16 Movies That Shed a Bad Light on Working Moms (PHOTOS)

Rebecca Deczynski | Nov 25, 2015 Movies

Work-life balance is not an easy thing to achieve, especially when you're a hardworking mother. We admire moms who have careers in addition to raising families, but Hollywood has not always turned the kindest eye to working moms.

These 16 movies depicted working mothers in a pretty harsh light -- although thankfully, in some cases, the story lines wrapped on a positive note. 


Image via Columbia Pictures

  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006)


    Image via 20th Century Fox

    Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep, is busy running a major fashion magazine—so her interaction with her twins is minimal. At the very least, she does ask Anne Hathaway's character to get them the new (unpublished) Harry Potter book. 

  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)


    Image via NBC Universal

    Shop owner mom Trish may not be shown as a bad mother, but when Steve Carrell's character Andy is the one who takes her teenage daughters to a family planning clinic instead of her, she isn't depicted as being the greatest.

  • What Maisie Knew (2013)


    As a rockstar on tour, Julianne Moore's character in this film is extremely neglectful of her daughter, forcing the child to rely on Alexander Skarsgard's boyfriend/nanny character instead.

  • I Don't Know How She Does It (2011)


    This Sarah Jessica Parker film seems to explore the question of if working women can "have it all" -- but in the process suggests that work-life balance for women is impossible.

    More from The Stir: 17 Favorite Movies That Celebrated Single Moms (PHOTOS)

  • The Fighter (2010)


    Image via Paramount

    Apparently even when mom is working as your manager, things may not turn out so well. Melissa Leo stars as the overbearing, uncompromising mother.

  • The Grifters (1990)


    Image via Lionsgate

    If you count Anjelica Huston's former swindling business to be a career, then her character is definitely one of the worst working moms in film: she gets her son and his girlfriend involved in a new con scheme.

  • Mary Poppins (1964)


    Chances are you may not even realize that there is a mother in this film, but the suffragette mom Mrs. Banks is played by Glynis Johns. While today we may admire her character for getting involved politically, we can't help but wonder if the need for a magical nanny slights Mrs. Banks's own ability to mother.

  • Freaky Friday (2003)


    Therapist mom Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) may have a hard time relating to her daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) -- but after switching bodies, they begin to see a little more eye-to-eye.

    More from The Stir: 20 Celebrities Who Were Once 007 Bond Girls (PHOTOS)

  • The Kids Are Alright (2010)


    Image via NBC Universal

    Obstetrician Nic (Annette Bening) always gets the short end of the stick as the breadwinner in this film, taking blame for her wife's affair and her kids' quest to find their biological father.

  • Stepmom (1998)


    Image via Columbia Pictures

    Susan Sarandon's stay-at-home mom character shows immense disapproval at her ex's career-driven new flame -- but the women come to see more eye-to-eye when Julia Roberts' character focuses more on family and less on work. Can't she have it all?

  • Imitation of Life (1959)


    Image via NBC Universal

    This single mother seeking Broadway fame as an actress (Lana Turner) eventually gets what she wants career-wise -- but not without neglecting her own daughter.

  • Postcards From the Edge (1990)


    Image via Columbia Pictures

    When a mother (Shirley MacLaine) and daughter (Meryl Streep) both have careers as Hollywood actresses, things get oddly competitive, as this film suggests that mothers and daughters can't both be working women.

    More from The Stir: 20 Supportive Actresses Who Stole the Movie Spotlight (PHOTOS)

  • The Intern (2015)


    Image via Warner Bros Pictures

    This recent film depicts Anne Hathaway as a successful, young CEO. However, the entire film shows the burden that her career has on her husband -- who quits his job to raise their daughter, making her success seem not so great at all.

  • Baby Boom (1987)


    Image via MGM

    This 1987 film shows a businesswoman (Diane Keaton) who unexpectedly inherits a child, and learns how to try to have it all. But in the end, the answer isn't balance -- it means having to sacrifice important career aspects in favor of motherhood.

  • Mr. Mom (1983)


    Image via MGM

    When a housewife (Teri Garr) and a working husband switch roles, the man realizes how hard it is being a stay-at-home dad. Conveniently, his wife finds that her maternal instincts get in the way of her being an executive, and sexual harassment pushes her out of the workforce.

  • How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)


    Image via 20th Century Fox

    As a single mother and successful stockbroker, Stella (Angela Bassett) is persuaded by a friend to go on a fancy vacation in Jamaica. However, an attractive islander who is 20 years younger than her convinces her that she really ought to work less.

    More from The Stir: 18 Black Actresses Who Broke Barriers & Won Major Awards (PHOTOS)


More Slideshows