Bad Mom Part 2 (Homeland Rewatch S4.01-S4.04)

In my last post, I was very interested in the way that Carrie was being portrayed as a mother and would like to continue with and elaborate on this topic. The first two episodes of season four deal quite directly with Carrie’s new reality as a “mother” and the way in which she is choosing to deal with this life change. Unfortunately for Carrie, and perhaps even her daughter, Carrie continues both be pressured into and  pushing against the role of motherhood. In fact, the first two episodes of this season appear to be demonstrating the negative affects of pressuring a woman into a mothering role that she was not particularly keen to take in the first place.

Last season, Carrie was pressured by her sister, father, and even Peter Quinn to take on the mothering role. Her father and sister were quite forceful, with her father even expressing interest in taking the child if Carrie did not want it. Quinn was less forceful, but ensured Carrie that he regretted walking away from his own child, implying that he strongly recommened that Carrie move forward with taking on a parenting role. baby frannie - homelandThese strong external opinions regarding Carrie’s choice are problematic in that they reinforce an idea that women are practically mandated to become mothers and that it is virtually inconceivable for a woman to either abandon or choose to distance herself from her own child. However, Carrie’s journey in the beginning episodes of season four appear to demonstrate that this “mommy mandate” that is pushed upon women can have some very real consequences when women do not wish to comply.

This season we find that Carrie has been doing whatever is in her power to avoid taking on this new role. She has manipulated her way into serving overseas stations that are considered dangerous enough to warrant bans on bringing dependents and has officially pushed the parenting responsibilities onto her family. To be fair, Carrie’s family did bring a lot of this on themselves by nudging Carrie in the direction of keeping a child that she was unsure about keeping in the first place. Her sister and father also offered to take the child if Carrie did not want it. However, we see in these episodes that her family (i.e. her sister) is not happy with the degree to which Carrie has avoided responsibility for her daughter and even piles on guilt when it is clear that Carrie is largely uninterested in mothering. It seems clear that the talk of her family helping her out was more a move to keep the baby in the family instead of Carrie exploring other options (e.g. adoption) and practically forcing Carrie to maintain some tie to her child.

This pressure that Carrie feels from her family to keep the child and subsequently play a role in the child’s life seems incredibly fraught with problems. Carrie is shown in earlier seasons to be fairly close to her family and to rely on them pretty heavily to begin with. Carrie at table - homelandI would imagine that the pressure that Carrie received from her family to keep Frannie placed her in a precarious position with her only support system outside of the CIA. By having Frannie she risks her career prospects (at least to a degree) but by not having her, she risks a strained relationship with her family. Unfortunately the strained familial relationship still exists because, even though she had her child, her family does not feel like she is invested enough as a mother. Basically, Carrie is in a no-win situation. I can imagine that many women face similar challenges when wishing to opt-out of motherhood.

Nevertheless, in episode two of the season, the audience gets a glimpse of just how unprepared for and unwilling Carrie is to take on the role of mother. She practically refuses to hold her child, manipulates Lockhart into placing her back into a dangerous station, and she even has a moment in which she contemplates killing her child. carrie franny bath - homelandThankfully she does not go through with the ladder, but the pressure of being forced into this role and also the demands of her job appear to be taking an incredible toll on our protagonist. She is not sleeping well, wearing a guard to avoid teeth grinding, and appears to be emotionally turned off.  I think it is valid to wonder if Carrie would be in a better state if she had dropped the title of “mother”” and her only title was “Drone Queen.”

In many ways Carrie’s experience with mothering in these early episodes simultaneously highlights the enormous pressure that women face to become mothers and also the ramifications that can come to women that feel pressured to take on this role. I have argued before that Carrie cannot really have it all and this new role as “mother” seems to continue proving that to be true.

8 thoughts on “Bad Mom Part 2 (Homeland Rewatch S4.01-S4.04)

  1. I absolutely agree that not all women want to be or can be a mother. After all being a mom is a choice not a requirement. Thankfully society is starting to come around and not make women feel ostracized when they do not have a child. However I am very unhappy with Carrie. I see her as completely selfish. Not just by placing the burden of raising another child onto her sister, and to a lesser extent her father, but to Frannie herself. What really pushed me into this thinking was how she manipulated Lockhart into giving her the station chief position in such a dangerous location. The bathtub scene was awful too. Yes her family pressured her into keeping Frannie, but adoption is still a possibility at this point. Carrie should put her foot down and tell her sister and father that she is just not cut out to be a mom and Frannie deserves to be raised by people who can parent her. I get all worked up about Carrie’s parenting skills and I have to remember this is a fictional TV show!


