Last year I saw three movies with the same antagonist, the “uptight” upper middle class white mom. Seeing them in temporal proximity brought the theme to the forefront of my mind and for some reason, I started ranting about it to my friend today. The movies are American Beauty, Spanglish, and Radiant City (a “documentary.”) Each of these movies focuses around a particular family and in each, the uptight, controlling mom is portrayed as the cause of the stress the family is experiencing. I know blaming the mom is hardly a new theme in American culture, but this is demonization of a specific type of motherhood. I can understand the urge to critique the style of parenthood that involves living in lifeless suburbs and shuttling your children from one activity to another in your over-sized minivan, but can all this dysfunction in American culture really be placed on the shoulders of middle-class soccer moms?

Although I’m not a film scholar, I am very tempted to write seriously on this theme, because I’m convinced that suburbia has negatively affected women and children to a greater extent than men, but moms in particular are often portrayed as the driving force behind the current configuration of suburbia. The writers of these screenplays might want to read some Dolores Hayden, to learn a little more about the relationships between gender, housing, and family life.

My question to you, dear readers, is, “Can you think of any other movies critical of suburbia and motherhood?”

the wife in The Truman Show
Claire Wellington in The Stepford Wives (2004 version)