Boomers have been a topic of mounting discussion lately in the socio-political landscape, but their presence on television hasn't been as prevalent. For one of the largest swathes of the US population (76 million people), those people born between the mid-'40s and the mid-'60s have been widely ignored by programming. Television has been a traditionally youth-focused industry, which is ironic given that the Baby Boomers were the first generation to watch television and largely shaped its media progression.
Boomer characters, shaped as they are by the events (the Vietnam War, the Summer of Love) and figures (politicians and musical artists) of their time offer unique world views in sit-coms. They can be a unerringly focused on traditional conservative values, or rampantly anti-establishment. They can tussle with other generations as they tussled with those that came before them, and create engaging storylines that don't just have to focus on divorce, disease, and death. Here are the 10 most hilarious sit-com "Boomer" characters, ranked.
10 MARY COOPER (BIG BANG THEORY)
Laurie Metcalf's portrayal of Sheldon's mother on The Big Bang Theory earned her an Emmy nod for her mixture of strict bible-thumping convention and eccentric home-spun wisdom. A born-again Christian from Texas, she knows her son is incredibly smart even if they butt heads when it comes to the practical applications of science versus religion.
Mary is summoned whenever Sheldon becomes particularly hard to handle by Leonard, Penny, and the rest of the gang. She's been described as Sheldon's "Kryptonite" and the only person who can control him. Her religious quirks can come across as bigotry, but they're often the source of hilarious jokes.
9 JACK AND JUDY GELLER (FRIENDS)
Ross and Monica's parents (played by Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles) were well off and conservative, but laid back where it count. For instance, Jack was known for his inappropriate humor, followed by a timely "I'm just saying..." to excuse the cringe-worthy anecdotes.
He made plenty of sexual innuendos, which his wife Judy objected to, but at the heart of their relationship they were very much in love. Though Monica may have suffered in her childhood for their making Ross the favorite, their children turned out neurotic but otherwise okay.
8 GRACE AND FRANKIE (GRACE AND FRANKIE)
It's bound to be a hilarious situation when two women "of a certain age" find themselves divorcees because after 30 years of marriage their husbands discover that they're in love with each other. Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) offer some of their best comedy in years.
Veterans of film and television, these two women epitomize "boomers" in two different ways; Grace is much more of the "kids these days" persuasion who often dismisses the degradation of society, while Frankie is much more easy going with a "live and let live" attitude about the younger generation. Their pithy repartee is one of the highlights of the series, and shows there's no one way to characterize a generation.
7 MICHAEL BAXTER (LAST MAN STANDING)
Tim Allen continued his amusing take on the failings of the macho male in Home Improvement with his role as Mike Baxter in Last Man Standing. Mike owns a sporting goods outlet, is extremely nationalistic and patriotic, and doesn't much care for the modern take on masculinity because it's far too sensitive.
At home, he's surrounded by his wife and daughters, who all espouse different opinions and beliefs that combat his traditional conservative values, making him constantly feel like "the last man standing". Mike may complain about the assault on men and the degradation of the American Way, but deep down he's a loving father even if he is out of touch.
6 VICTORIA CHASE (HOT IN CLEVELAND)
A former soap star and the leading actress in several Lifetime Movies, Victoria Chase decides to move in with her two friends Melanie and Joy in Cleveland when she feels like she no longer gets the adoration she once did. She's been married numerous times to highly influential men that have divorced her, leaving her with three children and one grand child.
Though she's incredibly self-obsessed, Wendie Malick always imbued the character of Victoria Chase with some redeeming qualities. She could be generous with people she liked, and the well-timed zingers she conjured against people she didn't made for some of the best scenes on Hot in Cleveland.
5 POPS (BLACK-ISH)
Earl Johnson (Laurence Fishburne), also known as "Pops" on Black-ish, is Dre's father and a fixture in the household with his wife and children. Pops has a strong love of track-suits, gambling at the race track, and giving his opinion even if it's completely unwarranted.
Despite the fact that he has a drinking problem, most of his friends are in prison, and he loves to rub his son's failures in his face, his grandchildren idolize him. His running commentary on family matters diffuses tense situations, and his life lessons and advice are sought after by all the members of the family at one point or another.
4 MOIRA AND JOHNNY ROSE (SCHITT'S CREEK)
Moira and Johnny Rose, a former soap actress and video store magnate, are forced out of their opulent home and into two rooms at a motel in Schitt's Creek when their business manager absconds with their fortune. Hilarity ensures when they try to connect with the provincial townsfolk and settle into what will be their new home.
Moira (Catherine O'Hara) has a wig and outrageous outfit for every day of the week, treating the tiny town of Schitt's Creek as her own fashion runway. She suffers from delusions of grandeur that people still care about her film career, while her husband Johnny (Eugene Levy) tries to maintain a new business and make something of their new life. It doesn't help that their adult children, completely plugged-in Millennials, can't do anything for themselves.
3 BEAU BENNETT (THE RANCH)
Beau Bennett (Sam Elliott) is a man of principles, of traditions, and of family values. He follows his own moral code and you'd better hope you don't cross it. That's why he isn't thrilled when his eldest son (played by Ashton Kutcher) returns to his small town, a washed up former pro football player down on his luck.
Beau already has enough to deal with making something out of his other son, as well as taking to the new living situation between him and his estranged wife (she operates the local bar). Beau definitely doesn't understand why the younger generation is so fast to abandon its values, and the curmudgeonly humor from him trying to make sense of it gives The Ranch some of its best material.
2 FRANK REYNOLDS ( IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA)
Most of the hilarious shenanigans that occur on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are due to the masterful manipulations of Frank Reynolds, co-owner of Paddy's Pub in Philadelphia. A self-professed heathen who was once very conservative, after he divorced his wife Barbara he became fully committed to being as nefarious as humanly possible.
When he isn't getting up to some sort of diabolical scheme with his kids, he's spending ridiculous amounts of money on exotic cars. This is in contrast to living in squalor with Charlie, who may or may not be another biological child of his. It would be hard to like Frank if he wasn't so masterfully played by Danny DeVito.
1 JAY (MODERN FAMILY)
Jason Francis Pritchett (or just Jay) is the patriarch of the Pritchetts, one of the several families featured on Modern Family. He's father to Mitchell, Joe, and Claire, and is heavily involved in their lives and the lives of their children. His wife Gloria is far younger than he is, and entered the marriage with a son by a previous spouse, Manny.
As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Jay can be a tough guy, with conservative views and a strict way of doing things his family finds difficult to adhere to. Despite his gruff exterior, he truly loves his family, and just like when Ed O'Neill was on Married With Children, it's a goldmine of comedy watching him get exasperated at the thought of his authority being ignored as his family does whatever they want.