Framing the Single Mother: Gender, Politics and Family Values in Contemporary Popular Culture

At the 2001 Academy Awards, 4 out of the 5 actresses nominated for best actress played the role of a single mother - Juliette Binoche for Chocolat, Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich, Laura Linney for You Can Count on Me and Ellen Burstyn for Requiem for A Dream. And in 2010, 3 films featuring fatherless families, The Switch, The Back Up Plan and The Kids Are Alright were released consecutively - prompting declarations that it was the year of the single mother. How did the single mother figure become discursively symbolic of a policy of inclusivity and diversity of behalf of mainstream popular cinema? Are these recent configurations of motherhood reflecting a more inclusive attitude towards lone motherhood in general or do these new representational strategies veil more familiar conservative accounts?