Since its debut in 2009, Modern Family has won the Emmy for best comedy five times, but the show’s greatest legacy is actually the innovative wave of family comedies it ushered in at ABC. At no point in recent memory has the network boasted as deep a bench of family-focused sitcoms as it does now; particularly Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs, The Real O'Neals, Speechless, and The Middle — six joyous shows that represent a broad swath of America, past and present.
And while each offers a slightly different version of the nuclear family, they're all led by women anyone would be proud to call "mom." There's Wendi McLendon-Covey's well-meaning but undeniably overbearing Beverly on The Goldbergs, Constance Wu's proud yet critical Jessica on Fresh Off the Boat, Minnie Driver's headstrong and assertive Maya on Speechless, Tracee Ellis Ross's lovingly honest and brilliant Bow on Black-ish, Martha Plimpton's resolved yet inquisitive Eileen on The Real O'Neals, and Patricia Heaton's all-seeing Frankie on The Middle.
They're deeply developed women of humor, complexity, and compassion, whose presence makes this world a slightly less scary place. And what more could you ask for in a mother, TV or otherwise? —J.W.