Tami Taylor might just be my favorite TV mom of all time. In a show that ostensibly revolves around the high school football team, convention would have led me to expect the coach’s wife to be there mainly as a form of support for him. Tami is one of the most supportive characters in the cast, but she’s far more involved than that.
Tami is a guidance counselor at the high school, and is one of the few people who is a position to see both the amount of pressure that all of these kids are under and the fact that their lives aren’t going to depend on the win/loss stats forever, no matter what they may think. She manages to split her time between raising a teenage daughter, working a more-than-full-time job, and having a good relationship with her husband. It continually astounds me that television writers seem to think that healthy marriages are boring- maybe I’m in the minority, but this beautifully functional relationship beats most of the supposedly “more dramatic” ones I’ve seen hands down. They’re both aware of the demands that the other deals with at work, but when she feels he’s not giving her problems the respect they deserve she tells him so without turning shrill or bitter. She’s more than willing to do things without his support (when she first took the job as guidance counselor, for instance) but when he realizes that something’s important to her he immediately backs her up. Their fights are healthier than most television couples are when they’re getting along.
Tami is also dealing amazingly well with having a teenage daughter. Julie has fairly recently become good friends with Tyra Collette, which caused her parents a little concern. And that was before Julie and Tyra were picked up by the cops for being in a strip club (Tyra had stopped in to talk to her sister). Tami went so far as to forbid Julie to hang out with Tyra, but after Julie snuck out to a party at Tyra’s which ended with Tyra’s mother needing to go to the ER, Tami was the first person Julie called. It says a lot about their relationship that even knowing how much trouble she was going to be in, and that her parents were at an important dinner, she never doubted that her mom would show up and fix things. While helping Tyra clean up the party’s aftermath, Tami realizes it’s not Tyra’s influence she’s worried about- it’s that her baby girl is growing up and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. And she’s a big enough person to not only tell Tyra that but to apologize.
It’s been indicated before this that Tami sees some of herself in Tyra, and she’s now working with her to help her get into college, even personally tutoring her after school. Up until just recently Tyra was planning on leaving school and getting her GED and never once considered continuing her education, but once Tami sees potential in someone she isn’t about to let her sit back and coast. The scene where Tyra starts to realize that these things aren’t out of her reach, that she can do more with her life even when her own mother is telling her that she can’t, is truly lovely.
Connie Britton and some extraordinary writers have managed to create an exceptionally strong woman who still manages to feel completely real. Well done all.