In Real Life
, being a single mother isn't easy. Let's be honest here. Children kind of need a lot of attention. It can be an overwhelming task for two parents, let alone one who also needs to have a day-job just so she can put food on the table.
Because viewing audiences tend not to like being reminded of how tough things can be, TV land has given us the Glamorous Single Mother
- a character who juggles children, personal life, and work life expertly with little trouble or complications. In particularly extreme examples, her life will be indistinguishable from those of similar characters who do not have kids- they'll be little more than an adorable little Plot Device
every few episodes.
This trope, coupled with Babies Make Everything Better
can create some dastardly Unfortunate Implications
in that they make getting pregnant appear to be a substantially less physically and emotionally draining task than it really is. It's probably not coincidental that this trope almost always involves upper-middle-class women, as opposed to the working poor. Contrast Single Mom Stripper
See also Friends Rent Control
Anime and Manga
- The Perfect Man was mocked for its use of this trope (along with many other things). Jean's predilection of moving to a new state every time a relationship fails would rightly be viewed as a sign of mental illness in nearly any other movie. Here, though, the only apparent consequence of these actions is that her daughter Holly wants to keep her mom from being let down again. How Jean manages to do things like afford a two-bedroom apartment in New York on a baker's salary is...not explained.
- The indie film Tumbleweeds had a similar situation with the single mother, though a little more realistic in tone.
- Dante's Peak: The character of Rachel Wando is not only a single mother, but is in charge of pretty much every single aspect of the titular town's business and politics including being the mayor, running a restaurant, etc. etc.
- Sandy from The Rebound invokes this trope by hiring a nanny so she can work the hours she needs to.
- Casey's mom Joan, from Ice Princess is a single mother, college professor, and they both live comfortably. Gen and Teddy's mom, Tina as well.
- Probably the most famous invocation of this trope is the title character on Murphy Brown. Dan Quayle famously attempted to question the Unfortunate Implications this trope creates- and ended up the target of ridicule for suggesting that television could influence people like that. Interestingly, Candice Bergen herself thought Quayle had a point.
- Gilmore Girls uses this, but not in the backstory when Lorelai and the infant Rory were taken in by the owner of the Independence Inn, Mia, where Lorelai became a maid. When the show starts proper, daughter Rory is a teenager and the relatively easy time Lorelei has raising her can be rationalized along those lines. (And of course, Rory was the world's most well-behaved girl to begin with.)
- Lampshaded in an episode where Lorelei is invited to speak at the local highschool's career day about being a successful local business woman. The girls in the class assault her with questions about her infamous teen pregnancy instead of letting her give the speech she prepared. She ends up having to state outright that even though she sometimes wonders how her life could have turned out differently, she would not change what happened even if she could (because she would not trade Rory for anything). She even tries to make it clear that she considers herself very lucky in terms of how things have worked out for her despite her pregnancy preventing her from going to college. Later, the mothers of the girls don't care about the nuance of her response (which hinged on loving her daughter) and ambush her for supposedly "glorifying" teen pregnancy to their daughters. Lorelei doesn't take kindly to the implication that she should have said she regrets her daughter.
- Lisa from Supernatural. She also has a ridiculously nice house, even though she doesn't have an especially good job and is raising a kid on her own. She must have found a kickass divorce lawyer.
- Naomi Sandburg in The Sentinel travels constantly all over the world, has nice clothes, etc. in spite of being an ex-flowerchild with a son whose father she's not sure of (or won't admit.)
- Rachel on Friends is more of a subversion. She is single during her pregnancy and after Emma is born, while maintaining a high-profile job. However, Ross (Emma's father) is a consistent presence throughout it all - even taking off work for a time to help raise her. The trope is even Lampshaded during her baby shower, where Rachel is starting to panic that she won't be able to handle it. Ross points out that she has overcome adversity before, but also has the benefit of him (already an experienced parent).
- Not to mention she has a very strong support group around her, who all live locally and are happy to help out. In fact the ever-dependable Monica and Chandler seem to spend more time with Emma than Ross and Rachel do.
- Mia from Degrassi started out as a subversion of this. Then they had her mom somehow find a way to stay home with the kid while Mia became a model.
- Averted on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Catherine notoriously has trouble balancing finding time for Lindsey with working nights at the crime lab. It is shown that her mother often looks after her daughter when she is at work.
- Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife is a high powered lawyer, often working incredibly long hours. She is still married, but her husband's in prison so acts as single mother. On the other hand, her children are teenagers so are more independent, but the only problems she ever has with them are about them mildly rebelling.
- Subverted with Joan Harris on Mad Men who is gorgeous and well-dressed, and as of Season 5, becomes a Ad Agency Partner. But it's shown that she has to depend on her irritating mother for childcare and that she had to make the infamous deal for her and Kevin's livelihood.
- The Scout's mom in Team Fortress 2. Although she's suggested to be lower-income and live in a rough neighborhood, she's still quite glam-looking.