With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I got to thinking of all the great mama drama we’ve been privy to here on THIRTEEN. The country houses, farm houses and castles of Old Blighty are teeming with classic stories. Here are some of my picks for the Top Dearest Mommy Moments from the shows we’ve enjoyed here on THIRTEEN. These programs have given us so, so many funny or heartwarming or crazy scenes to choose from, it is tough to narrow down the list to just a few. I’m sure you’ve got your own favorites that were egregiously overlooked on my list, so please feel free to share your own picks in the comments section below.
I Saw Mommy Kissing…Just About Everyone:
Last Tango in Halifax just might have the widest array of dysfunctional relationships and people anywhere. Every person is crazy. Everyone. Those poor sheep on Gillian’s farm don’t stand around in the field saying, “Baaaahhh…baaaahhhh…” They stand around saying, “WTF?…WTF?…” The range of dysfunction runs from the moderately dysfunctional Caroline to the completely, non-functional Gillian, the shag-aholic who never runs out of ways to self-destruct. (She even bonked the guy who killed Victor Colleano!) But as for the most poignant mama moment (or moments), they occurred when Kate was tragically killed, before even getting to meet her baby, and her ‘ghost’ hung around to help Caroline cope. Those conversations Caroline was able have with Kate, before her spirit took off for good, were both reassuring and gut wrenching all at once. Sigh.
We are starting to see the tragedy of the Thalidomide scandal play out on Call the Midwife. For a brief period, this Mother’s Little Helper was thought of as a miracle drug, but as we know now, it was nothing short of a mother’s nightmare. The first Thalidomide baby born in Poplar earlier this season brought absolute shock, with the midwives having no idea how do deal with the situation or how to break the news to the parents. Thinking she wouldn’t be able to deal with it all, they left the mother completely in the dark. But the moment she laid eyes on her swaddled baby and began to unwrap her, the power of love shown through in one simple line, “You’re mine!” That said it all.
Your Mama Don’t Dance:
Call the Midwife fave Chummy always had a difficult relationship with her mummy; each was, seemingly, a disappointment to the other. Lady Browne disapproved of her daughter and her turning her back on her titled birthright for her life of service in the East End. Yet, as it turned out, Lady Browne lost everything and became a penniless aristocrat, homeless but no less demanding, looking for a place to die, but unable to say. In her mother’s last days, with the help of Sister Monica Joan, Chummy was able to put aside her animosity for the mother who never touched her and make peace. This was shown very poignantly with the simple gesture of Chummy giving her dying mother a manicure. That truly is what so much of Call the Midwife is about: Simple gestures of kindness and dignity – and love.
One of Downton Abbey’s most memorable episodes was when Edith had her Norma Rae moment, finally stood in her truth, marched into farmer Drewe’s house and took Marigold out for champagne and ice cream. I know this was controversial, with many Downtonians feeling bad for Mrs. Drewe, yet another famer’s wife left on the scrap heap of Edith’s self-realization. But I have to say, if I have to take sides, I side with Edith on this one. She had never, not for a moment, stopped loving or longing for Marigold. It was only the trap of society that made her give her love child up in the first place. She was always trying to figure out a way to keep her, until finally the siren call of baby Marigold was more than she could take. She had to pull out her Mama Card and claim Marigold as her own…to a degree. It still remains to be seen how it plays out. The story of Edith and Marigold is one I hope we get to revisit in the future, don’t you? Will Edith tell her? When? How? I want to know! Sigh. But for now, we’ll just have to think of them as living in a big, imposing castle with a Prince and an evil mother of a mother-in-law — and lots of champagne and ice cream.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand (On the Radiator):
I always think the best mothers are grandmothers and on a day like Mother’s Day I miss my grandmother a lot. Actually, I miss her a lot every day. Over six seasons of Downton Abbey we saw only glimpses of the kind of formidable mother Violet must have been to Robert and Rosamund. And while she was (clearly) no pushover of a grandmother to the Crawley girls, we did get to see a very different side of the motherhood (or granny) coin when Mary was in mourning. It was after yet another disastrous Downton dinner party when Mary retreated to her bedroom (and Matthew’s side of the bed). Violet followed for that heart to heart conversation. She had to remind Mary that she was her grandmother, not an employee, and what the difference was (love). Then Violet told her, “You must choose either death, or life.” Nailed it, as always.
