Five tiger mums causing an uproar on TV

Tiger mum Constance Wu in 'Fresh Off The Boat'. — TODAY pic
Tiger mum Constance Wu in 'Fresh Off The Boat'. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, May 9 — It’s the season to celebrate motherhood, mothering and mothers, the women who made us who we are and without whom we wouldn’t have clean socks.

Sure, sometimes they’re scary and strict. But hey, at least they’re not as hardcore as these tiger mothers who have been ruling the roost on TV these days.

CONSTANCE WU in Fresh Off The Boat

Chinese mothers are the original tigresses, existing long before Amy Chua bestowed legitimacy upon them by giving them a local habitation and a name. In the American sitcom Fresh Off The Boat (about a Chinese family struggling to assimilate into a new community), Wu, as the matriarch, plays up that stereotype to hilarious effect. Her son Eddie, the show’s child narrator, sums it up when he says that in their family, “we showed our love through criticism and micro-management. If you said, ‘I love you’, you were probably hiding something.”

HUANG BIREN in Tiger Mum

In the recent MediaCorp TV Channel 8 drama, the inimitable Huang played a prison warden who, in spite of having no child-rearing experience, managed to make her new boyfriend’s four wayward offspring fall in line, through coercion, manipulation, heavy-handedness, Tony Robbins-style pep talks and some conveniently inserted Spidey sense. Meanwhile, said boyfriend (played by a stupefied Yao Wen Long) stood sputtering piteously in the background. All hail Huang Biren – she seriously should just run for President already.


Like Constance Wu, Henson is hailed as the breakout star of her show, Empire, a soapy musical dramedy about a power struggle within the family of a hip-hop mogul. One glare from this tigress in leopard prints will have you quaking in your blinged-out high-tops – and when she opens her mouth, expect to be ripped to shreds. What’s even scarier than her revenge-plotting against her hapless ex-husband is that she has no qualms about playing all three of her sons against one another in order to get what she wants.

IRENE ANG in Spouse For House

Controlling, meddlesome, possessive and, on top of it all, extremely “auntie”, Ang is the mother-in-law of Selena Li’s nightmares and the ever-present maternal colossus in the lives of Alaric Tay and Desmond Tan. Even Richard Low, as her meekly sensible husband, knows to keep a low profile next to her.


As the mother of three kids, Bowen is the straight man to Ty Burrell’s irresponsible, clowny dad, and is herself the product of a tiger mother. Vergara isn’t a traditional, grades-and-discipline-oriented tigress, but she sure is loud and overbearing, proving that the tiger mother syndrome is far from culturally specific. When you put Modern Family’s two leading ladies together – what immortal hand or eye could frame their fearful symmetry? — TODAY

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