This week’s 50 Book Pledge Featured Read is The Bridge Ladies, a true story by Betsy Lerner about how, with the help of her Mother’s weekly Bridge club, she was able to reconnect (and finally understand) her Mom. The Bridge table became the common ground they never had; the women around it indispensable friends with values her own generation lacked.
After reading The Bridge Ladies (over Mother’s Day weekend, no less), I couldn’t help but reflect on some of my favourite mothers from books, film, and television. The role of the mother is never easy – whether you have to be her, act her, or write her. To create a mother figure in any pop culture setting that stands out as more than just a supporting character is hard, and yet the following women do. Sometimes soft, sometimes hard, they have proven that they have what it takes to protect their kids! So check it out!
Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)
So obvious. But it had to be said. Anyone who’s anyone knows that Mrs. Weasley is one of the best mothers in the game. She’s sweet and caring – not just to her own kids, but to Harry as well. And yet, when things turn darker in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, Mrs. Weasley is right on the front lines, doing battle to protect the ones that she loves.
(It doesn’t even need the subtitles, does it? You all know what she says here!)
Natalie Prior (Divergent)
As far as tough female figures go, Tris is pretty far up there. She gave up everything she ever knew for a life that she wasn’t even sure she wanted. But Tris isn’t the only female Prior to shock young readers. Tris’s mom, Natalie, was the soft-spoken, passive mother who turned out the be an ultimate heroine.
Isobel Crawley (Downton Abbey)
The Dowager Countess gets a lot of love from Downton fans, and I totally get why – she’s clever and tough and totally fun to watch on television (and who doesn’t love Dame Maggie Smith?). But I’d like to draw some attention to my favourite Crawley, the unconventional Isobel Crawley. She’s always ready to help the ostracized, down-trodden members of society. She’s progressive – well, progressive for early-20th-century England – and she raises her son to take on society with the same attitude.
Marilla Cuthbert (Anne of Green Gables)
Not quite the stereotypical maternal figure, Marilla Cuthbert is still making my list of favourite mothers. She’s strict and harsh throughout most of the Anne of Green Gables series, but you can’t deny that she cares deeply for Anne. I love Marilla for her no-nonsense approach to life; she is the perfect balance to Anne. The tiny moments where Anne and Marilla share and teach each other are among my favourites from the book.
Shirley Bennet (Community)
Shirley Bennet takes on the mother role in a few different ways in this sitcom. First, she is the single mother to two kids who decides to better their lives by returning to school. She works hard in order to attend school and support her family. You can’t help but respect her tenacity. And then, of course, there is the mothering role she takes on within her study group. She’s overbearing, opinionated, and hilarious, and despite her faults, she truly is a goodhearted woman.
I don’t think there was ever a mother that I felt so deeply for. Ma was taken into the most horrific scenario: kidnapped as a young woman and forced to live for years in her captor’s backyard. But after she gives birth the her kidnapper’s child, Ma puts all her energy into raising her son. I still get chills thinking about the kind of strength it would take to do such a thing – to be trapped in a nightmare and manage to create an entire world for a little boy.
Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
This will likely be an unsurprising addition. Anyone who grew up watching Gilmore Girls had serious mom-envy when it came to Lorelai. She was cool and fun and let Rory eat candy and drink coffee and always let her sentences go on for way too long. But when the situation called for it, Lorelai could also be a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is type of mother (we all remember the dark Rory-Logan-Yale drama). And though most of us undoubtedly grew to appreciate the Moms that we had, you can’t help but admire the unconventional parental styling of Lorelai.
Hannah & Tate (Jellicoe Road)
Jellicoe Road is one of my favourite YA novels. It’s so underrated and SO GOOD. And because of how good it is (and how insistent I am that everyone should read and discover it for themselves), I can’t tell you much about why these mother figures mean so much to me. What I can tell you is that the mother-daughter story lines that exist in Jellicoe Road are heartbreaking and inspiring. All the women show their strength in so many different ways and show that love can take many different forms.
Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls)
So. Sassy. Despite pretending to be senile from time to time, Sophia was full of wisdom. Of course, that wisdom often came in the form of snarky comments. Estelle Getty was amazing in the role of Sophia, perfectly capturing her frank nature for years. (PS. If you have any Golden-Girls obsessed people in your life, you should check out Jim Colucci‘s new book, Golden Girls Forever!)
Julie Cooper-Nichol (The O.C.)
This one is a controversial choice, I’ll admit. (Though not as controversial as Cersei Lannister, whom I definitely had on the longlist for this post!) Anyone who watched The OC during their formative teen years knew what Julie Cooper (Nichol) was all about. She’s power hungry and cutthroat, willing to take people down to get what she wants. But I’ve been fighting a long battle for her honour. Daughter ODs and is showing erratic behaviour? Might be a good idea to remove her from the situation and get her into a great care facility. And yet for most the seasons she was painted as the villain. Huh.
So who are your favourite mothers from the realm of books/movies/television? Did I miss any big ones? Let me know!
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