11 TV Moms Who Show Us What Being Kickass Women Is All About

Maressa Brown | Jan 26, 2017 TV

Even though TV is a fantastic form of escapism, we always want to see ourselves in the characters we follow on our favorite shows. Thankfully, we've seen independent, strong moms on television for decades. From early '90s single mom Murphy Brown to modern TV moms like Jane the Virgin's Xiomara Villanueva who have broken stereotypes with their plot lines, you've gotta applaud fictional feminist moms of the small screen. 

We've rounded up 11 of these badass female characters who embody the expression, "You do you." Here are just a few of the TV moms who have proven themselves to be total feminists over the years.  

  • Xiomara Villanueva

    1

    On Jane the Virgin, Xiomara Villanueva (played by Andrea Navedo) is a proud, self-assured mom and grandma who's fiercely in touch with her sexuality and loves with all of her heart. She recently got pregnant after a one-night stand with a sleazy telenovela star. Having made the choice not to have any more kids earlier in the season, Xio exercised her right to choose and had an abortion. She was supported by most of the characters, but ended up having to defend her decision to her mom Alba. And she did it without any shred of guilt.

    "For every woman, abortion is a different choice, and they go through different emotions," Jane showrunner Jennie Snyder-Urman told Vanity Fair. "I've seen a lot of the torment and the torture of making that choice or considering that choice, but what I hadn't seen is that some women who make that choice are relieved."

  • Leslie Knope

    2

    Played by Amy Poehler (who, really, can do no wrong), Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope was a complete badass, empowered mom of triplets. From her Betty Friedan references to her ability to throw shade at white male US senators, she will always be a feminist hero.

  • Lorelai Gilmore

    3

    On Gilmore Girls and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Lorelai Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham) is a fast-talking, small town–loving mom who's basically her daughter Rory's BFF. But she's also so much more. The mere fact that Lorelai moved to Stars Hollow as a teen mom and worked her way up from maid to owner of her own inn is inspiring. She's independent, outspoken, and free-spirited. Just look at how she treated her Wild-inspired expedition in the revival!  

  • Harriette Winslow

    4

    In the '90s, Family Matters dominated Friday night TV and is still one of the longest-running shows featuring a black cast. The sitcom starred Jo Marie Payton as Harriette Winslow. As a strong mom of three in Chicago, Harriette juggled her family life with a director of security job at the Chicago Chronicle.

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  • Paula Proctor

    5

    On this musical sitcom, Donna Lynne Champlin plays Rebecca Bunch's West Covina bestie Paula Proctor. Paula's been a fiery, no-nonsense TV mom throughout Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but the show made headlines last year when the character chose to have an abortion in order to go to law school and take care of her two teens. The way Champlin portrayed the moment on the the show has been called refreshing and honest and "normalizing, not dramatizing."

  • Miranda Hobbes

    6

    Cynthia Nixon's portrayal of tough lawyer and loyal bestie Miranda Hobbes on Sex and the City has never failed to make us laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously. Miranda was always unfailingly independent, assertive, and sex positive. When she decided to have baby Brady with Steve (even though the two weren't together when she got pregnant), she became the first mom in the SATC squad. She juggled her demanding career, social life, love and sex life, and motherhood. Goals! 

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  • Murphy Brown

    7

    Portrayed by Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown was the star reporter on a news magazine show -- and also the mom of a little boy named Avery. In the early '90s, the character got pregnant with her ex-husband who didn't want to be a parent, so Murphy decided to go it solo. The plot line stirred a ton of debate over family values and single parenthood, which may seem ridiculously uptight and antiquated these days, but made Murphy Brown even more of an independent, feminist hero in our eyes. 

  • Cookie Lyon

    8

    On Empire, Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie Lyon, who is pretty much the definition of a badass feminist matriarch. Cookie is a mom of three successful black men and "in any one episode, the shameless jezebel, nurturing mammy and aggressive bitch, flawed and complicated, as fully human as a two-dimensional character on a TV screen can be," notes Lola Okolosie in the Guardian

  • Rayna Jaymes

    9

    Nashville star Rayna James, played by Connie Britton, is known for being fiercely protective of her two daughters Maddie and Daphne. She also has no problem constantly standing up for her needs in relationships and work, as she faces confrontations and emotional issues with the various men in her life, from her ex Deacon Claybourne to manipulative label CEO Jeff Fordham

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  • Sharon Morris

    10

    Sharon Morris, played by Sharon Horgan, is the leading lady of funny Amazon show Catastrophe. In the spirit of Fools Rush In, Londoner Sharon and Bostonite Rob Norris have a casual hookup, Sharon gets pregnant, and by season 2, the pair is figuring out how to balance their relationship with not one but two little kiddos. Sharon's an unapologetically feminist mom who mixes her pull-no-punches sense of humor with parenthood. She calls other moms at the playground "mombies," is honest about not bonding with her second baby right off the bat, and is constantly asserting herself (sometimes harshly, other times in a playful way) with Rob. Oh, and she's hilarious.

  • Mindy Lahiri

    11

    In the Mindy Project pilot, ob-gyn Mindy Lahiri (played by Mindy Kaling) leaves a date to go take care of one of her patients. That just about sums up how big-hearted, driven, and amazing she is in her work life. She's also sex- and body-positive, and a mom (to adorable baby boy Leo) who recently broke things off with her fiancé Danny. (After all, who needs a baby daddy who tries to trick someone into getting pregnant without her consent? Ew!)

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