We all know the feeling. You get to the school gate and the Rick & Morty lunchbox is still on the draining board. Or that last clean hoodie is somehow Jackson Pollocked in Weetabix. Or you forgot World Book Day/school trip/Sports Day/Xmas Performance and did you remember to RSVP to that Laser Quest party for this Sunday… Hang on a minute, wasn’t that for last Sunday?
Or. Or. Or.
Whatever the reason, the results are in – you are officially the World’s Worst Parent and everyone, EVERYONE who is staring at you right now as you frantically dig through the lower strata of your child’s book bag for a party invite is a better mum, dad or significant other than you.
The School Gate is here to tell you ‘NO!’. True, you’re having a bit of a mare right now and it probably wouldn’t hurt to put an extra wash on mid-week, but this is what ALL parents are like – you are simply plugging into to a national consciousness that says parents are human beings too, who make mistakes and need empathy and sympathy as they attempt to raise their offspring in a hard and unforgivi-
Oh sod it. Just watch these films and programmes and be safe in the knowledge that no matter how heinous this week’s parenting crime, you are in no way as bad as the parents on show here. KEVIN!!!!!!
To be honest, it feels like most things with Sharon ‘Catastrophe‘ Horgan attached to them should probably be in this list but this BBC show is the, well, motherload. Mad stressed Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin) is a single working mum who is, quite frankly, totally rubbish at everything and shouts at her own mum for not bailing her out. Remember when you do that? You do not do it like this. Funny stuff (if, sadly, a bit darker than that more lolz-centric pilot) as you’d expect with Graham Linehan also writing the script, but bad parents should really just concentrate on Diane Morgan as freewheeling bag of chaos Liz. If being bad means we’re more like her, count us in.
BAD MOMS (2016)
“Party like a mother” sayeth the poster and, hell yeah, do Amy (Mila ‘Family Guy’ Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and the totally excellent Carla (Kathryn ‘Her off Transparent’ Hahn) party. Bit of a mixed bag for really bad parenting examples (hey, taking your way uptight daughter to a spa sounds an ace idea to us) and things inevitably turn out a bit Apple Pie as our heroines finally bond with queen bitch Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), but if you want a film that (whisper it) says it really is okay not to volunteer for the PTA Quiz and do shots instead, this is the one. Oh, and don’t bother with sequel Bad Moms Christmas.
Played deliciously by Danny DeVito and his wife, Rhea Perlman, Matilda’s horrific parents Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are guaranteed to make you feel better as they do everything in their power to make their “smartass” daughter Matilda feel atrocious about her intellect, her kindness and her ‘everything that isn’t them’. Mercifully, Matilda (Mara Wilson) is whipsmart and constantly outwits both them and evil school principal Agatha Trunchbull. What can we parents learn? Just be glad your child doesn’t have latent telekinetic powers when you forget their swimming money for the third week in a row.
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (2007)
Ah, America’s favourite dysfunctional TV family where the dad strangles the son on his way to the pub via a garage to buy scratch cards – but we still love it after 29 seasons, right? Rubbish parents can love it more than ever by watching the movie – you will NEVER be as bad a dad as Homer in this 2007 movie adaptation. Pollutes Springfield Lake with pig poo, chased out of town and takes his family on the run? Check. Lets his son get drunk on scotch and skateboard naked through town? Check. Conveniently forgiven by everyone until his next screw-up, like a yellow infinity loop of heinous parenting cynically designed to make us feel better when we screw up? Check, set and match.
Okay, poss a bit contentious this one but stay with us. Buddy has two dads. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) who raised him after he was unwittingly transported to the North Pole by crawling into Santa’s sack, and Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a children’s book publisher and Buddy’s biological father who gave his son up for adoption. Papa Elf? Not so bad, although not explaining to his gigantic manchild the real reason behind his uselessness and demotion to toy testing isn’t great. Walter? Hmm. Nothing to do with Buddy’s adoption, here is a Grinchy dad for the ages – a man who exudes “Oh, FFS…” whenever his child comes near with another ridiculous exploit. Yes, there’s a bit of Walter Hobbs in all of us – but there’s not a lot of Walter Hobbs in all of us. Thank you Santa!
