I know the line between grandmother and mother-in-law is pretty gray, but I’m going to give it a shot. Today I will be talking about my favorite grandmother’s, and tomorrow will go into the ladies who are more known as mothers-in-law. As I said the line does blur, but I will try explain my reasoning. So if your favorite isn’t on this list she may be on tomorrows. Let’s focus on some funny sitcom grandmothers.

Grandmothers are called that for a reason; they have been there and done that raising their kids. Now they can just relax and enjoy, but leave the real dirty to work to their children. Well, in theory anyway. On TV the grandmother’s do more than just sit in rocking chairs knitting. They get involved, help as much as they can, and some of them even get out and have some fun. The only rule for this list is that the character has to be a regular or recurring part of the cast, appearing in more than a handful or episodes.


#5. Yetta Rosenberg (The Nanny)

Breaking my rule a bit because she wasn’t exactly regular, but she popped up so much she may as well have been. Of course Sylvia was the real nuisance, but she was Fran’s mother that is why Yetta gets on the list. However the two of them made a very funny pair. Yetta was a little nuts and would pop up in the oddest places, but she was always good for a laugh. She was also great for complicating the plot in several episodes.
#4. Beverly Harris (Roseanne)

Remember when your grandmother drove you crazy by being annoying? Well, Bev certainly personified that. She had that annoying voice and strange advice; you could really understand why Dan and Roseanne didn’t like having her around very often. Of course as the series got darker so did Bev, she became an alcoholic and then a lesbian. But the early days were classic, has there ever been a more annoying grandmother?


#3. Thelma Harper (Mama’s Family)


True Thelma Harper is more known as a mother, but on Mama’s Family she was also a grandmother to Bubba so I decided that she qualifies for this list. Thelma was tough as nails with a sharp tongue. However her family respected her. They relied on her for wisdom and strength, which is why her son Vint and grandson Bubba still live with her. They know despite all the teasing and insults, she would watch out for them. Of course Vicki Lawrence did a fantastic job on this character which originated on The Carol Burnett Show, but that is a subject for another day.


#2.  Mona Robinson (Who’s The Boss?)

It’s was always refreshing to see a grandmother who still liked to have fun. She went out with guys and fooled around, and lived life. She was a bit hard on her daughter sure, but we knew that deep down their was mutual respect and love between the two. There is one episode where Jonathan is upset his grandmother can’t be more like regular grandmothers. Mona explains that she tried that, but it didn’t take. She had a true love for life and enjoyed herself every minute. If only people in the real world could learn that. I have praised Katharine Helmond in another article, so I will leave it at that.

#1. Sophia Petrillo (The Golden Girls)

America’s favorite grandmother, when this show was on the air anyway. Sure she had an acid tongue and was always ready with a quick remark. Sophia was truly loved, not just by Dorothy but by Rose and Blanche who came to feel as if she were her own mother. She had the courage to speak up, even going so far as disciplining Blanche’s grandson in one episode when Blanche seemed unable to. Sophia was always ready with an insult, originally this was due to a stroke but as the series evolved it just sort of became her personality. Estelle Getty did a fantastic job with this character. Sophia was so popular she appeared in an episode of Blossom in a fantasy sequence and became a permanent cast member in the later years of Empty Nest.


Honorable Mention:

Granny (The Beverly Hillbillies)


Had to mention this classic grandmother. Pretty sure she didn’t originate the character of the fun but cranky grandmother, but she may have been one of the first to become well known for it. Irene Ryan created a character so memorable and likable that even though I have hardly watched the show, I am very familiar with her. She was real funny, even if she got confused at times being a bit nearsighted. But she held her own and how many grandmothers wield twelve-gauge shotguns? She was actually Jed’s mother in law, which almost qualifies her for tomorrow’s list.


Also there was Betty Johnson, Cherie’s grandmother, on Punky Brewster, Pearl on 227, and Anna on The Cosby Show.


All of these grandmother’s are nice for the most part, oh sure there may be some wisecracks here and there but deep down they love their families and their families love them. Tomorrow I will look at the other side of the coin, my five favorite pain in the neck mothers in law.

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