Some moms are good.
Some moms are bad.
And some are really, REALLY bad.
So I thought it might be fun to compile a list of some of the worst moms in contemporary fiction. I assembled a team of experts (a.k.a. Facebook and blogging buddies) and asked them to tell me who they thought were the worst fictional moms over the past fifty years or so. Then I added my own two cents. Below are the results.
A few are funny. Most are scary. All make me thank my lucky stars I didn't get them as a mother. But let's get to the good stuff...I mean the bad stuff. Oh, you know what I mean. Here they are in chronological order:
Eleanor Iselin from Richard Condon's 1959 book, The Manchurian Candidate, later turned into the 1962 movie. Cold and calculating, this deliciously wicked Russian spy did anything for power, including letting her grown son be brainwashed into an assassin. Add a creepy kiss into the mix and you’ve got one twisted woman.
Hattie Dorsett from Flora Rheta Schreiber’s 1973 book, Sybil, later turned into the 1976 made-for-TV mini-series. Why did Sybil have so many different personalities? Because of her mother, of course. Doling out physical, mental and sexual abuse, this mom won the trifecta for terrible behavior.
Margaret White from Stephen King’s 1974 book, Carrie, later turned into the 1976 movie. Christian fundamentalism + batcrap crazy = this awful freak of a mother. Thank goodness Carrie had sweet and wonderful high school classmates to fall back on. Oh, that’s right. They were nasty, too. Poor Carrie. If only she had horrific powers enabling her to take revenge….
Joan Crawford, as inspired by the real Joan Crawford, from the 1978 memoir, Mommie Dearest, which inspired the 1991 movie. Okay, okay. This woman was a real person, but it was Faye Dunaway’s characterized performance of her as an alcoholic tyrant that turned her into one of the worst mommy legends of all time. Based on the first tell-all book by her adopted daughter, a lot of Crawford’s friends disputed the book. But the public didn’t care. They couldn’t get enough of the phrase, “No wire hangers!” The truth of it all? We’ll never know.
Corinne (mom) and Olivia (grandma) from V.C. Andrew’s 1979 book, Flowers in the Attic. What comes between a mom and her father’s inheritance? In this case, nothing, even if it means hiding your kids in an attic for years and then trying to kill them with poison. Don’t worry, though, grandma knew the kids were there, too, which is why she starved and beat them repeatedly. Man, what a team they made.
Mrs. Lift from the 1987 movie comedy, Throw Momma from the Train. How bad does a mom have to be for her grown son to want to kill her? Pretty dang bad. There’s only one way to get this abusive battle axe of a mom to stop pestering her son -- throw her from a train!
Peg Bundy from the 1987-1997 comedy TV series, Married with Children. This woman was nothing to laugh about. Well, actually she was. This loud mouthed, no work, sit on the couch all day queen of hair spray was a role model of the worst kind.
Lily Dillon from the 1990 movie drama, The Grifters. Think Mom’s always got your back? Not this one. This viciously cold-blooded con artist was willing to do anything, even sacrifice her own son, just for a few bucks.
Beverly R. Sutphin from 1994’s movie comedy, Serial Mom. Ah, June Cleaver with a cleaver. This pearls and pumps suburban mom had only one small problem: her feathers got ruffled easily. When her daughter was stood up on a date, she murdered the boy. When her neighbor failed to recycle, she murdered her, too. A lot of people with bad manners were punished. A mother's job is never done.
Mary Jones, from the 1996 book, Push, later turned into the 2009 movie, Precious. Incredibly abusive, lazy, ignorant, and selfish, this ghetto mom to teenager Precious Jones had no love for her daughter. Read the book, saw the movie, and I’m still shuddering.
Livia Soprano from the 1999-2007 drama TV Series, The Sopranos. What mom would convince her brother to put out a hit on her son? This conniving one would. With the sole aim of making everyone in her path miserable, this Mob matriarch knew how to push everyone’s buttons and did. The inspiration for her character? The creator of the show’s own mother.
Mom from the animated series, Futurama, that began in 1999. Thank goodness this woman is a cartoon. Can you imagine her in real life? This ‘sweet old woman’ is a foul-mouthed, evil narcissist who loves manipulating the three sons who help run MomCorp. Yikes!
Julie Cooper from the 2003-2007 TV drama series, The O.C. Just because she was pretty didn't mean she wasn't wicked. The woman manipulated. The woman exploited. The woman slept with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend. Not cool. Bad mom, bad!
Honorable mentions also go to Estelle Costanza from the 1989-1998 comedy TV series, Seinfeld, and Marie Barone from the 1996-2005 comedy TV series Everybody Loves Raymond. Sorry guys, you made me laugh too much to hate you!
Anyway, how'd we do? Anyone we missed? Who's the baddest of the bunch? I'll be a good mom and listen. Promise.