THE LETDOWN (2017)
This sleeper Netflix hit – think an Australian Motherland, with the amazing Alison Bell as Audrey – is a guide to what the joys of a newborn can do to all of us. The sleepless nights, the parents group from hell, the leaving your kid in the car, the joys of breast milk leakage or haemorrhoid pain… Close to home? You bet (the going for a sleep in the car scene especially…), but while things are going bad for Audrey in Sydney as she yearns for champagne (but ends up with breakfast beer), here is a reminder that no matter how insane your toddler is acting right now and tempted you are to go full Reggie Perrin (ask your dad), you might want to remember just how horrendous it was a few years ago. Exactly.
A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2017)
No, not the film but the shiny new Netflix series starring a wonderful Neil Patrick Harris as nefarious Count Olaf, the mysterious actor and distant relative of the orphaned Baudelaire children who attempts to claim the family fortune through any means necessary. Any means here equals poisoning, kidnapping, snakes, leeches, hypnotism, bad acting, some really brilliant songs and the attempted marriage of young Violet Baudelaire. Almost as good as the original Lemony Snicket books, Count Olaf is the best villain ever and a reminder that even though we may have to ‘borrow’ our children’s pocket money every once in a while (you’ve all done it…), we might want to give it back before we start to turn it truly evil. It’s happened, you know.
We all have an other side. A side that tuts at the kids, sighs at the kids and shares a hilarious GIF on Facebook celebrating said kids finally going back to school. However whilst our other side is fleeting because lord help us, we actually love our kids, we are nowhere near as bad as the Other Mother and Father who Coraline Jones finds when she visits a parallel universe through a secret door in this brilliant stop motion animation. It seems fun at first (cakes etc) but when the Other Mother invites Coraline to stay forever, under the condition that a pair of buttons will be sewn over her eyes… Hey, no matter how grumpy we are the morning after a BBQ that got out of hand, we’ve never done that, right? Right?
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001)
Not strictly a bad dad or rubbish mum but in Daily Mail-reading Uncle Vernon Durseley, we have a mighty example of the evil step-parent. What was slightly MILF-y Petunia thinking marrying this baboon? True, he may be a muggle struggling with young Potter’s blooming magicky powers and yes, poor ickle Dudley could end up being turned into a newt or something but locking poor Harry under the stairs? Bad Stepparenting 101 and something we hope (…) you would never stoop to. Mainly because the bit under the stairs is filled with scooters and coats.
HOME ALONE (1990/FOREVER)
And finally, the ur-text for any film or telly programme featuring bad parents who should probably be banged up for what they did. For five long years, the Home Alone films have seen Mr. and Mrs. McCallister leave Kevin at home while they ooh la la it off to Paris (Home Alone), jet to Florida while Kevin gets on a wrong plane to New York (Home Alone 2: Lost in New York), inspire a horrific threequel where chickenpox sees eight year old Alex Pruitt left alone at home (HE’S EIGHT!!!!) to fend off four internationally wanted hitmen (HOME ALONE 3: “There’s a new kid on the block”) and, well, two more films you’ve never seen with the McCallisters now divorcing (possibly due to the stress of seeing their son played by a different actor) and lots of other TV movie nonsense. The moral of this story? If you ever have a spare seat on the plane, possibly best to think about why before take off.
And there we have it! You are an AMAZING parent compared to this lot! You may run out of clean pants, forget their birthdays on forms and feed them questionable leftovers every once in a while, but you have never repeatedly attempted to marry them for their inheritance, flown to Paris and left them at home, attempted to sew buttons on their eyes or dealt with their wizard powers by locking them under the stairs. Have you?
Honorable mentions of decent films with really horrible parents that we rejected as they’re a bit dark TBH and this is the Beano (and it’s summer): The Shining, Precious, Star Wars, Carrie, Psycho, Natural Born Killers, Serial Mom. And Snow White.
That’s one heinous stepmom yo.
Want more? Read our list of top ten family films and top ten family TV shows you’ll actually want to watch, too.