Clockwise from left: Everett Collection;HBO/Everett Collection; FOX
Housewives on ScreenToday's TV housewives might be more of the wine-drinking, drama-seeking, reality show variety--witness the antics when The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills returns December 2 for Season 6--but stay-at-home spouses have been a staple of television for years. Here, 12 of television's most memorable ladies of the house, who balance their roles as wives and moms with either comedic antics or soapy drama.
Lucy Ricardo, I Love LucyPlayed by: Lucille Ball
Lucy was no staid housewife; her screwball antics, constant pratfalls and delightful disasters—from her candy wrapping antics to her Vitameatavegamin commercial—was always sure to make others laugh.
Carol Brady, The Brady BunchPlayed by: Florence Henderson
Since the day that a lady met a fellow, Carol has had her hands full with resolving conflicts between two blended families (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”). But with the help of her housekeeper, Alice, this stay-at-home-mom always made raising six kids look easy breezy.
Marge Simpson, The SimpsonsVoiced by: Julie Kavner
The Simpsons matriarch has been patiently putting up with Homer's craziness for 27 seasons. Not only does Marge’s calm attitude provide stability for her hectic family, but her tall blue hair never falls short of perfection.
Vivian Banks, Fresh Prince of Bel-AirPlayed by: Janet Hubert-Whitten (Seasons 1-3); Daphne Maxwell Reid (Seasons 4-6)
The Banks family was filled with big personalities, but that never stopped this fiery female from being outspoken. Vivian blended old-fashioned housewife sensibilities with a modern-day passion all her own.
Gabrielle Solis, Desperate HousewivesPlayed by: Eva Longoria
Before there were Real Housewives, there were Desperate Housewives. Of the group of harried, hot, and hilarious women living on Wisteria Lane, retired model Gabrielle Solis had the hardest time adjusting to the suburbs and passed the time by wearing over-the-top fashions and seducing the pool boy. Sure, she wasn’t the typical housewife compared to buttoned-up Bree, but she was the most modern one, and together they were as thick as thieves.
Betty Draper, Mad MenPlayed by: January Jones
This brittle blonde certainly looked the part of a perfectly-coiffed and manicured housewife, but she had her share of vices and struggled to find herself through her roller-coaster marriage to Don and more stable relationship with Henry.
Carmela Soprano, The SopranosPlayed by: Edie Falco
It's not easy being a mobster's wife, and Carmela had her share of challenges: a perpetually unfaithful husband and his goomars, occasional visits from the FBI, threats from criminal rivals and hidden piles of cash to fret over. She managed to find some solace in mountains of pasta and perfectly manicured nails, though her two children rarely appreciated her efforts.
Gloria Pritchett, Modern FamilyPlayed by: Sofia Vergara
Gloria Pritchett brings more to the family dynamics than just her good looks. Her efforts to bond with son Manny are nothing short of lovable, and her short fuse makes for comedy gold.
Debra Barone, Everybody Loves RaymondPlayed by: Patricia Heaton
Debra was no wall flower as she held her own raising three kids and a man-child husband while staving off one of television's most meddling (and critical) mothers-in-law.
Kate Harrison, Trophy WifePlayed by: Malin Ackerman
The reformed party girl became the third trophy wife to her older husband, Pete Harrison, and inherited three stepchildren from two very different ex-wives. But with her fun, easygoing outlook on life, Kate was determined to be more than just a pretty young thing and fulfill her role as a stepparent.