When the 2006-2007 television season began, there were plenty of reasons to celebrate. Storylines on several TV shows ("Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives," "Medium," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "What About Brian" and "Brothers & Sisters") prominently featured working mothers. Throughout the season, fictional moms seemed to be on a roll. They tried, with various degrees of success, to navigate careers while attempting to make sure their kids made it through their days relatively intact.
However, in the cases of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Brothers & Sisters," some of those mother-centric storylines disappeared as the seasons progressed, while "What About Brian" and "Desperate Housewives" propelled new working parent stories forward, and "Medium" and "Old Christine" touched on work-related stories intermittently. So, as we approach the hype of the season finale madness, Mommy Track'd decided to check in on where some working mom storylines are on your favorite TV shows.
Grey's Anatomy: Miranda, Miranda, Miranda.
This show's first few episodes had the most compellingly honest portrayals of working motherhood on television in the character of Dr. Miranda Bailey. Bailey - who recently had a baby - struggled with insecurity about how work would affect her child, as well as whether her male colleagues would think she'd lost her edge because she'd joined the mommy set. In powerhouse November episodes, Bailey vigorously defended her surgical career while still taking time to croon a lullaby into the phone to her son.
In one of those episodes, Bailey, Callie Torres and Addison Shepherd discussed having children and the impact of parenthood on one's career. When Torres glibly said she wanted a dozen kids, Bailey responded by saying, "One's enough, unless you plan to put away your scalpel." Meredith Grey - who, while growing up, felt like a nuisance to her high-powered surgeon mother - embodied the role of the child of a career mom, remarking, "People who want to have high-powered careers, I get that. But they should think twice about having kids." Later in that same episode, a hard-charging attorney gave voice to the other side of the coin, tearfully saying, "I'm no good at the mom stuff. I'm good at my job."
And after such a substantive build-up, "Grey's" virtually ignored the working mom storyline and dropped nearly all references to Bailey's kid in 2007.
Desperate Housewives: Lynette Made a Choice.
For the first handful of episodes of this season's "Desperate Housewives," resident working mom, Lynette Scavo was bogged down with a ridiculous plot involving her husband Tom's former flame and the product of that union, a little, obnoxious girl. We heard precious little about Lynette's work until she was wounded in a grocery store shooting in a November ratings stunt. This led to the life-altering decision, as Lynette left her advertising executive post to help Tom run the family's new pizzeria. "When I got shot and I was lying there bleeding, I wasn't thinking, 'God, I'm really gonna miss advertising,'" Lynette told Tom, calling her decision to work with Tom "the best thing that's ever happened to our family."
By January, Lynette's story was finally back on the working mom track. But as soon as she and Tom opened the restaurant, Lynette's character became one of two things: Meek in the face of Tom's bossiness, or rebellious in the face of Tom's bossiness. The issues of having a dual career household and childcare snafus were rarely addressed, and the children were rarely seen, which was surprising, given that the reason Lynette joined Tom was ostensibly to spend time with her family. Childcare only resurrected as an issue recently after Tom -- flat on his back after suffering an injury -- alienated neighbor/babysitter Mrs. McCluskey, who dumped the five kids off at the pizzeria where the rug rats proceeded to wreak havoc and stress out Lynette.
Here's to hoping that we get the tough, career mom Lynette back in the final episodes of season three.
Brothers & Sisters: Paging Working Mom Sarah Whedon.
This new show started to gain traction on the working mom front through its character Sarah Whedon, freshly installed as the president of her family's fruit business after the death of her father. Relatively early in its first season, Sarah was seen rushing out from a late night at the office in an unsuccessful attempt to buy school supplies for her daughter, failing to notice her daughter becoming sick because she was so harried between work and home, and, about a month ago, attending couples therapy with her at-home husband Joe. Strong working mom role model. Imperfect. Hounded by real world problems. So far, so good.
But then in the past month, "Brothers & Sisters" has been preoccupied with the discovery and subsequent meeting of a half-sister who none of Sarah's siblings knew existed. Since that turning point, Sarah's either been hostile or angry. Savvy working mom Sarah Whedon: Where are ya sista?
What About Brian: Working Mom Story Only Got Stronger.
Of all the shows on this list, once "What About Brian" started on the road of making at-home mom of three Deena Greco and new mom/new widow Nicole Varzi business partners in the sixth episode of this season, the writers never turned back.
Each week, the impact of their decision to be working moms on their children and on their own lives was explored in different ways. For Deena - who, after temporarily separating from her husband Dave suffered an identity crisis - gained confidence as a career woman, but also faced some real problems with how to negotiate childcare with her spouse. For Nicole - who left the music business but found she had virtually nothing in common with the supermoms in her Mom & Me class - starting a bakery with Deena and hiring a nanny, worked out surprisingly well.
The show, whose finale has already aired, maintained its working mom angles through the finale. But the future for a third season is uncertain as ABC hasn't yet renewed it.
Studio 60: A Solid Working Mom Story . . . Left Dangling.
"Studio 60" is another intriguing show with working mom potential that's similarly on the programming bubble for next year. An early December episode of this endangered NBC drama packed some serious promise: The head of a TV network's entertainment division announced that she was pregnant and would be giving birth at the most crucial time in her industry's business calendar, when the new fall entertainment programming is unveiled to the media. The president of the network -- who was normally cutting and sarcastic to all comers - took the news very strangely, suddenly acting uncharacteristically kind. This signaled potential problems for the sole female exec at the network and provided great raw material with which to examine how women at the top of the corporate ladder are treated when they become pregnant. However with rumors rumbling about "Studio 60's" dire situation, it's questionable whether viewers will find out how Jordan McDeere's pregnancy plays out.