In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
Who is a favorite fictional mother?
I naturally gravitate to motherly characters, especially when it comes to my TV shows. There’s just something deeply interesting about navigating individual and collective identities, and I think being a parent encompasses the intricacies of that debate.
With that in mind, I want to highlight two characters that have captured my thoughts.
Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights
For a character whose primary name of reference is “Mrs Coach”, Tami Taylor is one of the most *real* mother figures I’ve ever seen on TV. She is headstrong, passionate, career-driven, caring, and most importantly, she doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to parenting. And who does? Tami Taylor embodies the trials and tribulations that come with being a parent, and I loved to watch her character evolve and stick to her guns. It wasn’t easy; her husband seems to be particularly hard to live with, but she trusted herself and loved herself and in the end, Coach Taylor finally supported *her*.
Julia Braverman, Parenthood
This one is a little bit more personal; I’ve identified with Julia since I started watching this show. I just find her character *so* interesting, and you can read all about why in my backlog of Parenthood recaps. This past season has been particularly tough to watch, but I really loved how the show dealt with separation and the effects it can have on motherhood. Julia will bring me to tears everytime.
(Maybe the lesson in all of this is that Jason Katims is really good at portraying mothers in TV shows?)
I have a really good relationship with my own mother, and I have a deep respect and admiration for the way she raised me and the things she sacrificed to do so. So when I think about fictional mothers I love, they’re inevitably the ones that remind me of my mom. And no fictional mother has reminded me more of my own than Harry Potter’s Molly Weasley.
Molly takes a lot of flack sometimes for being a stereotype — she’s a stay-at-home mom whose identity entirely revolves around motherhood. And if she were the only female character in the canon, I’d agree. But as one of many women who dot the landscape of Harry Potter, she serves as a valid example of one possible path that women might follow. And she’s AWESOME. She successfully raised seven children and is always willing to open her doors to more (thus providing Harry with the kind of motherly love he never knew past infancy). She’s willing to defend her children with her life, as in her battle against Bellatrix LeStrange, but she’s also someone who fights the good fight on a broader scale, as a member of the Order of the Phoenix. And she does all this while having a loving and functional relationship with her husband, who is a great parent in his own right, though he’s home less frequently because of work. This is the kind of family I grew up in (my parents met when they are EMTs, which is kind of like fighting Voldemort) and it’s the kind of family I aspire to have one day. I hope I can be even half the mother my mom and Molly Weasley are.
My first choice was Molly Weasley as well. After I saw that Jennifer selected Molly as her choice, I spent a long time trying to think of another fictional mother I was equally fond of. But running through the books, films, and television shows I love most, I realize that moms often get the short end of the stick in those narratives. That’s a damn shame, because in real life, mothers would be fighting alongside their kids against whatever evil they may face – just like Molly does. It would be awesome if that truth was depicted more frequently. BUT, in the spirit of the day, here are a couple of other fictional mothers I like *almost* as well:
– Lorelai Gilmore: Gilmore Girls was an awesome show, and I was always impressed with Lorelai’s ability to balance being her daughter’s friend and parent. Since I was like 10 when the show was first airing, this concept was still alien to me. Now that I’m older and I’ve realized that moms really do make great friends, I’ve continued to appreciate this show that is centered almost entirely on the mother-daughter relationship. Plus I really really like the Lord of the Rings references.
– Rayna James: This is a newer example, but Rayna from Nashville is an awesome mom. She’s compassionate, she’s got common sense that doesn’t quit, and she always seems to have her priorities in the right place. She’s also pretty great at wrangling her teenage daughter’s moods, which seems like an almost impossible task. Every scene where something is going wrong, I just want Rayna to come in and talk some sense into everyone. She’s the best.
I don’t really know what else to say. Clair Huxtable is a mother of five, a lawyer, and super awesome. This “rant” (aka genius) is just a small sampling of her greatness.
There are so many amazing fictional mothers I want to give a shoutout to, but alas. Thanks to my friend Alicia, I narrowed it down to one Melissa McCall.
Melissa is the mother of the title character of Teen Wolf and boy, does she do a fantastic job. As a single mom who works all hours as a nurse, Melissa is shown to carry some guilt when Scott gets into some legal trouble, believing that it had to do with her not being at home. She doesn’t find out about the werewolf thing until later
The thing is, Melissa did an amazing job raising Scott. That boy went through the most character development of anyone throughout the show and, canonically, a lot can be attributed to his mom. Scott’s greatest characteristic is his need to do the right thing and his care for others, two aspects that the audience has witnessed Melissa reinforcing on screen.
Melissa is kind, hilarious, beautiful, and all around badass. Here’s to you, woman!
So what about you? Who is a favorite fictional mother?