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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 3: Emulation, not identification: Sartorial styles, domestic skills and maternal discipline


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Emulation, not identification: Sartorial styles, domestic skills and maternal discipline

Terrestrial television gives us access to numerous television channels, and the list of television stations in the United Kingdom available on satellite and cable systems offers more variety again, with many scheduling 24-hour programming. And in this steady stream of television coverage one might expect mothers in the audience to come across or seek out familiar, recognisable and relatable maternal figures. From this estimation then, it is crucial that we listen to these women as they describe the ways in which they relate to mothers on the small screen and listen carefully when they explain, in detail in many cases, why they do not and cannot identify with the fictional characters and factual personalities that are presented in the schedules. Responses in this chapter relate to a question that I posed in the middle of the questionnaire, namely ‘Are there any mothers on television that you can relate to?’ with the additional help text enquiring ‘Do you feel that you are like these women or can think of experiences that you have seen reflected in the mothers that you see on television? Are you able to identify with their domestic space, relationships, friendships, mothering skills or working environment?’

No, not really and not at all: Struggling to relate to maternal depictions

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