In our list series, ‘Gang of Five’, we make a list of five things related to … whatever we like. Online Editorial Assistant Jessica Alice shares her favourite TV mums. Spoilers ahead!

Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

As mother of the slayer (and Dawn, I guess?), Kristine Sutherland’s Joyce Summers had a bumpy ride for the first few seasons. She had a seemingly delinquent kid who burned down school buildings and got into bloody fights. Despite all these challenges, she is one of the most sympathetic and bad-arse characters in the series. In ‘School Hard’ (s02e03) she threatens Spike with an axe, Ripley-style (‘Get the hell away from my daughter!’). And in everyone’s favourite Ethan Rayne episode ‘Band Candy’ (s03e06), Joyce and Giles are the hottest, coolest couple after eating candy laced with magic (or something) causing them to act like rebellious teenagers. Joyce is also a museum curator, which is one hella cool job that makes house parties pretty spooky. Joyce’s last episode ‘The Body’ (s05e15) has to go down as one of the saddest episodes in television history. Prepare the tissues.

Tie: Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos) and Cheryl West (Outrageous Fortune)

Controversial! New Zealand’s crime family/comedy/drama show Outrageous Fortune will never make it into the holy TV canon that The Sopranos basically invented, but both offered up kick-arse, no-nonsense matriarchs.

Robyn Malcolm’s Cheryl West is mother to Pascalle, Lorette, Van and Jethro. Malcolm is beloved in NZ and has won TV Guide’s best actress six years running for the role, as well as NZ’s sexiest woman (LOL?) award in 2007. Cheryl owns an underwear company called Hoochie Mama, which is really just a hilarious business name.

carmelaEdie Falco’s Carmela Soprano, mother to Anthony Jr. and Meadow, is a source of legitimacy for the family but proves she’s got mobster-wife game when it’s required. Despite all the crap that comes with being a woman in an uber-patriarchal organisation, Carmela always holds her own. She also has several intense romantic almost-encounters with her priest, a painter-decorator and her husband’s ‘workmate’ Furio. Also EDIE FREAKIN’ FALCO.

Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)

Jessica Walter’s Lucille Bluth is mother to Gob, Michael and Buster, and adoptive mother to Lindsay and Hel-loh (‘Annyong’). This selection of her best quotes speaks for itself:

Lucille: Get me a vodka rocks.
Michael: Mom, it’s breakfast.
Lucille: And a piece of toast.

Buster: Mother, have you seen my rubber hand?
Lucille: It’s in the dishwasher. Your father and I were using it for something.

Lucille: I’ve been drinking since before you were born. So if alcohol is the reason I’m here, I got news for you, bub: it’s the only reason you’re here too.

[George Sr. & Lucille are in different cars. They almost crash]
George Sr.: Up yours, granny!
Lucille: You couldn’t handle it!

Lucille: Let me tell you something, sweetie. We may pick on each other, get into little scrapes, call each other names and occasionally steal from each other, but that’s because we are family.

Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

Lauren Graham’s Lorelai is a quirky and witty single parent raising a quirky and witty teenage daughter, Rory. Together they are quirky and witty and have potentially the fastest dialogue in all of TV land. Lorelai often struggles with the dilemmas of parenthood: being either too strict or too much of a BFF to Rory, attending her own needs too much or not enough, and trying to get the dating thing right. Making mistakes is often what Gilmore Girls is all about, and the characters always come out of situations a little wiser. From the beginning of the series Lorelai made the ultimate sacrifice for her daughter: committing to Friday night dinners with her rich, judgemental parents so that Rory can go to a fancy school. She also feels very strongly about coffee.

monasimpsonMona Simpson (The Simpsons) with honourable mention to Marge Simpson.

Mona is mother to Homer Simpson and was voiced by several different actors including Her Majesty Glenn Close. Mona was a 1960s housewife until she saw Joe Namth’s long flowing hair at the Super Bowl and became a political activist. She was constantly on the run from the law after destroying the biological warfare experiments in Monty Burns’ laboratory. Not only was she a righteous babe, she was kind-hearted, too. She was only identified from the incident because she stopped to help a fallen Burns. Mona is a recurring character throughout many seasons of The Simpsons, with ‘Mother Simpson’ (s07e08) widely considered one of the most touching episodes of all time. Mona reunites with Homer, but is soon tracked down by Burns and the FBI. She has to leave Homer once again, and the episode finishes with Homer sitting on his car, looking up at the stars.