Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day 2011...

These days it seems like the more mother/daughter relationships on television are explored, the more they are strained. Perhaps that is just because the most depictions we have are those of teenage daughters and their mothers, and well, that's a pretty accurate re-telling. But what is unfortunate, then, is that those who act as surrogate mothers for young women in a time of need or when they simply feel like they can't-- or don't want to-- talk to their own parents don't seem to get any recognition. Certainly not by the actual parents who are too often jealous and ungrateful, and certainly not by society as a whole. There is a Mother's Day; there is a Father's Day; there is no "Confidante and/or Role Model Day." Until now.

For this Mother's Day, Made Possible by Pop Culture is taking a look at those television relationships that may not have once been bound by an umbilical cord but are still (or maybe even more so because of that) inspiring and positive examples. Some may not be bound by any sort of biological connection; some may not be that far apart in age after all; but all are beneficial relationships, helping shape generations. And they deserve a little praise and a whole lot of respect!

When Haddie Braverman couldn't deal with her parents forbidding her from seeing Alex, she ran to a familiar face for comfort, a roof over her head, and a supportive ear: her grandmother, Camille (Parenthood). Sure, you could say Haddie just had white girl problems, but she has been blessed to live a very charmed life, and any little upset when you have things relatively easy seems that much more magnified simply because it's the only hardship you've ever known. This was the first time she was in love, and though Camille didn't necessarily agree that running away was the answer, she took her in to keep her safe and to give her someone to whom to vent if she needed it. Still, she never tried to undermine Haddie's relationship with her own mother or get between the two of them; she merely acted as a buffer, one who has been through all of this before, in order to allow her wisdom to help two women who were hurting from the strain of the separation

Nikita may not have given birth to Alex, but she has quite literally saved her life a few times, so that has to count for something, right? Even if it turns out that some of her motives may be more selfish than we could have imagined, out of guilt. But more than that, she saw this young girl's potential and challenged her to live up to it while also challenging her to do some real good-- not only for herself but for society as a whole by helping her eliminate the security threat that is Division. She taught her to stand up and fight for herself-- literally, but also in terms of knowing what she is worth and not settling for anything less.

Dr. O'Hara and Jackie Peyton are colleagues, friends, and relatively close in age, so they should be considered equals, but in many ways Jackie is still a bit of a child and in need of guidance and aid from her seemingly wiser and more worldly friend (Nurse Jackie). Jackie is smart, sure, but in her addiction she goes for instant gratification which leads to a lot of immature mistakes. O'Hara is always there to clean up after her as any mother would, but like a good mother, she is never willing to just sweep things under the rug. She looks out for Jackie and keeps her secrets but does what she thinks is best for her, even if it pisses Jackie off in the process. Hell, she has even given her financial support at times!

Shirley Bennett is the mother hen of the entire Greendale Community College study group, and I couldn't think of anyone better for the job. She holds everyone up to a higher moral standard and through one part guilt, one part threat, and one part sheer determination manages to get them-- all of them, even Jeff Winger!-- to think about their actions. And then think again just to be sure. She makes them all want to be better people, and by the end of the series, she just may succeed!

Tami Taylor has two biological daughters, one who is still too young to really benefit from all of her training as a counselor and mentor, and one who never really seemed to want any advice from her. But she shaped a number of girls at both Dillon and West Dillon, and by default, all across the nation as we watched her be compassionate, understanding, and probably most importantly, calm when she was approached with issues of low self-esteem, athletes pressuring girls into uncomfortable sexual situations, teen pregnancies, and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. She couldn't save everyone, but she certainly turn a number of lives around enough so they wouldn't become cliches or statistics. Even when her already-wide eyes went even larger with the surprise of about what her students were opening up to her, she never got bent out of shape; she never reacted out of that shock or of pure emotions; and most importantly, she never judged (Friday Night Lights).

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