  2. One thing I haven’t seen explored yet is examining Carrie’s reactions to Franny in these episodes through the lens of postpartum depression. On top of that, Carrie obviously struggles with bi-polar disorder, which drastically alters her moods. And on top of that, she is clearly having issues with PTSD and having trouble coping with the amount of death she has seen and the amount of killing that she currently does. So, her high level stress and “selfish” behavior may stem from severe anxiety, depression, and probably some very real medical conditions. What I’m saying here is…are we to cut Carrie some slack? I don’t really want to say “yes” to that question, but I guess there could be an argument to be made here, and I think you start pointing in that direction when you talk about her father and sister guilting her into having AND keeping the child.


    1. I think that on some level, Carrie’s behavior could be linked to postpartum depression or her bi-polar (or, for that matter, PTSD and her work– as you mentioned.) But it doesn’t feel like the writer’s are fully committing to that idea and following through with it. I think Claire Dane’s has done a good job at walking the line with making Carrie a likable enough (albeit, difficult,) character. But the justification for her behavior in this season just doesn’t seem to be there.
      I think the fact is that Carrie just has little or no interest in being a mother. So I think (Marilyn,) that you’re getting at an interesting idea here. But even with that reading of it– it’s still just not sitting well with me. I don’t know..


  3. Interesting perspective. I thought part of Carrie’s depression would have been significantly worse with in regards to postpartum depression. This could explain why she is consumed with work which seems to be her go to in times of stress or depression. I am also surprised by those who pressured her into having the child are hot pitching in and Maggie who told Carrie to have it is now complaining that the child is effecting her relationship with her husband. What did she think was going to happen if the child didn’t “ground” Carrie? There might be a political message embedded her as well about working mothers and their careers, but that might be a little much.


  4. I think you make the case very well that this is about something other than “madness.” I might add that a lot of this is about the particular kind of work Carrie does. If you are directing drone strikes in Kabul, you can’t exactly drop your kid off at a day care facility. A couple of our blogs have said that Carrie manipulates Lockhart to send her to Pakistan so she can get away from her responsibility to Frannie, but isn’t it also possible that she takes her career very seriously and feels duty-bound to rectify the factors that led to Sandy’s murder? She can’t do it from D.C. I also want to interject that the same tensions would apply to a father–as in some ways was demonstrated by Brody’s alienation from his family. Finally, the fantasy about infanticide isn’t as abnormal as some might think. We often think about things that we would never do. If I fault Carrie for anything, it’s that she fails to convince Maggie that her job at the CIA is keeping us all safe from calamity and she’s the only one who can do it. It may not take a village to raise Frannie, but it would be nice to get her sister and father on board without all the guilt–Quinn too!


  5. I guess for me, Carrie seems to be pretty consistent in following her own path and not listening to other people for direction. Even though all of these characters want her to take on the mother role, the one character who could probably convince her, Saul, hasn’t talked with her much about it. I get this feeling that is anybody could reach her on the intellectual level she needs it would be Saul. HOWEVER, his nature as a childless (?) man would complicate any advice he gave as well. Ugh, who knows, just don’t make me watch another bath…


  6. I wrote about Carrie to this week. While I do think that she has been put between a rock and a hard place when it came to becoming a mother, I don’t think it necessarily excuses her behavior. I think that the responsible choice for her would have been not to become a mother and her family would have been responsible to not push her so forcefully. At this point, though, instead of totally abandoning her responsibilities as a parent, she could come back the US and seek treatment for post-partum depression, bi-polar, PTSD, etc. and attempt to own the decision she made.


  7. I definitely had a lot to say about Carrie’s mothering in the last few episodes . I still do not think it is fair of Carrie to treat her child this way. She knew for a while that she did not want to be a mother and let her family convince her to keep it. Had she gone with her first mind she would not be in this situation. Yet I also think it is highly unfair of everyone to expect her to be supermom. They all saw how she approached her pregnancy they all knew that it was possible that this was a really bad idea and yet they convinced her to do it anyway believing like most subtle misogynist that motherhood would make Carrie a better person. This idea that all a woman needs in her life is a child is highly unfair and no one seems to account for the fact that Carrie is still bipolar it hasn’t gone away. Her sister and father know this better than anyone and yet they thought the child was a miracle cure. Not proud of Carrie but can’t blame her completely either.


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