It’s almost Thanksgiving! Will you spend it with your mother? Does this make you happy? Excited? Prepared to stash a gallon of wine in your childhood bedroom? And, really: Have you gained weight? Admit it, you’ve gained weight. Why don’t you have a better job yet? And when are you planning to have a second baby? She’s not getting any younger, you know.
Regardless of whether family togetherness fills you with glee or dread, take heart: If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother, as this list proves. Behold, the top Jewish moms of all time. They worry, they pry, they smother, but they only mean well. After all, they do it out of love. And they’re pretty hilarious, too.
Judy Geller, “Friends,” played by Christina Pickles
Poor Monica could do no right: Her career as a chef was embarrassing, her ears were too big, her love life was pathetic and she could never measure up to her successful older brother, Ross. Definitely someone who would substitute your stuffing for hers, re-set your dining room table, plump your pillows and suggest that your child cut back on the pie. It’s never too early to diet!
Good for: Post-party clean-up; grilling your sibling’s unsavory new date; stoking sibling inferiority complexes.
Naomi Bunch, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” played by Tovah Feldshuh
This zesty lady can be a passive-aggressive, hypercritical nightmare, but she’s also a powerhouse single mom who tells it like it is. And she really, really needs to use the bathroom! This performance is sublime. It belongs on Broadway. Or at your dinner table.
Good for: Persistent nudging over career aspirations; bursting into song when the conversation hits a lull.
Bobbi Wexler, “Broad City,” played by Susie Essman
The kind of friend-mom you can hang out and get manicures with. She even makes choking at a restaurant look kind of fun. Down-to-earth; bawdy; accessible.
Good for: Comic relief when the talk turns to politics or obscure health woes.
Estelle Costanza, “Seinfeld,” played by Estelle Harris
George’s mother was a shrill fireball of nagging and neuroses, but she was also charmingly naive. Take, for instance, her attendance at a dinner party where she tries to sip merlot for the first time. “I’ve never heard of it! Did they just invent it!” she squeaked, to George’s mortification. Definitely not someone who would critique your sweet potato casserole (unless she thought it might poison her, of course).
Good for: Awestruck amazement at your worldly decision to brine a turkey for the first time.
Joan Rivers, “Fashion Police,” played by Joan Rivers
The ultimate sassy, spicy, throaty, tell-it-like-it-is Mother to Us All. She could spar with Miss Piggy or Boy George; the Kardashians or Cyndi Lauper. She could discuss waxing with RuPaul or sex with Sarah Silverman. She was genuine, authentic and fearless…and not above a little bit of awkward dancing, if the mood struck.
Good for: Disarming surly relatives; gossiping about wayward family members; Black Friday shopping advice.