The Most Narcissistic Parents on TV

Self love is crucial to success.  When one believes their existence is superior to others' and they hold no regard for the people around them, they run the risk of being narcissists and toxic to others.  People interact with these attention mongers daily.  And ironically, they also watch them on their television screens.  Take a peek at television's most narcissistic parents ever to embarrass America.

Bonnie Plunkett, Mom

Having her own rippled and damaged childhood due to abandonment, Bonnie Plunkett (Allison Janney) is the definition of narcissist.  Self-serving, grandiose and no regard for her action toward others, Bonnie's alcoholism is her catalyst to breaking the cycle and finally learning there are others in the room.  Her own epiphany came about newly sober in 2015 when her birth mother Shirley Stabler (Ellen Burstyn) came back into her life and admitted she abandoned her as man in her life didn't want children around.  Since this harrowing blow, she has devoted her energies to being the mother her daughter Christy (Anna Faris) never had to break the cycle.  Likely as well as Christy continues to vengefully needle her by sharing stories of her own shaky childhood at the hands of Bonnie.

Part of what makes Bonnie Plunkett compelling is she gained self awareness in later seasons as she sought therapy for undiagnosed ADD.  Her comical sessions with therapist Trevor (The Office's Rainn Wilson) finally helped her grasp she's a narcissist, though she plays down as "she was living in the moment."  Bonnie is an example of narcissists can be a part of people's lives (and enjoyable on our television screen) as she isn't seeking power over others' existence.  She just needs the occasional reminder others are in the room, and constantly needs to have her ass handed to her on a platter for reinforcement from those around her suffocated by her grandiose existence.  For more background on this series, click HERE to get caught up and enjoy another network jewel.

Kathryn, American Housewife

Like the prior mention, American Housewife's Kathryn (Wendy Malick) is a single mother who raised a daughter damaged by her narcissism.  She even believed her existence grand enough to name her daugher Katie (Katy Mixon) after her despite viewing her as inferior.  Unlike Bonnie Plunkett, Kathryn's a law abiding, gainfully employed stewardess.  The problem lies in the fact that Kathryn believes she is entertaining the room/plane in any setting.  So much so she's willing to run over her resentful grandchildren to gain the spotlight at any moment.  When others share an interesting story, Kathryn runs them over mid-sentence to hijack the conversation and share her own "interesting" experience on the topic.  And like Bonnie Plunkett, she is met with the wrath of a resentful daughter sharing a suffocated existence.  Thankfully, Kathryn only pops in occasionally to upstage a holiday with some tragic/grandiose development and only appears in sparing doses.  Much like people need to do around these inconsiderate and invasive presences.

Dr. Martin Whitly, Prodigal Son

Perhaps the darkest and most maniacal mentions, Dr. Martin Whitley (Michael Sheen) represents the darkest traits of narcissism.  A 23-time serial killer known as the surgeon, he is locked away safely never to butcher again.  Martin craves control and sees himself entitled to the spotlight either saving lives as a doctor or taking them away as a headline ripping killer.  His cat and mouse control game continues behind bars as he manipulates his children: emotionally damaged criminologist Malcolm (Tom Payne) and eager reporter Ainsley (Halston Sage).  He could care less his interactions with Malcolm and Ainsley are opening dark floodgates; he desires giving just enough info to him to keep them coming back for his "show."  Complicating matters is a foreshadowed explanation that ex-wife Jessica (Bellamy Young) enabled creating the monster in need for his praise.  Martin showcases a successful narcissist, having become the most sought after profession as a physician as well as infamous serial killer.  Pray this intriguing show's writing doesn't get lazy in a Nielsen grab and set Martin loose to be "a star" again.

Grace Hanson, Grace and Frankie

Perhaps one of the most lighthearted and successful on this list, Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) is tough to pin as a narcissist.  A law-abiding, successful businesswoman four times over, she is just cold.  Where her shades of narcissism come into play is her cold, business-like relationship with her daughters Brianna (June Diane Raphael) and Mallory (Brooklyn Decker).  Mother's Day for her is everyone leaves her alone vs. sharing the joy.  And while her 40-year marriage stood as a pillar in view to society, a divide formed as she failed to give her partner Robert (Martin Sheen) the warmth and support he needed.  Thus creating the premise as he fell in love with his best friend/legal partner Sol (Sam Waterston), ultimately divorcing her.  Grace is self-aware of her icy nature, and even seems to acknowledge her faults and accept the consequences.  She is indeed lovable, but teeters the line between selfish and narcissistic.  Any grandmother who proclaims "there's so many of them" about her grandchildren shows a cold, pragmatic shrew with limited warmth.

