Carrie’s Margaret White. Olivia Foxworthy of Flowers in the Attic. The Goonies’ Mama Fratelli—there are plenty of terrifying movie mothers, but the bad moms of cinema aren’t the only ones who have us praying for the well-being of their spawn. The evil mothers of television have also carved out a niche in our hearts—and nightmares.
And just in time for Mother’s Day, The Daily Beast lists this season’s most memorable meanie moms on TV—from Mad Men’s Betty Draper (January Jones) and Game of Thrones’ Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) to Bates Motel’s Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga)—using a Joan Crawford meter-of-meanness we last used here.
Name: Betty Draper Francis (Mad Men)
Actress: January JonesLikes: Cigarettes, shotguns, snacking on Bugles, child psychologists, the transformative power of black hair dye, Victorian fainting couches, avoiding her children at all costs.Dislikes: Her children; her ex-husband, Don; Weight Watchers; goulash-making West Village hippies; housework, birds.Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Shooting down noisy birds, slapping her daughter Sally after discovering that the girl had cut her hair, making inappropriate rape jokes about her daughter’s friend, engaging in a creepy dynamic with neighborhood boy Glen, sleeping with a stranger while pregnant with her husband’s child, discouraging Sally’s sexual awakening.Joan Crawford-o-meter: 9. She killed innocent birds, people!
Name: Norma Bates (Bates Motel)
Actress: Vera FarmigaLikes: Her son Norman (maybe too much), 1950s housewife dresses, baking, redecorating, seducing police officers, website maintenance, undressing in front of her son, spying on yoga sessions, being touchy-feely with Norman, doing doughnuts in her vintage car.Dislikes: Her other son, Dylan; girls who like Norman; girls who talk to Norman; girls who look at Norman (unless they’re terminally ill).Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Leaving Norman by the side of the road, murdering a man and forcing Norman to help dump the body, refusing to allow Norman to bring a stray dog into the house (only to have it get hit by a car), envisioning Norman in the throes of passion, ignoring Dylan (even after he saves her life), consistently retracting offers to cook breakfast.Joan Crawford-o-meter: 10. She’s the true Psycho here.
Name: Victoria Grayson (Revenge)
Actress: Madeleine StoweLikes: Power, parties, and position.Dislikes: Emily Thorne; Montauk dive bars; anything resembling bourgeois living; Emily Thorne; her husband, Conrad; uppity British assistants. Oh, and Emily Thorne.Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Giving up her baby son so she could attend art school in Paris, faking her death and letting her children think she was dead, framing lover David Clarke and destroying his daughter’s life, pushing heavily pregnant Amanda off the balcony, tampering with evidence, letting former BFF Lydia die on a bomb-laden plane while she made her escape.Joan Crawford-o-meter: 9. She (stylishly) helped to frame the father of her child!
Name: Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones)
Actress: Lena HeadeyLikes: Her brother Jaime (yes, in … that way), holding onto power, intimidation, when things turn out her way.Dislikes: Her late husband (former King Robert Baratheon), her brother Tyrion Lannister, prophecies, arranged marriages, unwanted pregnancies, roses, children.Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Standing by as her brother/lover Jaime pushes young Bran Stark out a window after he catches them having sex, ordering the execution of Sansa’s direwolf, orchestrating the assassination of her husband, denouncing Eddard Stark as a traitor and naming herself queen regent. (Really, the list goes on and on.)Joan Crawford-o-meter: 9.5. The things we do for love.
Name: Regina Mills (Once Upon a Time)
Actress: Lana ParrillaLikes: Apples; stable boys; her son, Henry (questionable); plunging necklines; eyeliner; curses; manipulation.Dislikes: Emma Swan, Mary Margaret, betrayal, free will, true love, happy endings.Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Killing her father to achieve great power, telling Henry his birth mother is dangerous, spray-painting “Tramp” on Mary Margaret’s car, interfering in Henry’s relationship with his teacher, refusing to give up custody of Henry to his true mother, imprisoning her son by casting an anti-escape spell on him, trying (and failing) to cast a spell to get her son to love her. And that curse thing.Joan Crawford-o-meter: 8. She’s the Evil Queen, after all.
Name: Colleen Donaghy (30 Rock)
Actress: Elaine StritchLikes: Hats, Liz Lemon.Dislikes: Everything other than hats and Liz Lemon.Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Nagging Jack his entire life, including blaming him for his father’s departure and JFK’s assassination, trying to send Jack to Vietnam when he was 12 to “make a man out of him,” forcing Jack to play “The Star Spangled Banner” on the flute in front of his hockey team.Joan Crawford-o-meter: 4. She did trade sexual favors with F.A.O Schwarz for Jack’s Christmas presents, after all.
Name: Jackie Florrick (The Good Wife)
Actress: Mary Beth PielLikes: Peter, meddling, pink lipstick, insect brooches, Googling “condoms,” suave Latin nurses.Dislikes: People who hurt Peter; strokes; Alicia; Alicia’s mother, Veronica; being misunderstood.Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Stealing from her grandchildren’s trust fund in order to outbid Alicia on the house she had shared with Peter, constantly meddling in Alicia and her grandchildren’s lives, making up lies in order to get attention, taking her grandchildren to visit Peter in jail behind Alicia’s back, suggesting to her grandchildren that their mother was unfaithful, trying to stop her son from seeing a pastor.Joan Crawford-o-meter: 5. She’s just doing the best she can.
Name: Mags Bennett (Justified)
Actress: Margo Martindale Likes: Apple pie moonshine, poisoning people, Loretta, delivering Shakespearian style speeches. Dislikes: Getting her general store vandalized, getting played, receiving punishment. Acts of treachery and wanton evil: Hitting her mentally challenged son Coover’s hand with a ball-peen hammer for betraying her, rallying the town against Black Pike in order to profit from the deal, poisoning multiple people. Joan Crawford-o-meter: 7. It was in the glass.