Maternal Readings of Popular Television
Chapter 4: Bad mothers and poor role models: Maternal inadequacy and the problem of perfection
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Bad mothers and poor role models: Maternal inadequacy and the problem of perfection
Women in the audience find themselves drawn to a number of comedic and dramatic representations of motherhood that span different channels and schedules, and although such depictions offer a range of escapist fantasies, potential role models and the opportunity for emulation, there are a number of maternal depictions that create a sense of pity, disgust and mistrust. It is important to think about the ways in which certain depictions of motherhood are reviled while others revered, and the ways in which these distinctions can be seen to pick up on broader debates concerning the socially acceptable ‘good’ mother or the culturally inappropriate ‘bad’ mother as they are evident in the broader social and entertainment landscape (Feasey 2012b).
I asked the question ‘Are there mothers on television that you feel negatively towards, what is it about these mothers that encourages ridicule or disapproval?’ With the additional help text asking ‘Do you feel negatively towards their appearance, family, maternal behaviour, friendships, relationships, domestic space or working efforts?’ It is interesting to note the diversity of responses here in terms of the details provided. I do not mean simply in terms of the length of the responses proposed, but rather, in terms of minutia of information given. While some participants provided generalised comments about those maternal representations that irked or irritated, others spoke about specific genres,...
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