Catching Up With the Grandmas from 'The O.C.,' 'Friday Night Lights' & 5 More Mid-'00s Shows

As a big TV fan, I've come up with a few general guidelines for judging the quality of shows over the years: does it have a laugh track and isn't Friends? (if yes: stop watching). Are the women, you know, women, with thoughts and feelings and plotlines of their own? And, perhaps most importantly, how great is the grandma? Although it may seem like a silly addition, years of TV viewing has taught me that if a show's good, it's more likely than not to feature a smart, sassy, lovable grandmother, who will, upon entrance, immediately become a fan favorite. It's pretty much the golden rule of television: cast a feisty grandma, and you're bound to sweep up at the Emmys.

Or at least win over your pre-teen fans, because looking back at my favorite TV grandmas, nearly all of them had their time in the spotlight during the mid-'00s. Was it the drama? The fashion? The adorable teenage heartthrobs who got to play their grandsons? We may never know for sure, but we do know that several years after most of these grandmas' shows went off the air, we're still missing them dearly. The good news? Most of the actresses who played them are still TV regulars — and some of their roles are a bit, well, different than the loving nanas we remember. What seven beloved TV grandmas are up to today:


Played by: Mary Beth Peil

Last seen: Caring for her granddaughter Jen in her final days, and helping Jack raise Jen's young daughter.

Now: Starring on The Good Wife as Jackie, the manipulative, over-protective mother of Peter.

Still warm and fuzzy? Oh, no. Not even close.

The Nana

Played by: Linda Lavin

Last seen: Living it up in Florida, probably bragging to her friends that her son named his daughter after her.

Now: Filming The Intern, Nancy Meyers' new movie. Recently, she starred as a tough, sassy mother in NBC's now-cancelled Sean Saves the World. Sound familiar?

Still warm and fuzzy? The Nana was never warm and fuzzy. Snarky and biting, yes, and that's why we loved her so.

Emily Gilmore

Played by: Kelly Bishop

Last seen: Attending Rory's going away party and ensuring that Lorelai will continue her Friday night dinners for years to come.

Now: Filming two TV movies, including one starring Katie Holmes, and probably still mourning the loss of Bunheads.

Still warm and fuzzy? Like The Nana, Emily was never warm and fuzzy. Her Bunheads character, though, showed a bit more heart, even if she was just as overbearing.

Grandma Saracen

Played by: Louanne Stephens

Last seen: Continuing to struggle with dementia, but lucid enough to present her ring and wedding dress to her future granddaughter-in-law.

Now: Starring as Ruby, the manager of the sheriff's office, on Longmire, an A&E show whose third season just premiered.

Still warm and fuzzy? Not particularly, but no post-FNL role can compare to the greatness that was Grandma Saracen.

Marie Barone

Played by: Doris Roberts

Last seen: Freaking out over a Raymond drama and berating Debra for her cooking, per usual.

Now: Guest-starring on shows like Melissa & Joey and filming TV movies.

Still warm and fuzzy? Much more so than on Raymond.


Played by: Caroline Lagerfelt

Last seen: Dying from cancer, and leaving her estate to the woman posing at her granddaughter.

Now: Guest-starring on shows like Masters of Sex and The Mindy Project.

Still warm and fuzzy? Please, CeCe was as far from warm and fuzzy as they got, but she's definitely cooled down since leaving Gossip Girl.

Judy Geller

Played by: Christina Pickles

Last seen: Attending Emma's first birthday party, then leaving early after a catastrophe with the cake.

Now: Starring in an upcoming web series, Break a Hip.

Still warm and fuzzy? Judging from the grandparent-focused title of the show, probably. Hopefully, and bit more equal in her love for her children, too.

Image: NBC (3); the WB (2); CBS (2); The CW