When a mother gets a long with her son or daughter in law, then everyone is happy. It’s when they don’t that things get interesting. There is something special about an aggravating mother in law. They are there to adore their children while giving their daughter or son in law’s a hard time. As hard a time as they can. Let’s look at my five favorite meddling mothers in laws.


#5. Mother Winslow (Family Matters)


Ok, I am cheating a bit. When we first met her in the pilot (and when she was referenced in Perfect Strangers) Mother Winslow was not a nice person. The family is dreading her visit and don’t want her to move in because she is such a nuisance. However, it didn’t take long for that to fade and she became a very likable grandmother figure. She was actually one of the best characters on Family Matters, and was one of the few people who openly respected and cared for Steve Urkel. She had a big love for life, actively dating and participating in any activity she could. Truth be told she could have easily been on yesterday’s list, but I’ll make a place for her here. Rosetta LeNoire was so great at being the sweet grandmother with a very grandmotherly smile, and it amazed me the way she could give a line about wanting to go on a hot date like she was a 16 year old with that same sweet smile!
#4. Ethyl Philips (Dinosaurs)


I realize many may not be familiar with Dinosaurs, but this was a great show and this character was one of my favorites. She was intended to be a one time character, but was so well done she became a regular part of the cast. She always had an insult for her dim witted brother in law Earl, and spent a lot of time complaining about things like how TV has ruined the world. She got one episode in which she visits the afterlife and when she returns starts talking about it. She is then warned to stop pushing it or else she would go to her private hell…a room full of Earl’s! Just a funny character and great mother in law. Oh, In case you’re wondering, the baby was my favorite character. Hey, maybe I should do a whole article on this show……


#3.Sylvia Buchman (Mad About You)


One of the things this show does not get appreciation for is the way Cynthia Harris played Paul’s mother. She clearly did not approve of Jamie, and drove her nuts with her little comments and criticisms. I never really understood the problem, guess no one was good enough for her son because she was definitely a meddling mother in law. She wasn’t all bad; I love a small scene she had in the episode where Paul and Jamie have a huge blow out where you can tell she knows something is wrong. Also in a Thanksgiving episode she actually did a nice thing for Jamie for Paul by not letting their dinner get ruined. She knows what it’s like to have a mother-in-law, besides it was a holiday.


#2 Endora (Bewitched)


This was the worst case scenarios of mother in laws! Not only did she hate Derwood (that is what she called Darrin), and not only was she popping over the house every time she wanted, but she also played all sorts of tricks on him. One of my favorites was the time she made him speak in only clichés. However, that was just the tip if the iceberg. Endora turned Darrin into things and altered his personality, all for her own amusement. She hated that her daughter had married a mortal and was determined to prove to Samantha that she had made a horrible mistake. However, Samantha and Darrin truly loved each other so no matter what she did it never worked. Agnes Moorhead created such a great character that she pretty much stole any scene she was in. How could a mother-in-law be worst?


#1. Marie Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond)


Who else could be #1? She is the perfect meddling mother in law. She visits the house every day, several times every day. She makes comments about her daughter in law from her cooking to the way she keeps her house to the way she raises her kids. She snoops around the house and even looks at their mail. She argues with Debra and usually takes Ray’s side. The worst thing is that she is so insecure, that everyone is afraid to stand up to her. Doris Roberts did a great job making a character which should have been despised actually likeable. I could be here all day listing examples of her meddling, but suffice to say as far as horrible mothers in laws go, no one could touch her.


Honorable mentions include Mother Jefferson on The Jefferson’s (who truly belongs on this list since she was always horrible to Louise). Some other meddling mothers include Arthur Carlson’s on WKRP and Cliff Clavins on Cheers.



Happy Mother’s Day!

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