|Home Improvement character|
|Last appearance||"The Long and Winding Road Part 3"|
|Portrayed by||Patricia Richardson|
|Family||Colonel Fred Patterson (deceased)
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. 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.
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."
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".
It is established early in the series that Jill serves as the voice of reason for her husband and children. Jill is known for her common sense, but is also in-tune with her emotions; she has been described as "the epitome of understanding". 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 boyfriends 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. 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 are not his.
Jill 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; 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.
College and career
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.
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 face that she never should have been there.
- Her cooking talent, or lack thereof
- Chastising Tim for something, but then doing exactly the same thing herself, and trying to keep it from Tim
- Whenever she addresses her husband or sons by their full name, it is a sure sign they are in trouble.
- Whenever Tim wants to make changes to an appliance, Jill refuses to let him.
- Tim often makes fun of her on Tool Time, which occasionally leads to arguments
- Jill being an enthusiastic (albeit unsuccessful) matchmaker.
- Jill being more logical and perceptive than Tim.
- Her propensity to promote the women's movement/feminism
- Psychological counseling/messing up relationships
- Tim's habit of getting into trouble with Jill's cars-taking her Austin-Healey without her permission for a joy ride and smashing her Chevy Nomad with a I-beam
- Tim's habit of embarrassing Jill in public-such as making a too large copy of her drivers Id photo for a class reunion; or on Tool Time referring to her as an "Old Hen"
- Jill saying "You're pathetic" every time Tim did something really dumb and/or insensitive, at one point saying it many consecutive times.
- Jill beating Tim in contests-on one episode Jill/Al Borland team beat Tims team in a house for humanity -former US President Jimmy Carter makes a cameo as himself-praising Jill and putting down Tim!
The relationship between Jill and Tim Taylor has been discussed in academic papers about feminism and the men's movement. 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".
- Pierce, Scott D. (May 10, 2009). "TV mothers have become a big part of our lives", Deseret News, p. E1.
- Matthew, Amy (May 8, 2009). "Mother lode: Saluting the most memorable TV moms", McClatchy-Tribune Business News / The Pueblo Chieftain.
- Vancheri, Barbara, and Owen, Rob (May 9, 2004). "Leave It to June Cleaver", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, p. F8.
- Adalian, Josef (May 8, 1993). "Why are TV moms so perfect?", Boston Herald, p. 19.
- (October 1, 2004). "The winding path of TV's woman of the house", USA Today, p. E2.
- Berman, Marc (May 5, 2008). "In Mom's Honor", Mediaweek 18 (18): 58.
- Barbuto, Dana (May 6, 2008). "Mommies Dearest: Though they're fictional, TV's moms reflect changing roles of motherhood", The Patriot Ledger, p. 27.
- 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.
- Hanke, Robert (Winter 1998). "The 'mock-macho' situation comedy: Hegemonic masculinity and its reiteration", Western Journal of Communication 62 (1): 74–93.
- Craig, Steve (1996). "More (male) power: Humor & gender in Home Improvement", The Mid-Atlantic Almanack (5): 61–84.
- Garfinkel, Jacki (May 10, 2012). "Mommy Dearest: The TV Moms You Love". iVillage. Retrieved June 17, 2012.