The 19 Most Relatable TV Working Moms of the Moment

Jane the Virgin billboard

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Working Mother
Audrey Goodson Kingo via Working Mother
May 25, 2024 at 7:39AM UTC
We're really digging TV right now—it's a golden era for smart, nuanced depictions of working moms. Tune into almost every channel or streaming service and you'll find a riveting show with a flawed, funny, smart and badass working mother at its center.
While the women below are very, very different, they have two uniting characteristics: They work damn hard and they love their kids. We can't think of anything more relatable than that.

1. Audrey Holloway (Alison Bell) from The Letdown (Netflix)

This Aussie comedy milks the oft-bizarre world of new motherhood for plenty of laughs, like when new mom Audrey ends up bargaining with her friendly neighborhood drug dealer just so she can stay parked in his spot (and, crucially, keep her 2-month-old sleeping). Her struggles to get back on her feet, and later, to work, make this new show (it debuted in April) one of the most relatable on TV.

2. Sharon Morris (Sharon Horgan) of Catastrophe (Amazon)

What happens when a one night stand leads to parenthood? While the title of the show seems like a pretty big hint, Irish schoolteacher Sharon and Boston ad exec Rob prove it’s not quite the catastrophe they anticipated—although there are plenty of hilarious bumps along the journey. Season 4, which should roll out soon, will pick up right where the last one ended, with Rob and Sharon’s marriage on the rocks, and Sharon struggling to decide when to return to work. (We feel ya.)

3. Ali Wong, Hard Knock Wife (Netflix)

Ali Wong won our hearts forever with her first stand-up special, Baby Cobra, featuring the seven-and-a-half-months pregnant comedian cracking jokes about everything from her fertility struggles to favorite porn. Somehow she managed to top that LOL-performance in her second special, Hard Knock Wife, released in May, where, pregnant again, she drops lines like, “When you’re a mom, you need sparkle to compensate for the light inside of you that has died.”

4. Ruby Hill (Retta) of Good Girls (NBC)

Ruby, a waitress struggling to pay for her daughter’s kidney disease treatments, gets pulled into a life of crime after a desperate heist-gone-too-right turns into a heist gone really, really wrong. Come for the fun criminal hijinks, but stay for the heart-wrenching scenes of Ruby caring for her sick daughter.

5. Annie Marks (Mae Whitman) of Good Girls (NBC)

Annie is a member of the trio (along with SAHM Beth, played by Christina Hendricks) that holds up the grocery store where she works as a cashier. But like Ruby, Annie has a heartbreaking excuse: her mortgage is in default, and she’s about to lose custody of her kid. The show just wrapped up Season 1, and was renewed for a second spin. We're eager to see how these savvy moms manage the mess they've stumbled into, now that they're in debt to a gang kingpin.

6. Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy/Olivia Colman) of The Crown (Netflix)

Queen Elizabeth II had to navigate new motherhood under a spotlight while helping her country rebuild in the wake of WWII. Her poise is an inspiration to hard-working moms everywhere. Though we’ll miss Claire Foy’s award-winning portrayal, we’re looking forward to Olivia Colman’s turn as a 10-years-older monarch in Season 3, set to air later this year.

7. Bridgette Bird (Frankie Shaw) of SMILF (Showtime)

Frankie Shaw writes, directs and stars in this clever comedy about perpetually-down-on-her-luck single mom Bridgette. The stellar supporting cast—including Rosie O’Donnell and Connie Britton—help the show paint a vivid portrait of working-class Boston, but Frankie’s struggles to find and keep a job while taking care of her son will resonate no matter your zip code. Look for Season 2 to premiere sometime this fall.

8. Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) of Jane the Virgin (CW)

Season 4 ended with a heck of a cliffhanger: Just as Jane’s current flame and father to her young son was about to propose, we discover her husband, Michael, might not have died after all. We can’t wait to find out who Jane ultimately ends up with—and what career path she decides to pursue.

9. Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) of Riverdale (CW)

A perfectionist who’s protective, tough and holds her two daughters to very high standards, Alice Cooper is the epitome of the Type A mom. She’s also great at investigating, both as the editor of her town’s local paper The Register and, of course, as a mom.

10. June Osborne/Offred (Elisabeth Moss) of The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

While there’s much about The Handmaid’s Tale—a dystopian world where women have no power over their lives or bodies—that feels eerily possible, it’s Season 2's glimpses of Offred’s previous life as June Osborne that’s disturbing for working moms in particular. In one episode when her daughter gets sick at school and June doesn’t answer her cell phone, an official badgers her with judgmental questions in a way that will leave you nodding in furious recognition.

11. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) of Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

Everyone’s favorite doctor and mother of three is now the head of general surgery at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. We’ll expect more of the usual heart-pounding drama, and hopefully another love interest for hard-working mom Meredith in Season 15. She’s earned it!

12. Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) from One Day at a Time (Netflix)

This update to the popular late 70s show has won over TV critics and fans alike, and no wonder: It stars Justina Machado as a Cuban-American military vet single mom working shifts as a nurse while raising a teenage son and daughter. Like it’s tough heroine, the show deftly handles complicated issues, like PTSD and sexism.

13. Dr. Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) on Black-ish (ABC)

Did we say Meredith Grey is everyone’s favorite doctor? Because this anesthesiologist and mom of five could give Dr. Grey a run for her money. Season 4 just endeared her to us even more, as she struggled with postpartum depression, and saving her marriage. We'll be rooting for her and Dre.

14. Christy Plunkett (Anna Faris) on Mom (CBS)

Any woman who has a complicated relationship with her mother (and who doesn’t?) will feel for Christy, a single mom working as a waitress while restarting her life after a tough stint with drug and alcohol addiction, who often has to play the adult for her own recovering mom. Season 5 ended with Christy admitting she has a gambling addiction—and getting accepted into law school—setting up the perfect internal battle.

15. Jessica Huang (Constance Wu) in Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)

It’s been a pleasure to watch working mom Jessica as her real-estate career has taken off, so we’re happy to hear this delightful family sitcom will be back for a season five, premiering October 5, 2018.

16. DJ Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure) on Fuller House (Netflix)

There are plenty of reasons besides nostalgia to catch up with Deej and company. When hijinx aren’t ensuing, the “gluten-free soccer mom” to three boys is busy taking care of pets at the clinic alongside her cute new coworker.

17. Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) on Shades of Blue (NBC)

In the third and final season of this riveting crime drama, Jennifer Lopezcontinues her spot-on portrayal of a badass single mom and NYPD detective who is coerced into working for the FBI's anti-corruption task force. We already know she’ll do anything to protect her daughter—but how far will she have to go?

18. Sheila Hammond (Drew Barrymore) on Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)

Sure, this darkly funny horror-comedy is packed with plenty of grisly scenes—mom Shelia (played by Barrymore) is a zombie who needs human flesh to survive, after all—but it’s also loaded with witty insights about marriage, motherhood and life in the suburbs.

19. Liza Miller (Sutton Foster) on Younger (TV Land)

In Season 5, on the air now, Liza's secret is finally out—her boss just discovered that the gorgeous divorced mom is actually 40-something. Later, an exchange between the two gets heated—in more ways than one. It looks like longtime fans will finally get to see this long-simmering romance heading somewhere!

This article originally appeared on Working Mother.

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