Aside from school starting, fall holds many joys, including the start of a new TV season. And in that we find a crop of TV moms who’ve come a long way (just as in real life). Both realistic and fantastical depictions of matriarchs dominate more and more of the storylines that keep us glued to the tube. Some running shows will awaken from their summer slumber with dramatic new doings for their daring dames, and some new offerings yield fresh new characters who may fast become our IDs/alter-egos/BFFs. Here’s a group of gritty working mothers who have especially piqued our interest—we can’t wait to see what they’re up to in the upcoming months. Which ones will you be watching?
Sam Fox, Better Things
Mom of Max, 15, Frankie, 12, and Duke, 9
Played by Pamela Adlon (FX)
Since her character Pamela was a huge hit on Louis, lead actor and co-creator Pamela Adlon (along with Louis C.K.) conjured a new solo vehicle for her talents: Better Things, which debuted last fall. The comedy series on FX explores the daily complexities of a single working mother of three. Adlon recently earned an Emmy nod for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series for her depiction of a woman with “no filter” raising three daughters on her own as a working actor in Los Angeles. On the show, Sam finds herself struggling to get through the day and have a little fun while being all things to all people—like we all do. Oh, and her Brit ex-pat mom lives across the street. We can’t wait to see her again Sept. 14.
Rainbow Johnson, Black-ish
Mom of Zoey, 15, Andre Jr., 13, Jack and Diane, 6
Played by: Tracee Ellis-Ross (ABC)
Tracy Ellis-Ross’ rich turn as the affably ambitious anesthesiologist Rainbow Johnson earned her the Golden Globe in January for Best TV Comedy/Musical Actress (making her the second African-American actress to do so since Debbie Allen 34 years ago). The biracial “Bow” heads an upper-middle-class family, helping them suss out various perceptions of race while striving for a better life. Married to ad exec Dre (played by Anthony Anderson), she has four kids (and is pregnant with her fifth) and a father-in-law (played by Laurence Fishburne) underfoot. Last season was filled with humor and love as the Johnson family got ready for a brand new baby. Dre and his crew also dealt with fallout from a surprising election, and the mixed emotions of one of their kids flying the nest for college. Will Bow handle five kids with grace, or will the birth of their son rock the family dynamic? We’ll find out Oct. 3.
Elizabeth McCord, Madam Secretary
Job: Secretary of State
Mom of Stephanie, 26, Alison, 22, and Jason, 15
Played by: Téa Leoni (CBS)
Last season's finale found Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord heading to Brussels to seek NATO'S support against Russia when it threatens to invade Bulgaria. With France refusing to cooperate, it threatens the entire alliance's existence. Henry's new government role pulls him, too, into the Russia issue, and he turns to his former operative, Dmitri Petrov, for help. What will happen with Russia? And, what will come of Nadine and Mike B's relationship as it heats up? We’ll find out as season four launches Oct. 8.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Job: Political Animal and Commentator
(Real) Mom of Piper, 10, Fletcher, 8, and Ripley, 6
Played by: Samantha Bee (TBS)
Our list wouldn’t be complete without applauding the fierce POV of one rabidly funny and really real workmom, Samantha Bee. The former Daily Show correspondent is now at the helm of her very own, very awesome late-night talk show, with an Emmy nod for writing right out of the gate, to boot. Sam earns huge props for rapier wit, her firm stance on women’s rights and gender parity, and her rockin’ collection of blazers and booties. As the political climate is tumultuous lately, we're looking to Samantha Bee for some laughs.
Jane Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
Children: Mateo, 5
Played by: Gina Rodriguez (CW)
Jane the Virgin begins its fourth season this fall, and we can't wait to see what single-mom Jane is up to now following the death of Michael, her ex-fiance. This season, we learn Adam's backstory, and why he was Jane's first love. Of course, there's Rafael, who lost all his money, doesn’t have anything and is now faced living with credit cards that don’t work. We also see a new side of Luisa, who is out for revenge. One thing's for sure, Jane encounters no shortage of adventure and craziness in her hectic life. Watch Oct. 13.
Melody “Mellie” Grant, Scandal
Job: U.S. Senator
Mom of Jerry, 17 (deceased), Karen 16, and Teddy, 3
Played by: Bellamy Young (ABC)
Former Senator of Virginia, Millie has usurped her ex-husband Fitz in the Oval office and is now President of the United States, and she's unafraid to filibuster for women’s health. What's more, Olivia Pope finally cracked who was behind Frankie Vargas' assassination ... Frankie's wife, Luna Vargas! What will happen in this dark political world of twists and turns, alliances and betrayals? Find out in the season seven premiere on Oct. 5.
Elizabeth Jennings, The Americans
Job: Travel Agent/KGB Agent
Mom of Paige, 14, and Henry, 12
Played by: Keri Russell (FX)
In season five, we saw Tuan attempt suicide, and back in the Jennings’ neighborhood, Philip spotted Stan moving his mysterious girlfriend “Renee” into his house because a pipe burst in her building, and she needed a place to stay. Phillip thinks she's a spy, but we still don't know whether Renee is secretly a KGB operative. Meanwhile, Pasha is doing better, but still in the hospital for some time. His mother will eventually take him back to Moscow, but Alexei will stay in America. In this world of spies and secrets, you never know what will happen next.
Charley Bordelon West, Queen Sugar
Job: Manager, Sugarcane Farm Co-owner
Mom of Micah, teenager
Played by: Dawn-Lyen Gardner (OWN)
The critically acclaimed series Queen Sugar is the story of three estranged siblings forced to come together after their dad dies to run his sugarcane farm in Louisiana. Among them is working mom Charley Bordelon West, a hugely successful manager with a teenage son and a difficult marriage to a basketball star. Her more down-to-earth older sister, journalist Nova (played by True Blood’s Rutina Wesley), and her brother, Ralph Angel, a formerly incarcerated dad trying to live on the up-and-up, will likely have different ideas on how to run things. It’ll be interesting to see how she veers between her heart and her head as she deals with betrayal, parenting, business and family. Check it out during the two-part season two premiere on Oct. 3 and 4.
Jane Sadler, Ten Days in the Valley
Job: Television Producer
Children: Lake, 9
Played by: Kyra Sedgwick (ABC)
We're happy to see The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick back on the small screen, starring in a brand-new series about an overworked television producer, Jane Sadler. This single-mom struggles to balance her demanding career with raising her daughter, Lake. When her daughter goes missing and the Robbery-Homicide Division of the LAPD starts to investigate, her life unravels. Who took Lake, and will she be found alive or is it too late? Watch the series premiere on ABC on Sunday, Oct. 1.