The last few decades have delivered some knock-out performances of narcissist mothers on screen, both film and television. From absurdly funny, to chillingly selfish, to arrogantly grandiose, to diabolically scheming, to viciously cruel, to terrifyingly violent, or a toxic mix of all of the above, you’ve got to hand it to the brilliant actors who bring their tragic villains to larger-than-life life on screen.

Whether drawing from personal experience or the warped world of Hollywood, these awesome “biches” have the narcissist mother down cold. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

Narcissist Mothers on Screen

devil wears prada scene--narcissist mothers on screen

In The Devil Wears Prada, it’s almost too fun to watch Meryl Streep play a grandiose, diabolically self-serving fashion magazine editor who is too busy for her own family and loves to torment her personal assistants.

betty draper shooting pigeons--narcissist mothers on screen

Mad Men suburban mom Betty Draper, played by January Jones, is one cold cucumber who specializes in ignoring her kids. Here she takes aim at the neighbor’s pigeons.

Arrested Development‘s matriarch Lucille Bluth, played by TV veteran Jessica Walter, is hilarious as an alcoholic bitch extraordinaire who infantilizes her youngest son, shames her oldest son, and scapegoats her daughter.

portia de rossi on arrested development--narcissist mothers on screen

Arrested Development is full of comically narcissistic characters, and like mother like daughter, Lucille Bluth’s scapegoated daughter Lindsay Bluth Fünke, played by Portia de Rossi, is so self-involved she barely remembers she has her own daughter.

Nancy Marchand, The Sopranos malevolent matriarch Livia Soprano, is impeccable in her portrayal of the passive-aggressive murderous mother of Tony. As a woman in a man’s world, she is denied her fitting role as mob boss and resorts to diabolical hijinks from the sidelines. Marchand’s untimely death nearly derailed the series, which was originally written to focus on Tony’s relationship with his narcissist mother.

remembering mary tyler moore as the chilling narcissist mother in 'ordinary people'--narcissist mothers on screen

Spoiler Alert: In Ordinary People, the 1980 Best Picture Oscar winner, Mary Tyler Moore leaves behind her image as America’s sweetheart with her chilling portrayal of Beth Jarrett, the upper crusty mother who cannot forgive her scapegoated younger son for surviving a tragic boating accident in which her golden child older son died. (Read my full article about Ordinary People‘s spot-on portrait of a narcissistic family.)

angry mother in precious smoking a cigarette--narcissist mothers on screen

In Precious, based on the devastating novel Push by Sapphire, Mo’Nique plays teenaged Precious’s terrifyingly sadistic mother. Mo’Nique, who rightfully won an Academy Award for the role, as well as a standing ovation at the Oscars, managed to humanize her monster of a mother character with an almost pitiable view into her deranged rationale for the mental, physical, and sexual abuse she subjects her daughter to.

rachel getting married--narcissist mothers on screenAnne Hathaway in rachel getting married--narcissist mothers on screen

Spoiler Alert: In the 2008 Jonathan Demme film Rachel Getting Married, Anne Hathaway plays an emotionally unstable addict just out of rehab who makes everything about herself during her sister’s wedding weekend. But the real subterranean narcissist in the movie is the sisters’ mother, played deftly by Debra Winger.

Julie L. Hall’s articles on narcissism regularly appear in The Huffington Post and PsychCentral. She is the author of a forthcoming memoir about life, and a few near deaths, in a narcissistic family (read excerpts). 

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