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Jillian "Jill" Patterson Taylor is a character in the TV sitcom Home Improvement played by Patricia Richardson. Jill is Tim Taylor's wife. Jill helps Tim raise their three sons (Brad, Randy, and Mark). Jill Taylor has appeared on critics' lists of "top TV" or "most memorable" moms.[1][2][3] For this role, Richardson was nominated four times for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress – Comedy Series and also received two nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy.

Jill Taylor
Home Improvement character
Patricia Richardson as Jill Taylor.jpg
Jill Taylor
First appearance"Pilot"
Last appearance"The Long and Winding Road Part 3"
Portrayed byPatricia Richardson
Information
AliasJill Patterson
Jillian Patterson
FamilyColonel Fred Patterson (deceased)
Lillian Patterson
Linda (sister)
Tracy (sister)
Carrie (sister)
Robin (sister)
Katie (sister)
Carol (sister)
SpouseTim Taylor
ChildrenBrad Taylor
Randy Taylor
Mark Taylor

Contents

DevelopmentEdit

The writers planned from the start that Tim Taylor's wife would have a strong voice. Patricia Richardson had initially been reluctant to accept the role, concerned that Jill would be yet another "perfect" TV sitcom mother such as Clair Huxtable of The Cosby Show. She was reassured after seeing some scripts and talking to the series' producers. Early in the show's run, Richardson said, "What I want for this character is for her to be imperfect. I want her to make mistakes. I want her to be the wrong one in the relationship. I want her to blow it with Tim, and be the one who has to be punished. Because that's what life is like."[4]

Character biographyEdit

BackgroundEdit

Due to her father being in the Army, Jill and her four sisters grew up in a rigid environment. Jill and her siblings appear together in "Jill and Her Sisters" and "Taps".

PersonalityEdit

It is established early in the series that Jill serves as the voice of reason for her husband and children.[5] Jill is known for her common sense, but is also in-tune with her emotions; she has been described as "the epitome of understanding".[6] However, she is not far above a multitude of bad habits and instances of poor judgement, selfishness and immaturity. In one instance she remained extremely angry for years after her best friend in high school married Jill's then boyfriend-she only stopped her grudge and forgave her friend after she found out why they had married(her friend was pregnant with the boyfriend's son). Her desire to help others and solve problems appear to run parallel with a meddling streak. She is known to give bad advice with positive intentions. She does not always sincerely care about the good of other people when matchmaking them or the consequences of meddling in their affairs. She is also known to not own up to the mistakes she makes, blaming them on something or someone else. And she is also prone to lying to get what she wants, something she herself boasts to be good at. Despite her constant demand of Tim to be supportive of her job, and later college, Jill incessantly belittles Tool Time and any success Tim has because of the show(generally, she delights in damning Tim with faint praise, saying he has only one or two fans, despite the studio audience always being full). This glares in light of Tim, Al & Heidi's support of the U.S. Armed Forces, considering that Jill grew up in a military family, as well as the fact that she has no income, so Tim is footing the entire bill for her return to college. Jill is particularly nasty with Tim in that she constantly fantasizes or brags about having affairs behind his back, intimating that she is cheating on him with any man from Al("Maybe, Baby") to Doc Johnson('Twas The Blight Before Christmas"), or snidely telling Tim that one of the boys is not his. The only Time Jill has zero interest in anything Tim enjoys, always criticizing his projects or trying to outright shut them down. At one point("Communication Breakdown"), Jill is seen pretending to be listening to Tim for split a second after he suggests installing a second phone line, and then brattily droning "NO" when Tim tries to suggest his latest idea(he literally can't get out one word). In Jill's eyes, no problem Tim has is important enough that she won't readily interrupt it by answering the phone, or not listening at all because of the great day she's had, and brazenly ignores him while crowing about her daily accomplishments. The only time Jill has shown any remorse for her nasty attitude was in "Tim's First Car" when she mocked Tim for wanting to reclaim his first car (a Ford Corvair Convertible), and stalling him on buying it back until he arrives at the junkyard just in time to see it destroyed by a car-crusher. This attitude also bleeds over into her psychology studies, were she displays a complete lack of ethics on two major occasions: ("Advise and Repent")Overhearing a friend of Tim's complaining about his in-laws, she begins dispensing advice despite having no license or ever meeting his wife. Jill also learns of Heidi's husband cheating on her("Not-So-Great Scott") and violates her patient's confidentiality by burdening Tim with the truth, which he cannot keep from Heidi in good conscience. In the series finale, as Tim is forced to quit Tool Time, Jill thoughtlessly proposes the insane idea of moving to Indiana to join a new family psychology clinic, despite her full awareness that for the past few years, Tim's family has been moving to Detroit to live closer to them. But this is not an evident factor in Jill's ultimate decision to turn the offer down.