Xander, Better Things

Does anyone notice Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) displays so many strong traits between feminism and masculinity?  She was forced to do so as her self-involved ex-husband Xander (Michael Glave) left her too much to do so he could pursue his own selfish interests.  Though the two hold little tension, Sam's greatest thorn is his lack of consideration for their three daughters.  So much so he's willing to cancel at the last minute the day one graduates.  Xander somehow believes his existence is important enough for those around him to feel impacted.  Sam's greatest weapon to shut down his narcissistic show is indifference.  After a melodramatic discussion about being unavailable for the girls that summer, she takes a fire extinguisher to the dramatic fire and states "They're getting busy.  They won't notice."  Nicely played, and a reminder to all narcissist feed off fire, and having a bucket of water to melt them is the best way to avoid getting burned.

Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

There are several ways to classify Homer Simpson: oaf, slob, imbecile.  The underlying factor to his character (at least in earlier seasons when character development was valued) is selfish narcissism.  Homer doesn't wish ill will on others.  In fact, he is unconcerned they even exist.  Where narcissism runs dangerous is when Homer engages in activities which harm others' existence, to which he has no regard for the consequences of his action.  Be grateful the remainder of the cast calls him out and drills into his thick skull other people matter too.

Kevin Pearson, This is Us

Audiences only experienced one episode depicting Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) as a parent in a flash forward.  Those five minutes foreshadow enough of a narcissist's impact on neglectful and disengaged parenting.  The remainder of the series showcases enough classic traits of a narcissist: self-serving, grandiose, unconcerned with others' existence, pushing in front of others for attention, entitlement, and a need to be "the star."  An established actor, Kevin fought continually for attention being in a set of triplets with sister Kate (Chrissy Metz) and adopted black brother Randall (Sterling K. Brown).  He married his childhood sweetheart young, tanking the relationship twice due to infidelity and addiction.  And after receiving the coup de grace status symbol as a television star, napalmed it in a live tantrum to demonstrate his feelings.  Bouts of alcoholism also trouble this textbook narcissist, as when life is calm and boring, he falls off the wagon to be central again.  He may not be felonious, but indeed toxic for those around him due to his entitled behavior.  Let's pray future flash forward episodes show changes and regard for becoming a solid parent.

Ben Goldberg, The Goldbergs

Ever wonder why Murray Goldberg (Jeff Garlin) is such an insufferable grouch?  Meet his unphased father Ben (Paul Sorvino, Judd Hirsch).  Both men drop their pants and walk around the house, and that is where the similarities stop.  Ben could care less if his actions affected his children, even taking a frightened Murray to see Psycho (though the timetable is questionable, as Murray's in his 50's in the 1980's, and Psycho came out in 1960).  The defining difference between the two comes when Ben's a no-show to hang out with his grandson Adam (Sean Giambrone).  A confrontation between Murray and Ben leads Murray to declare he will never intentionally disappoint his children as Ben did, demonstrating this wilted branch in the family tree was chopped off as Murray refused to be a father with no regard for his children.

Earl Johnson, Black-ish

Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) is such a spastic, neurotic mess?  Take a glimpse at flashbacks of his childhood at the hands of his disengaged father and viewers can fill in the blanks.  Like the prior mention, Earl "Pops" Johnson (Laurence Fishburne) belittled his son and lacked support, feeling his existence inferior to his own greatness.  Ex-wife Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) thankfully ran interference as the tough as nails matriarch calling out Earl's selfish ways so her child had some normality to his upbringing.  Having suffered Earl continually stepping out on her, she threw in the towel and showed him he has consequences for his entitled and haughty behavior.  Earl falls into a mild criminal element like some mentioned in this passage, feeling entitled to break into someone's car and steal Disneyland passes to entertain his children (followed by a smack over the head when he learns it was Ruby's window he smashed).  Earl thankfully treats his grandchildren with more regard, likely because most kids see grandparents as something special (and feeding his need for praise).

Jill Kendall, Mom

Like Kevin on This is Us, the audience only witnessed a spell of Jill's maternal side in Seasons 4 and 5 as she desired to become a mother to fill a void in her life.  Rather than becoming a parent so she could benefit a child's existence, she did so only because she wanted something to bring excitement to her life.  Spending ridiculous time shopping and envisioning grandiose events to dress up for, she was stricken with a life changing miscarriage.  After some grounding, she became a foster mother to a teenage daughter and was forced for the first time in her vapid existence to bend to others' needs.  While Jill knocked it out of the park and attempted to be concerned for others, the foster arc ended fast with no mentions in the future.  And perhaps for the best, as she remains a self centered narcissist well into the 7th season.

