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Mothers on Mothers

Maternal Readings of Popular Television

Rebecca Feasey

From Supernanny to Gilmore Girls, from Katie Price to Holly Willoughby, a wide range of examples of mothers and motherhood appear on television today. Drawing on questionnaires completed by mothers across the UK, this book sheds new light on the varied and diverse ways in which expectant, new and existing mothers make sense of popular representations of motherhood on television. The volume examines the ways in which these women find pleasure, empowerment, escapist fantasy, displeasure and frustration in popular depictions of motherhood. The research seeks to present the voice of the maternal audience and, as such, it takes as its starting point those maternal depictions and motherwork representations that are highlighted by this demographic, including figures such as Tess Daly and Katie Hopkins and programmes like TeenMom and Kirstie Allsopp’s œuvre.
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Chapter 2: Maternal preferences: From ordinary celebrity to the sitcom star


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Maternal preferences: From ordinary celebrity to the sitcom star

There are a myriad of maternal figures represented on the small screen, spanning reality to fiction, comedy to serious drama, presenters, pundits, commentators and personalities. In this same way, there are a myriad of ways of mothering in line with age, class, geographic and lifestyle preferences. With this in mind, it is enlightening to see which mothers, maternal figures, tropes and archetypes have proved popular with mothers in the audience. Responses in this chapter relate to a question that I posed early on in the questionnaire, namely, ‘who are your favourite mothers on television, what is it that you find entertaining or appealing about these women?’ The added help text provided a prompt if necessary, asking ‘do you like to watch maternal characters on soap opera, sitcoms, police, hospital, teen drama or television adverts? Alternatively, do you like to watch “real” mothers in reality television, celebrity programming, gossip and chat shows, make-over fashion, cookery, gardening or home improvement programmes? Do you like where they live, how they behave, how they relate to their family or their working role?’

Televisual and vocational personalities: More than a mother

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