They say that behind every great man is a great woman. But what if the woman is determined to step out of the man's shadow? On television, we have seen a many marriages weather the storm-be it separation, unemployment, or just plain bad choices. And most of the time, it's the husband who screws up. Remember when Homer bought a gun? When Al Bundy decided to hunt for gold? The fact that Archie Bunker was a racist or that Peter Griffin fought chickens? It's evident that a good wife will deal with lot foolishness.
Sometimes, though, it is the wives who carve out their niche on television; women who are more than just spouses and are unforgettable television characters. Ones who bring unique traits to the small screen that cannot be substituted. Here is a look back at the most memorable television wives.
Carrie Heffernan on "The King of Queens":
Has a woman ever been more tough, hard-nosed, and even sometimes intimidating than Carrie? The beautiful woman with the thick New York accent, Carrie always kept her husband Doug in line. And if he veered off track, she let him know it. Sometimes she would punch him. Other times she would twist his nipples. And when physical harm wouldn't do the trick, Carrie could always throw in a fat joke. With a sharp tongue and a mean right hook, Carrie was certainly the King of the Heffernan household.
Louise Jefferson on "The Jeffersons":
In the 1950's, we saw television wives as docile, domesticated spouses. Twenty years later, Lousie "Weezie" Jefferson came onto the scene. A stark contrast from her former neighbor and friend Edith Bunker, "Weezie" had no problem telling her cocky husband George that he was acting like a fool. And an idiot. She was often blunt, and had no problem imposing her will on her husband if he got too far out of line. In that sense, "Weezie" was similar to a domestic referee. If her husband George-constantly fighting the Napoleon complex-got too crazy or offensive, it was "Weezie" who had to rein him in with a verbal smack down.
Peggy Bundy on "Married with Children":
A wife who doesn't want to cook, clean, work, or mother is usually not one that would be considered for a countdown list such as this. But the character of Peggy is forever etched into television lore-for better or for worse. Although she constantly harped on her husband's shortcomings, there was no doubt that Peggy loved Al Bundy. Though she complained, whined, and sometimes even cried, "Peg" could always verbally spar with anyone while simultaneously eating bon-bon's and watching "Oprah." When push came to shove, Peggy always had her husband's back-whether he welcomed it or not.
Claire Huxtable on "The Cosby Show":
Intelligent and refined, Claire was unlike any wife seen on television. She had genuine equity within her marriage due to her persona and successful career. This was quite foreign on television, as the wife was often either put in her place (Edith Bunker), or she was the mother of both her children and her husband (Marge Simpson). But Claire was different--she demanded respect. Who could ever forget the scene featuring the lovable male chauvinist Elvin, who thought that a woman should wait on a man's every beck and call? Claire quickly set him straight, intimidating the poor man and making him look foolish in the process. Claire was a special kind of wife, one that is certainly present in society but rarely portrayed on television.
Marge Simpson on "The Simpsons":
There hasn't been a more supportive wife on television. Ever. Marge has supported her husband through a sexual harassment lawsuit, beer smuggling, and a job as a destructive monorail conductor. She has suffered through her son's shoplifting, and her daughter's mental breakdowns. Through it all, she has remained calm, cool, collected, and very, very loyal. With her cautious murmurs and soft-spoken voice of reason, Marge is the kind of spouse that every man hopes to call his own one day.
Carmela Soprano on "The Sopranos":
If Marge is the most supportive wife on television, Carmela is the most faithful. A sweet woman who longed for the perfect family and marriage, Carmela was also smart. She knew what was going on. Say what you will about her morals of living with a known Mafioso-especially one who is involved with dirty money, federal agents, adultery, therapy, and attempts on his life- Carmela could've left a long time ago. But she didn't. She was loyal to both her children and husband and was determined to work through the difficult times. A husband couldn't ask for more.
Story by Michael Langston Moore
Starpulse contributing writer