Myriad of Moms.

by Meredith O’Brien


Moms across primetime programs this past week ran the gamut of maternal behavior. There was bravery, defensiveness, idiocy, cluelessness and all things in between just like what might be going on in our homes right now. Or not.


On one TV show there was a fugitive pot dealer who protected her kid from getting busted for murder. On a different show, a firmly middle class married high school teacher finally told people that she has cancer and is ready to fight it. A working mom of five argued with her nanny, a mom of two, that crying it out was the best option for her baby, while an at-home mom of three insisted she could still be funny even though she seems kinda serious supermom-ish these days. Another working mom with five kids – a real, gun-totin’ one on a reality show – watched bears fight in the wild while her teenage daughter snuck a boy into her bedroom against her mother’s wishes. All of this, when taken together, was a fine reminder that TV’s doing a much better job of depicting the variety of moms out there and that it’s no longer holding out any one mother as perfect or ideal anymore. (Although, to be honest, the pot mom’s an outlier.)


The seasons concluded on two Showtime programs, Weeds and The Big C with their leading moms representing different ends of the spectrum. On Weeds, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) capped a season where her family – a baby boy and two teenage sons – was running from her Mexican politician/drug kingpin husband, as well as from the FBI, after her croquet mallet-wielding teen son murdered her husband’s female Mexican political advisor. The Botwin family’s odyssey concluded after the lot of them, along with Nancy’s former brother-in-law and a former lover of hers, got to the airport, trying to flee to Europe. But neither Nancy nor the baby went with them as she sacrificed her freedom by giving herself up to the FBI and confessing to the murder her son had actually committed.


In a completely different universe in the ‘burbs . . . It may have taken all season and a boatload of immature behavior, but The Big C’s school teacher Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) finally decided that she’d punished her husband Paul enough by pushing him away from her and came clean about what had prompted her radically different behavior: She has stage four melanoma. Together, they told their son teen Adam about the diagnosis, just before Cathy checked herself into the hospital for an experimental cancer treatment. For most of the season, Cathy kept her cancer a secret, kicked her husband out of the house for no real reason, had an affair, had her first bikini wax, spontaneously bought stuff and tried in vain to bond with her son who didn’t get why his mother was acting so strangely. It wasn’t until that son discovered that she’d rented and filled a storage unit with gifts for him for every major milestone, Christmas and birthday for years to come, including a new convertible, when Adam finally realized that his mother is really sick.