Jill is snooty when it comes to her interests, spending her time on book clubs and foreign films, and loves sophisticated art forms such as theatre, ballet and opera, all of which Tim hates. Jill offers a dichotomy to Tim's lovably inept persona. Of their three sons Brad takes after Tim; Randy takes after Jill(but doesn't use it to irritate Tim); Mark develops his own persona.

Some time during or after the third season, Patricia Richardson wanted to enroll in a weight-loss program but the show producers (including ABC management) felt it would affect the way her character is viewed by the audience. She was seen as a less-than-perfect person, with many positive attributes, and yet, with some shortcomings (as listed above). It was felt that the extra few pounds on her body would suit her middle-aged mother-of-three-boys role better than the image of a skinny and fit mother.[citation needed]

College and careerEdit

Throughout the course of the series, Jill progresses from being a fairly typical housewife to a career-focused working woman. Early in the series, Jill frequently has problems finding employment; in the pilot episode of the series, she laments to Tim about how she was passed over for a job interview. However, Jill ultimately goes back to school, majoring in psychology. Sadly, over time Jill displays even less skill at psychology and the ethics it requires than she has at cooking. In one episode she nearly broke up a couple by trying to diagnose a complex in the wife (whom she hadn't even met), and later breached confidentiality (to Tim, and later Wilson) about the affair Heidi's husband had during their separation.[7]

PoliticsEdit

Jill's feminism is emphasized throughout the series, especially in its latter seasons. She and Tim would sometimes argue about a man and woman's "place" in the household. Despite Tim's frequent reluctance to understand Jill's point of view, he usually tries to compromise with her.

It is also revealed in "Taps" that Jill is a Democrat. In other episodes, Jill mentions attending protest rallies as a young woman without her father's knowledge. However, being the daughter of an Army father has influenced her personality somewhat. For example, in "Tanks for the Memories", she exhibits great skill in driving a tank, despite the fact that she never drove a tank before.

Cultural impactEdit

The relationship between Jill and Tim Taylor has been discussed in academic papers about feminism and the men's movement.[8][9][10] In May 2012, Jill was one of the 12 moms chosen by users of iVillage on their list of "Mommy Dearest: The TV Moms You Love".[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Pierce, Scott D. (May 10, 2009). "TV mothers have become a big part of our lives", Deseret News, p. E1.
  2. ^ Matthew, Amy (May 8, 2009). "Mother lode: Saluting the most memorable TV moms", McClatchy-Tribune Business News / The Pueblo Chieftain.
  3. ^ Vancheri, Barbara, and Owen, Rob (May 9, 2004). "Leave It to June Cleaver", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, p. F8.
  4. ^ Adalian, Josef (May 8, 1993). "Why are TV moms so perfect?", Boston Herald, p. 19.
  5. ^ (October 1, 2004). "The winding path of TV's woman of the house", USA Today, p. E2.
  6. ^ Berman, Marc (May 5, 2008). "In Mom's Honor", Mediaweek 18 (18): 58.
  7. ^ Barbuto, Dana (May 6, 2008). "Mommies Dearest: Though they're fictional, TV's moms reflect changing roles of motherhood", The Patriot Ledger, p. 27.
  8. ^ McEachern, Charmaine (March 1999). "Comic interventions: Passion and the men's movement in the situation comedy, Home Improvement", Journal of Gender Studies 8 (1): 5–18.
  9. ^ Hanke, Robert (Winter 1998). "The 'mock-macho' situation comedy: Hegemonic masculinity and its reiteration", Western Journal of Communication 62 (1): 74–93.
  10. ^ Craig, Steve (1996). "More (male) power: Humor & gender in Home Improvement", The Mid-Atlantic Almanack (5): 61–84.
  11. ^ Garfinkel, Jacki (May 10, 2012). "Mommy Dearest: The TV Moms You Love". iVillage. Retrieved June 17, 2012.