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Scary Mother-Blankers: A Look at TV's Meanest Moms

Sure, there are more than a few television mothers who are forces for good: paragons of maternal instincts, positive role-models whose children are well-behaved and look up to them or misunderstood martyrs who are just plain unappreciated.

But let's be honest: the TV mothers that are the most memorable tend to play their roles in a no-wire-hangers Joan Crawford kind of way. These moms, sometimes as eeevil as can be, are usually a hell of a lot more fun than their Pollyanna counterparts.

So who made my list of TV's most memorable meanie moms? Let's take a look.

Name: Julie Cooper (The O.C.)
Actress: Melinda Clarke
Likes: Power, money, powerful men with money, decorating large mansions, blackmail, her daughter's cast-off boyfriends, manipulating everyone around her, Newport Living.
Dislikes: Ryan Atwood, downsizing, no-fault divorces, getting jilted, being blackmailed, Chino.
Acts of Treachery and Wanton Evil: Sleeping with daughter Marisa's high school sweetheart Luke, nearly murdering husband Caleb, persisting in calling Kirsten "Kiki," divorcing Jimmy after discovering his financial problems, discarding husbands like used Kleenex, turning a blind eye to Marissa's blatant alcoholism, sending younger daughter Kaitlin away to school and then promptly forgetting all about her.
Joan Crawford-O-Meter: 8. This Real Housewife of Orange County is as nasty a mutha as they come.

Name: Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)
Actress: Jessica Walters
Likes: Gin, keeping Buster under her thumb, adopting Korean children, abusing Lindsay, abusing Lupe, soup, yachts, the amorous attentions of her husband's twin brother Oscar, being zipped up.
Dislikes: Lucille Ostero, Klimpy's restaurants, her driver's license picture, au pairs, her children forgetting her birthday, pool food.
Acts of Treachery and Wanton Evil: Adopting Annyong to make Buster jealous, forcing that same son to take part each year in Motherboy competitions, attempting to run over someone she thought was eldest son GOB and then pinning the ensuing accident on Michael.
Joan Crawford-O-Meter: 7. Her mother's milk of kindness dried up long ago.

Name: Lois Henrickson (Big Love)
Actress: Grace Zabriskie
Likes: Being where the action is, fur coats, smirking, turning her sons against each other, turning her sons against her husband, turning her husband against her sons, the smell of laundered money.
Dislikes: Hubby Frank, being neglected by her family, sister wives, smiling, pumping gas.
Acts of Treachery and Wanton Evil: Committing daughter-in-law Wanda to the "booby trap," turning to granddaughter Sarah for help only to rat her out to her parents, attempting to coerce Wanda into shooting the district attorney, admitting on several occasions that she wishes she had strangled son Bill during infancy.
Joan Crawford-O-Meter: 8. Extra points for also playing hellishly scary mom to Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks.

Name: Lianne Mars (Veronica Mars)
Actress: Corinne Bohrer
Likes: Booze, booze, and more booze. Also: extramarital affairs, unicorn music boxes, grand theft, dive bars, sneaking vodka into water bottles, Jake Kane.
Dislikes: Celeste Kane, standing by her man, people taking surveillance shots of her daughter, rehab.
Acts of Treachery and Wanton Evil: Sleeping with both hubby Keith and high school sweetheart Jake Kane so that the parentage of baby Veronica was in question, running away without so much as a by-your-leave, using Veronica's college fund to enter rehab and then dropping out before completing treatment, running away with a $50,000 check intended for Veronica.
Joan Crawford-O-Meter: 7. A music box is no replacement for a mommy.

Name: Emily Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
Actress: Kelly Bishop
Likes: Cocktail hour, Friday night dinners, her beloved DAR, pearls, guilt trips, trips to Europe, Chilton Academy, redecorating the pool house, anything and everything that granddaughter Rory does.
Dislikes: Unwed mothers, subpar servants, Pennilyn Lott, hospital pillows, the state of Lorelai's life, mushed banana on toast.
Acts of Treachery and Wanton Evil: Blackmailing daughter Lorelai into Friday night dinners in exchange for Rory's tuition, repeatedly springing blind dates on Lorelai, backpedaling on the issue of Rory dropping out of Yale, attempting to break up Lorelai and Luke and push Lorelai and Christopher together, firing every maid she's ever employed.
Joan Crawford-O-Meter: 4. Despite her overbearing ways, she really does want what's best for Lorelai and Rory.

Name: Atia of the Julii (Rome)
Actress: Polly Walker
Likes: Torturing her enemies, status, gossip, sex, self-preservation, manipulating others into doing her bidding, ritually bathing in the blood of animals.
Dislikes: Servilia, honesty, weakness, charity, the taste of ashes and iron, Marc Antony marrying her daughter, her children committing incest, not being the center of attention, that "pigspawn trollop" Cleopatra.
Acts of Treachery and Wanton Evil: Paying to have humiliating graffiti of Servilia and Caesar appear on streets around Rome, hiring Titus Pullo to take son Octavian to a brothel, ordering Timon to publicly strip and beat Servilia and later ordering her kidnapping and brutal torture.
Joan Crawford-O-Meter: 10. Not since Livia Soprano has there been a worse Roman matriarch; Atia virtually wrote an ancient text on bad parenting.

What other villainous matriarchs do you think should have made it on this list? Which one of these malevolent mothers is truly the wickedest of them all? You decide.


Anonymous said…
I agree with all of this, Emily and Lucille are my favourite because they can be pretty hilarious.

What about Irina Derevko from Alias? She was pretty heinous.
Anonymous said…
HA! This was a great rundown of some pretty awful moms in recent TV. And great title, BTW.

I agree with Joe that Irina was another evil mother. My faves are definitely Lucille and Emily but I have to say that Atia takes the cake. She's a monster who must have suckled her children with her own poison.
I'd have to go with Atia on this one because she screwed up her kids the most. Octavia and Octavian are seriously troubled...although the Bluth children aren't far behind!
Anonymous said…
Great post, Jace! As mean and crazy as they are... these woman are some of my favorite characters of all time. So take that Donna Reed!
Anonymous said…
Awesome post. My vote is for Atia though Lucille is far more funny. Remember how she concealed Nana's death from Lindsay and Michael and then pretended she was on the yacht when Gob blew it up?
Anonymous said…
So my friend and I were talking and while we are glad Lianne made the list, we couldn't believe you left out Cecilia Hoades from Weeds. That woman is hideous.

So then we tried to think who we could add to make your list be the Top 10 Meanest TV Moms.

How about Claire's biological mother on Heroes? Ouch. Or Meredith Grey's mom? What about good old Mrs. Martin from 90210? And finally, I have to agree with Jowe on this one. No list of Mean Moms would be complete without Irina Derevko.
Anonymous said…
I think that Lois is at least a 9!

Also, I don't think poor Emily belongs with the likes of these women. :)

Irina D - I heartily agree.
Anonymous said…
Aw, I love Emily Gilmore. She does want the best for her daughter and granddaughter and, at times, does something good (besides it was Richard who first oversteped on Lorelai's plan to keep Rory at Yale...). Lucille is mean but amazing too.

Hey, and don't forget Angela Petrelli from Heroes. Oh, and Lynette's mother from Desperate Housewives: who could win against a mom who takes pleasure making a daughter with cancer feels even more miserable?
okelay said…
you're missing Irina!
i loved her, but she wasn't exactly mom of the year.

also angela petrelli and ellis grey, IMO

i feel im forgetting someone, but i cant remember who

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