From Mommie Dearest to Cersei Lannister, bad moms aren’t a trope. They’re art imitating life.
Being a mom is a challenge. Everything you do is under scrutiny, but the harshest critic you’ll find as a mother is likely yourself. Sometimes I will pack my child a delicious Lunchable, allow her to stay on the computer for longer than a half hour or let her skip the teeth-brushing part of the evening and wonder aloud if this is the thing that irrevocably effs her up.
To that end, though, I’ve learned that the best strategy to take in the high stakes world of parenting is not to strive to be the best parent. The trick is to be not as bad as the crappiest parent. Whenever I feel down about my parenting skills, I like to think of the following 10 horrible mothers, and then that dinner of mac and cheese and Oreos doesn’t seem nearly as bad.
1. Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
OK, so maybe you don’t have everything 100 percent together all of the time. But look on the bright side! You’re not a sociopathic nightmare woman who does the nasty with her brother. Well done, you! That’s a gold star!
2. Mother Gothel, Tangled
Mother Gothel isn’t even technically Rapunzel’s mom in this movie, but she still manages to do enough lasting traumatic damage to keep ye olde royal therapist in business for the rest of poor Rapunzel’s life.
3. Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest
This isn’t even technically fiction, but the story of Joan and Christina Crawford is so thoroughly jacked up that it’s hard to believe it isn’t, so that should make you feel double extra better about letting your child watch SpongeBob while you take a nap.
4. Mom of Mom’s Friendly Robot Company, Futurama
Mom doesn’t just line her children up for the sole purpose of slapping them, she also runs a corrupt, evil corporation. Do you do either of those things? No? So what are you worried about?
5. Corrine Dollanganger, Flowers in the Attic
Maybe you haven’t put real pants on for months on end, but you know what you’ve never done? You’ve never locked your children in an attic and allowed your own mother to poison them slowly just so you can get your hands on a fortune. So, hooray.
6. Lettie Mae, True Blood
Lettie Mae was an abusive, alcoholic, neglectful religious zealot and even after all of that Tara still wanted her mother in her life. So there’s hope for you.
7. Mary Jones, Precious
It’s hard to even make a cohesive joke about Mo’Nique’s portrayal of Mary Jones in Precious, the film version of Sapphire’s novel, Push, because it was so profoundly, pervasively messed up. On your worst days, repeat this mantra: I am not Mary Jones. I am not Mary Jones. I am not Mary Jones.
8. Betty Draper, Mad Men
Betty Draper was your quintessential frustrated, chain-smoking, tush-swatting, narcissistic, unmaternal bitch, if you’ll excuse my French. You can consider yourself a glowing success if you can honestly say you’ve never blown clouds of cigarette smoke in your children’s faces and made them feel unloved.
9. Lucille Bluth, Arrested Development
You wouldn’t want Lucille Bluth as a mom. Foul-mouthed, alcoholic and neglectful, the only thing worse than being Lucille’s least favorite child is being her most favorite child. Buster will likely never recover.
10. Margaret White, Carrie
If you can make it through your daughter’s pubescent stage without referring to her breasts as “dirty pillows,” you are most likely in the clear.