Some Bad Mother Bundlers
Let's be real: most viewers already have their Mother's Day plans this weekend, and it's not with the beloved Carol Brady types. The mothers of dragons and incestuous love princes will continue to dominate the cable and internet feeds (not to mention, 99.9% of the pop cultural discourse) from Sunday night through the following weekend when the show undoubtedly breaks streaming records with the series finale. Don't worry, we here at Bundler aren't going to harp on the success of Game of Thrones at the risk of spoilers and general ENNUI. While we're not totally averse to mom-centric counter-programming lists that include traditional favorites like Terms of Endearment and Lady Bird, we do think it's time to lean in to the more, um, problematic mother figures in film and TV. To that end, here is a list of some delightfully messed up mothers to celebrate this weekend.
The king of camp before the Met Gala made it the season's hottest trend, John Waters has been tearing down the tropes and archetypes of Americana since the Nixon years. In one of his later, more mainstream films, a picturesque suburban housewife (Kathleen Turner) takes her Martha Stewart-like need for perfection to murderous extremes. Raising a good family is hard, unrewarding work for the most part, so there's a real sense of righteousness beneath the gleeful absurdity of Beverly's killing spree. (Starz via Amazon)
How do you raise a notorious Olympic failure and win a much deserved late stage character actress Oscar? Craig Gillespie's tragicomic look at the trials and errors of figure skate Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) focused on the unique role her mother played throughout her career. LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) is mean, abusive and sabotaging towards her talented daughter's dreams of escaping the family's white trash status. Of course, LaVona would argue she provided negative reinforcement, offering a more realistic assessment of her daughter's life choices and opportunities. Perhaps both sides of the story are true. (Hulu)
Not to be confused with the Albert Brooks comedy featuring a subtly dark turn from Debbie Reynolds, whose own mothering was the inspiration for another fictional screen matron, or with another similarly titled film on this list, Joon-Ho Bong 's off-beat horror mystery flips the Norman Bates parenting dynamic on its head. Kim Hye-ja's title character, addressed as mother throughout the film, illustrates the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, even an adult son accused of murder, and the contagiousness of guilt. (Netflix; Shudder)
Yes, Todd Haynes' adaptation of the classic James M. Cain novel about a hardworking single mother (Kate Winslet) in Depression-era Los Angeles is technically a limited series about the length of a full TV season. And yes, the only thing that's really off about Mildred is her inability to see her own daughter for what she is... and maybe her taste in men. Still, she's a tragically flawed mother for the ages, a stark reminder that the Greatest Generation may not have been all it was cracked up to be. Cable subscribers can also view the Joan Crawford original on Sunday. (Amazon; HBO NOW; HBO GO)
Probably the most polarizing film of the past few years, Darren Aronofsky's surreal environmentalist allegory feature punctuation to differentiate from all those similarly titled films. There's also a good question as to whether Jennifer Lawrence's character technically constitutes a mother or not. Of course, the only way to decide is to watch it. Whether you find yourself in the camp that loves it or hates it, at the very least you'll think about it for the next few days after viewing. (Hulu; Amazon)
Fun fact, as Ghostface from Scream reminded us, Jason Voorhees wasn't actually the killer in the movie that started it all. The killer didn't wear a hockey mask either. But let's just say before little Jason came back from the dead to wreak havoc on promiscuous teenagers, he had a little help from a boy's best friend. Happy Mother's Day from Jason's mom! (Showtime; Showtime Anytime; Amazon via Showtime)