In The Single Mother Project I am trying to get to the bottom of the negative connotations associated with single parents, by analysing (ish) films, TV shows and books that feature single parents. The good, the bad, and the ugly will all be discussed.
Bad Moms (2016) – available on Amazon Video
I expected to hate this mothering movie (the title is pretty dire, no?) that stars Mila Kunis as the ultimate ‘bad mom’. But I actually loved it. Not watch-it-again-and-again-and-tell-your-friends loved it, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
Mila Kunis appears to be a single mother as the film opens, dropping the kids at school, rushing to work, keeping all the balls in the air on her own and receiving negative attention from the ‘super-mums’ at the school gates as she rushes from place to place, always slightly late. But she has a husband at home. SPOLIER ALERT: By the end of the film, she IS a single mother, but I loved this reminder that just because you have a man at home doesn’t mean you aren’t doing everything your-bloody-self anyway.
The themes about motherhood and judgement touched on in the film are nail-on-the-head accurate. The idea that you’re either a ‘good mum’ or a ‘bad mum’ in the eyes of the world is all-too familiar, and the universal truth that becomes clear at the end is that we all feel like we fall into the ‘bad moms’ category, regardless of how we’re performing.
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Single mum character: Carla, played by Kathryn Hahn
The single mother of the film, naturally, falls into the ‘bad moms’ group. Carla, portrayed by Kathryn Hahn, is a lackadaisical single mother of one son, who sometimes forget-slash-doesn’t-want-to pick up her child from school, can usually be found drinking in a bar, and is rumoured to be trying to bed half the happily-married school dads. At one point, in fact, she tries to recruit mothers to a PTA rally meeting by threatening to sleep with their husbands.
Perfectly harmless fun, right?
Wrong. Single mothers on the big and small screens are repeatedly portrayed as a ‘hot mess’. They drink too much, they wear skirts that are too short. They flirt with married men. They are an embarrassment to their children. She is the only single mother character in the film and this is not a new picture we’re being presented with.
I fully expect that when I watch the sequel ‘Bad Moms Christmas’ (I haven’t, FYI) a few months of singledom will have driven Mila Kunis’ character to drink, and we’ll find her bar-hopping in skin-tight clothes, doing a second-rate parenting job and being generally a bit crap.
Oh wait, I’ve just watched the trailer and she’s now with Jessie, the unbelievably hot widower she hooked up with in Bad Moms. So, she’s escaped a life of tragic single motherhood, thankfully for her and her kids.
While on the subject though, I’d like to take this moment to talk about Jessie. Why is the hot widower always a widower and not a divorcee? Single mothers in movies are always tragic hot messes that couldn’t hold down a husband, but single dads are always (very attractive) poor grieving widowers somehow doing a brilliant job with their children, at no point turning to alcohol, wearing overly-tight clothes or threatening to sleep with people’s wives.
In fact, Jessie does sleep with Mila while she’s on a trial separation from her husband, but at no point are we led to believe he’s a wife-stealer or threatening in any way. He’s a loveable, handsome widower.
It’s hard to know whether this ‘hot widower’ character cliché is more offensive to single mothers or single fathers to be honest. I’ll discuss further in another post (bet you CANNOT WAIT).
Single Mother take-away: Single mothers are slutty (yawn), unreliable, heavy drinkers who are not to be trusted around your husband. Excellent.
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