When Mila Kunis’ character says, “Let’s be bad moms,” in the Bad Moms trailer, she’s not talking neglect-your-kids bad. What she means is, “Let’s stop trying so hard to attain perfection.” Which is totally understandable.
But when you turn the question of “bad”-ness to the moms of literature, there are definitely mother characters for whom bringing doughnut holes to their kid’s event is a level of kindness they’ll never attain. Let’s take a look at those moms who might be considered legit bad…or just misunderstood.
Ah, Mrs. Bennett. Regarded as silly by her husband, Elizabeth, and the author, this mom gets a bad rap. But when you think about the time period she lived in, can you blame her for trying to get her daughters some financial security? Even if she wasn’t…very effective, the lady did try.
Mrs. Coulter kinda proves the saying that beauty can be deceiving. If you read only the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, you probably think of her as pure evil. If you read all three books, you might think of her as, eh, complicated. No spoilers, though. No spoilers.
She probably should’ve chosen books. Along with her husband, Mrs. Wormwood “looked upon Matilda in particular as nothing more than a scab.” She didn’t respect Matilda for being smart, which doesn’t endear her to the nerd community. We all imagined that we were Matilda, brilliant and misunderstood, rather than her used car scam artist salesmen parents.
Katniss comes down really hard on her mother, so it’s tempting for readers to do the same. We see why Katniss was mad--her mother fell into a depression, and Katniss had to step up and feed her family. That said, depression can be really difficult to overcome. Is Mrs. Everdeen a villain or a victim?
Pretty Much Every Stepmother in a Fairy Tale
If you go by fairy tales, the road to happily ever after seems to paved with a stepmother who wants you dead. Or waiting on her, at least. Cinderella, Snow White, and Hansel and Gretel all had to deal with their father’s new wife viewing them as competition. There are sometimes retellings that show them as misunderstood, but in the original tales, their roles are pretty bleak.