You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide:
The mama drama on Grantchester is pre-natal, and all I’ll say about the finale of Granchester is, all those years when hunka hunka burnin’ Vicar luv, Sidney, dreamt of his heart’s desire, Amanda, FINALLY running towards him in slow motion, I’ll bet he never pictured her doing it while pregnant with another man’s child. Timing is everything.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: this is just an excuse to post another picture of Adrian Turner. Well, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but let’s table that discussion and just focus on poor mama Demelza. Despite all their betrayals (not to mention the risk), she selflessly nursed Francis and Elizabeth through the Putrid Throat, only to catch it herself and unknowingly bring it home to her own baby Julia. When Ross had to break the news to her, her reaction was feral and sweet and tore your heart out. That is Demelza.
Monkey in the Middle:
The two-season Upstairs Downstairs revival of a few years ago was a mother of a collection of mothers: Sir Hallam’s mother’s favorite child was a monkey, she left her own daughter with Downs; Pamela, secretly hidden away in a facility; Rachel the maid escaped Nazi Germany and tragically died of a Percy-induced asthma attack, leaving her own semi-secret daughter orphaned; and Aunt Blanche, who sort-of sidestepped into the role of matriarch after Lady Holland’s passing. She had no children of her own, but she did help organize the British Orphan Transport, saving Jewish children from certain death. Then there was Lady Agnes, who was a mother to her sociopathic sister, Lady Percy, who had the reputation for leaving no one in her path unscathed. You know, you get mixed up with a few Nazis, and commit treason like it’s a parlor game, and some just people just won’t let you forget it. But whatever. There was nothing Lady Agnes could do to straighten her out, and by the time Percy betrayed her too, by manipulating the situation and having an affair with Sir Hallam, she gave up anyway. Out of friends, luck, options and time, Percy dived over the railing to the floor below, leaving a puddle on the parlor floor and Agnes feeling guilty. It was left to Aunt Blanche to step into the motherly role, throw the sash up and tell Agnes it was time to, “open the window and let her wretched soul out.” And it was.
You Know You Make Me Wanna Shout:
This is exactly how the relationship between Edith and Marigold could play out if they’re not careful (except Edith and Marigold would be standing in a field of heather, or the dining room at Downton, instead of an alley in the East End of London). EastEnders isn’t on THIRTEEN; it’s on WLIW21 (Wednesday nights at 10PM), and it is a very different show, but they have some things in common. Kat and Zoe are/were the EastEnders version of Edith and Marigold, (or Branson’s cousin and her daughter): Kat got pregnant at fourteen, causing the family to invent a ruse whereby her baby, Zoe, was brought up as her sister. Kat had no choice but to keep the family secret and pretend that her baby was actually her Mum’s baby. It turned out that the weight of this secret destroyed much of Kat’s life and ripples through their lives still, today, years after that secret could be kept no more and exploded. What would dramas be without secrets? They always come out in the end. If they haven’t come out yet, it’s not the end. We can imagine that at some point in the future, if Edith doesn’t tell Marigold early on, they may end up having a showdown like this, a scene that became one of the most iconic moments in British telly history: [link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgUf9hlTnnU ] So iconic that, I dare say, if you were in London and walked up to any random stranger on the street and yelled at them, “You ain’t my muvver!” They would yell back at you, “YES, I AM!” In fact, next time you’re in London, try it!
The Last Dance:
Even though it’s a day for mothers, we can’t let it pass without acknowledging at least one character who isn’t a mother at all, only because she spent the best years of her life waiting around for a no-good married man who said he couldn’t leave his ‘invalid wife.’ (Oh, that old excuse!) Yes, Mr. Selfridge’s Miss Mardle waited forever and a day for Vincent van Gogh look-alike Mr. Grove, and how did he repay her loyalty? As soon as said invalid wife finally died and he was free to do whatever, he up and ran off with a (much) younger woman who could give him children! Putz. Seriously, putz, putz, PUTZ! Miss Mardle is left with no kids and no man, but luckily with a nice inheritance (that makes old Grove say, “DOH!”), and a new life that she embraces. Take that Grovey! But she is the forgiving sort and so when she hears that he’s about to kick the bucket, she remembers her old bucket list and returns to spend his end days together with him. (Does she realize she’s going to inherit all those screaming brats?) Oy.
Happy Mother’s Day, and remember, “No wire hangers! Ever!” Oh, and call your mother.