Mothers are all over the small screen, both in high-profile, prime-time spots and on more obscure outlets.
Good mothers, indifferent mothers, confused mothers, condemnable mothers. Take your pick.
It was, for instance, a water-shed moment on CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” one of the fall’s best new comedies. Last week, the title character, Rebecca (Rachel Bloom), finally went head-to-head with her equally crazy mother, who until now had been heard but was largely unseen.
Mom, caustically embodied by Tovah Feldshuh, traveled across the country to visit Rebecca in her new home in California, and the collision was delicious.
So, too, was last week’s three-generation mother-fest on the CBS series “Mom,” which continues to be among network television’s sharpest sitcoms.
Whenever Violet (Sadie Calvano), her mom (Anna Faris) and her mom (Allison Janney) have a scene together, the emotional baggage is on full display, and their sit-down early in the episode — Violet announcing that she had something important to discuss; the other two riffing on what it could be — was a gem.
All of these mom-playing actresses probably drew inspiration from one of television’s most memorable mothers, the one Roseanne Barr played for nine seasons, beginning in 1988, on “Roseanne.”
Barr is still working the mom thing, sort of: She’s host of a lowbrow crime series called “Momsters: When Moms Go Bad,” which returned for its second season last week on the Investigation Discovery channel.
Barr cracks wise while introducing true-crime tales about mothers who lost their bearings and ran afoul of the law, generally in order to protect, provide for or pamper their children.
In the season opener, one mom turned a little too stalker-ish when a young man dumped her college-age daughter. Another resorted to insurance fraud to help feed the young mouths in her household. Interviews and tawdry re-creations tell the stories, and Barr seems mighty comfortable in the host chair.
Television can’t even hold all of the mothers who have something to say. Two of the most amusing moms to be found lately are on “47 Secrets to a Younger You,” a Web series that went live a few weeks ago.
It was created by Laura Frenzer and Rohana Kenin and features them playing mothers not unlike themselves: 40-something Brooklynites trying to fight off the gravitational pull that can cause parents to disappear into their child-rearing roles.
Frenzer is Julie, a single mother who recites daily mantras and tries to work the dating scene into her schedule while constantly being reminded that she is no longer in her 20s. (Defining ego-deflating moment: In her job as a waitress, she asks two irritating young women who order drinks for identification, but when they hand it over, she can’t read it; her eyesight is no longer good enough.)
Kenin is Karma, who is married but has just as many conflicting feelings and demands on her time.
One of the six episodes finds her fretting that she doesn’t draw the attention of men or, really, anyone anymore. (“I’ve reached the age of invisibility.”)
Another episode finds her inspecting her children for head lice. These installments, each five minutes or so, are sketches of motherhood in hipster land, droll and kind of bittersweet.
At this point, you might be asking: Whatever happened to fathers? They, too, have a new and different Web series, called “Baby Talk.” It’s an Internet version of a Los Angeles stage show in which Dan Levy, the host and a relatively new parent, invites three celebrities, generally comedians, to swap jokes and observations about the art of being a parent, then brings on a young child to join in the conversation. Levy takes particular pleasure in asking the child how old he or she thinks the panelists are.
“I think he’s in his 60s, 50s or 70s,” a 7-year-old named Alexander says in Episode 2. He’s talking about Jason Mantzoukas, who is 42.