With the recent passings of iconic TV parents Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver) and Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham on Happy Days), it feels like a good time to let our television elders know that we care. Rather than list all the great moms and dads on screen, we decided to pick the parents who would be best for us. Here are the TV parents we wish would adopt us.
Mom: Roseanne Conner, (Roseanne Barr) from Roseanne
Roseanne has a reputation for being loud, brash, and mean—because she is. But she’s also a fiercely protective, devoted parent. Sure, some of her kids hit some rough patches, but they turned out okay in the end. I’d like to think Roseanne had something to do with that. Throughout the series she proved that despite her rudeness and apathy, she was always there for her children. She spoke to them candidly about sex and drugs, never pretended to be perfect (what a laugh that would be), and encouraged all her kids to embrace their true selves. - Louis Peitzman
Mom and Dad: Hariette (Judyann Elder and Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) from Family Matters
Although they should've locked their front door more often, Family Matters' Carl and Harriette Winslow would have to be my TV dream parents. Not only could they afford an enormous house on the combined salary of a cop and a security guard, they also never actually seemed to go to work. Every day at the Winslow house was an intergenerational banter-fest where grandparents and toddlers alike got in on the action. Even better, Carl and Harriette's gruff but sassy parenting would've taught me all kinds of lessons while keeping my heart warm at the same time. And you better believe I would've listened... We all know what happened to Judy. - Price Peterson
Mom: Joyce Wrigley (Judy Grafe) from The Adventures of Pete and Pete
I love the Mom from Pete and Pete because she was always an oddball, perfectly suited to raising her oddball sons. She had a metal plate in her head that was a separate character on the show, but you never saw her boohooing about it! Nope, instead she used it to get radio stations, eavesdrop on phone conversations, and just generally spice up life in the suburbs. What a positive attitude! Plus she loved her weirdo sons for who they were, and any mom that lets her eight-year-old son get a tattoo on his forearm of a dancing woman (Petunia, also a character on the show), is the Mom for me. - Emily Gordon
Mom and Dad: Tami (Connie Britton) and Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) from Friday Night Lights
Look, Coach and Mrs. Coach are the most functional married couple on TV today, and some of the most competent parents. They're supportive of their kids without being overbearing. They're stern when they need to be, but not above admitting they've made mistakes. Plus they're local celebrities, which must make for some entertaining stories. I mean, I love my parents to death, but in my mind no other TV parents come close to the Taylors. - Steve Heisler
Dad: Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) from The Cosby Show
Dr. Huxtable would be the perfect Dad for me, because I was a bit of a rebellious child and could have used a funny, tough-love parent to keep me in line. Not only did Cliff require a certain level of respect from anyone who came into his home, but he also spent a lot of time and effort doing bits with his wife and kids. Remember when Claire pretended she hated Sondra's fiancee Elvin to play a prank on Cliff, only to have Cliff figure out the prank and throw Elvin out of the house in a fit of fake rage? That would have livened up my childhood for sure. Plus I would have learned a lot of important lessons. - E.G.
Mom: Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) from Gilmore Girls
How is it possible for a 16-year-old with a GED, a sharp tongue, and a fierce sense of independence to raise Rory (Alexis Bledel), a Yale graduate and successful journalist, without the help of her stuffy, judgemental parents? Well, it’s not possible, because it’s television. But Lorelai’s quick thinking, wicked stubbornness, and impeccable fashion sense got me to tune in for all seven years of Gilmore Girls and root for her usually-awkward, always-well-deserved success. Plus, ending up with Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) as my actual TV dad would be pretty sweet. - Stefanie Lee
Mom: Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Even before Joyce knew and embraced Buffy’s “alternative lifestyle” as a vampire slayer, she was a pretty kick-ass mom. Let’s not forget it was Joyce who knocked out Spike in “School Hard.” I’ll admit I wasn’t too keen on Mrs. Summers in Season 1 when she grounded Buffy on the regular. Oh, and there was that whole demon-possession incident in “Gingerbread” when she nearly burned her daughter at the stake. Come to think of it, I’m not sure when I decided Joyce was a good mother: I just know I feel a lot of affection for her. Maybe that has something to do with her—spoiler alert—untimely death. Still not over it. - L.P.
Dad: Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller from Seinfeld)
Okay, I don’t actually want Frank Costanza to be my dad. That would be unbearable. I mean, this is the guy who, along with the unforgettably shrill Estelle (Estelle Harris), belittled his son George (Jason Alexander) so much that he grew up to be a spineless, selfish, generally non-contributing member of society. But I admit I am insanely curious to see what it’s like to celebrate Festivus, hold a grudge against the Seinfelds, invent the Manssiere, speak fluent Korean, and spend my golden years in the sunny locale of Del Boca Vista, Florida. - S.L.
Mom and Dad: Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith) from That 70s Show
Had I a tad more discipline in my life, I could have been President, a Fortune 500 CEO, or a real TV critic. That's why I'm going with Red, one of the sternest parental units TV has ever seen. I'd wake up in the morning to the smell of Kitty's scrambled eggs and the sounds of Red screaming "Dumbass!" and love every minute of it. And when I needed to be rescued from Dad's evil eye I'd run off to Kitty. Plus, it would be cool to get grounded by the bad guy in Robocop and have ganja parties in the basement thanks to the elder Formans' incredible lack of olfactory sense. - Tim Surette
Mom and Dad:Clair (Phylicia Rashad) and Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) from The Cosby Show
This is honestly such a tough call for me. There are so many options! How awesome would it be to play tambourine and sing back up for your mom, Shirley Partridge? Or learn how to start and stop time from your alien dad who you talk to every night through a crystal diamond-y light shining box? And Punky Brewster also really scored with her adoptive parent Henry - the biggest curmudgeon with the biggest heart of gold! Or the two dads from My Two Dads! And I would have to have Murphy Brown for a mom, just cause, well, she's Murphy Brown. But, if I had to choose, ultimately, for one complete set of prescribed perfect good times parents, I'd choose Clair and Cliff Huxtable. Clair could impart her wisdom upon me of how to be a smart, confident, witty, graceful, impeccably stylish woman and I could, on a regular basis, soak up the comic genius of Papa Cos over late night snacks. Perhaps some pudding pops? - Ilana Diamond
Which TV parents would pick to raise you?