kind of the mouthpiece for the family. She’s just kind of normal.”
[00:19:04] Regardless of all the chaos that goes on in her household, Lois loves her kids. During the first season of the show Kaczmarek was pregnant and she had to hide her pregnant belly. She told TV Guide Online, “If you check out the shows, you can see me indulging in the fine art of keeping my tummy off camera.”
[00:19:26] She told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she was forced to hide behind chairs, frying pans, and refrigerator doors. She was also pregnant for a second time on the show in real life. Jane Kaczmarek has been nominated for multiple awards for her portrayal of Lois.
[00:19:45] Question nine. My show was first on TV in the late eighties. I’m part of a very blue collar family and I have quite the mouth on me. I’m loud, obnoxious, sloppy, and I yell at my kids quite a [00:20:00] bit. Who am I? I am Roseanne Conner on the show Roseanne. Actress Roseanne Barr plays TV mom Roseanne Conner, mom to four kids. The show centers around a lot of family dysfunction.
[00:20:15] However, the show addresses a broad range of issues that you may not see other TV mom’s take on. Judine Mayerle, professor of television at Marquette University and author of a 1991 essay on Roseanne in the Journal of Popular Culture, said this about the series. “It has broken new ground on the prime-time television stage where the players can never be too rich or too thin, where children and relatives are charming. It has given us instead, characters who are just getting by financially, who are overweight and not concerned about dieting and exercise, whose children and relatives are not always pleasant.”
[00:20:57] A 1997 Baltimore [00:21:00] Sun article quotes Sheri Parks, an associate dean and professor who teaches courses in television at the University of Maryland saying, “It was the first show I ever saw where people were talking about bills and wondering how they were going to pay them. Bills are not something TV families talked about.”
[00:21:20] Roseanne Barr won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of TV mom Roseanne.
[00:21:27] And question 10. I was on a show in the mid 2000’s. My family is upper middle class and I am bi-racial. My husband is African-American. I am an anesthesiologist. Who am I? I am Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson from the TV show Black-ish. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross plays TV mom Bow Johnson, mother of five children. Not only is she an anesthesiologist, the [00:22:00] Detroit News describes her as “A mom of five, struggling to provide a sense of cultural identity for their kids as the only black family on their upper middle-class Los Angeles block.”
[00:22:14] Essence calls her “The perfectly imperfect TV wife and working mom.” In the series when she is pregnant with her fifth child, Ross had to wear a prosthetic bump which was actually quite heavy. Heavy enough that she ended up at a chiropractor with neck pain. In the season three finale, the show branched out and went where most TV shows don’t go when it comes to pregnancy. 40 year old Bow was experiencing dangerously high blood pressure caused by preeclampsia and two months before her due date, she had to have an emergency C-section.
[00:22:53] An article on Refinery29 says, “On TV, pregnancy is often idealized and [00:23:00] treated like an experience that everyone goes through in the same way. It almost always ends in an overdramatized, but complication-free delivery scene with a healthy (and usually three months too old) baby to show for it. While it may not be a common scenario to see on a family comedy, life-threatening complications during pregnancy can and do happen.”
[00:23:25] And speaking of moms, here’s a fun fact about actress Tracee Ellis Ross. Her mom in real life is none other than singer Diana Ross. Tracee Ellis Ross has won multiple awards for her role on the series.
[00:23:41] Well, that was a look at just 10 TV moms. Each of those TV moms has a unique trait that makes them special to some TV fan out there. As we close out this episode, I’d like to wish all of the moms, a Happy Mother’s Day, including my own.
[00:24:00] [00:24:00] You can find Trivia Rewind on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and at triviarewind.com. Thanks for listening.