Luscious Lyon, Empire

A former drug dealer, Luscious Lyon (Terrence Howard) attempted to turn it around, using his business skills to launch a successful record label.  Like most typecast narcissists, Luscious has a knack for business and lack of love for his unimpressed family.  So much so he allowed his devoted wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) to take the fall for a drug deal gone wrong.  Like most narcissists, Luscious believes his sons are his audience, paying most attention to youngest Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), his spitting image and fame obsessed youngest.  He is frequently estranged from middle gay son Jamal (Jussie Smollett) who refuses to praise his father and bucks at his "greatness."  To further cement the portrait of a narcissist parent damaging a family, eldest son Andre Lyon (Trai Byers) removed himself from the family as he battles bipolarism.  Parenting at it's finest, and perhaps someone to call when in need of babysitting grandchildren.

Captain Roger Peralta, Brooklyn 99

Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) often disrupts the room with jarring humor, always seeming to be craving attention.  While not a narcissist and just desiring to lighten the atmosphere, his roots stem from one.  Commercial airline Captain Roger Peralta (Bradley Whitford) abandoned him as a boy after multiple infidelities leading to several wives and children.  Though a scene stealing gag seen in sparing doses, Roger's presence enriched Jake's backstory and explained his constant need to jolt the room with humor.  Having an absentee father, Jake resorted to humoring and entertaining to gain his father's attention.  Most children of narcissists often develop sharper senses of humor as a means to fight to keep a disengaged parent present.  

Fiona Goode/Constance Langdon/Elsa Mars, AHS

Anthology series American Horror Story crackled with Jessica Lange headlining the first 4 seasons.  Three of her four characters were mothers, all of self-serving nature to various degrees.  Season 1's Murder House showcased her as Constance Langdon, a mother desperate in nature to keep close to her children in the house.  The murderous matriarch loved her children, but often neglected needs and despised if they were emerging and taking her place.  This competitive, narcissistic quality is offset by her devotion, choosing to remain in a plagued home to look after her charge.

Step forward to Season 3's Coven as Fiona Goode, and Lange portrayed a ruthless, maniacal witch feeling entitled to power and prestige.  So much so she belittled earnest daughter Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) as inferior, even manipulating an attack with an acid spewing assault to her face to frame someone in her way.  Fiona could care less about upholding the Coven's integrity or murdering its occupants, as she feels entitled to be the star as a Supreme.  Thankfully, few enable her as they recognize her treacherous and callous nature.  Though she doesn't get her comeuppance, her lonely, exiled ending provided just desserts as she was forgotten with no attention.  The worst fate to befall a narcissist, as they crave attention to the end even after death.

Just because one isn't felonious like the prior two mentions doesn't mean their toxic existence doesn't affect others.  Reverting to 1952, Season 4's Freakshow placed Lange as pre-WWII German exile Elsa Mars, a performer who refused to allow anyone else be the headliner in her newly established freak show.  Though not a mother by DNA, Elsa took in several of society's outcasts to build her grandiose vision.  Elsa loved and nurtured, under the condition her "family" did not upstage her.  Kathy Bates's Ethel Darling called her out in a season finale epiphany "You were a shitty friend and a lousy cook."  Perhaps if alive today, she'd fit right into an ensemble of The Real Housewives of [Wherever].

Donald Trump

Let's keep politics out of the discussion as there's plenty to talk about with the POTUS prior to term.  A successful business mogul of diverse careers, Donald Trump seems to have done it all.  He conquered Wall Street, established a successful hotel and even relished in the limelight on NBC's The Apprentice.  Where he succeeds in business endeavors, he failed in family.  Thrice married with five children, he wooed and married three beautiful women -- Czech athlete Ivana Zelnichova, actress Marla Maples and Slovakian model Melania Knauss.  Multiple infidelities, messy divorces, neglect and other issues played out in the media limelight, suggesting perhaps Trump does not value the family unit as much as he should and holds more value in power.

Any of the Kardashians?

The ensemble of Keeping Up With the Kardashians is often associated with narcissism as they crave the limelight.  However, there is a distinct difference.  The group generalizes as vain and vapid, desiring to be adored.  They know they have power and wealth, and all seem to care less.  They just want to exist in front of all.  The material displayed on their successful reality TV franchise shows they hold little ill will toward others, and would feel gravely if their actions affected others.  They just want to be on display, and graciously are willing to share the limelight.  Perhaps this entry will not fill that need though as another pictorial was selected for this entry.  They hold millions of other photos plastered all over the net.

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »