With the exception of the occasional mature, cashmere turtleneck-wearing divorcée in a Nancy Meyers film, rom-coms don’t have much use for single mothers. They’d rather focus on the “first comes love,” not the “my egg supply is dwindling, Prince/ss Charming is taking their damn sweet time, and if I don’t have this baby now, I never will” alternative. (Single dads, on the other hand, are a big-screen goldmine. See: Sleepless in Seattle, The Holiday, Love Actually, Three Men and a Baby, etc.)
But not even Hollywood can ignore the reality that many women are more invested in motherhood than in meet-cutes, especially when this reality somehow permits filmmakers to bust out an absurd biological clock dream sequence or animated montage in which a leading lady drools over every baby she encounters. Really, oh, screenwriters?
The past three decades have given us a handful of female movie characters who embark on solo parenthood through various avenues with mixed results. Some plots move the needle forward, touching on important topics related to infertility, “superwoman syndrome” and gender roles. Others, however, perpetuate outdated notions — including the one that involves a dreamy dude swooping in at any moment.
Read on to see which films resonate and which ones repel.