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Television and the absent mother: why girls and young women struggle to find the maternal role

Feasey, R (2017) 'Television and the absent mother: why girls and young women struggle to find the maternal role.' In: Åström, B, ed. The absent mother in the cultural imagination: missing, presumed dead. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9783319490366

Abstract

Feminist media theorists have routinely commented on the ‘symbolic annihilation’ of women in the media since the term was first coined in the late 1970s, and while women continue to be condemned and trivialized in a diverse range of popular media texts, it is women as mothers who are most frequently omitted. This chapter analyses the diverse ways in which mothers are side-lined on the small screen, and consider the ways in which the ‘missing mother’ trope of urban fantasy, telefantasy and the American teen drama present girls and young women with the message that mothers are unavailable, unnecessary and unwanted in the life and life stages of the average teen. The chapter gives an overview of those gendered texts in which mothers are absent from the outset and those that use the missing and deceased mother as a later plot device, paying particular attention to the ways in which the absent mother has been acknowledged and accounted for in a range of ancillary materials including reviews, interviews and fan news. Media audiences ranging from feminist scholars to mainstream bloggers have drawn attention to the lack of mothers and the dearth of supportive maternal characters in youth programming, and even a cursory glance at recent shows such as Once Upon a Time (2011–), The 100 (2014–) and Resurrection (2014–) make it clear that the missing mother trope not only continues, but has flourished since the emergence of quality teen drama, albeit within a more spectacular, fantastical and apocalyptic setting.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
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Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 14:09
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2017 17:14
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