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    14 Times Molly Shannon Proved She's The Greatest Living Mom Actor

    With killer back-to-back performances in The White Lotus and The Other Two Season 2, it's time we take stock.

    The wait is OVER. The Other Two is back with Season 2, and we are beyond excited to see the Dubek crew continue their rise to fame.

    Comedy Central / Via gph.is

    And, of course, leading the Dubek family is momager/author/newly minted talk show host Pat Dubek, played by the incomparable Molly Shannon.

    Comedy Central / Via gph.is

    Shannon was also on our screens recently as the wealthy, way-too-close-with-her-son mom on HBO's The White Lotus, which got us thinking: Molly Shannon is actually the BEST at playing moms.

    HBO Max / Via gph.is

    So here is a list of her best momtastic performances:

    1. The Other Two (2019–present) — Pat Dubek

    Molly Shannon sits smiling beside Case Walker
    Jon Pack/Comedy Central/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Pat Dubek may not have been looking for fame, but once fame found her, she latched on HARD. On this Comedy Central to HBO Max transplant, Shannon plays the mom of a YouTuber turned overnight viral pop star as he navigates his rise to fame. While working with ChaseDreams becomes her main focus (along with writing a book, moving into Justin Theroux’s apartment, and appearing on Watch What Happens Live), she is also the mom to two floundering 30-year-olds. Shannon’s performance is dialed into perfection as she’s somehow both incredibly caring and annoyingly oblivious at the same time. In Season 2, she’s launching a talk show where she mostly just talks about her kids' personal lives and sneak attacks them with on-air FaceTime calls. Also, she's really working hard on catchphrases. What does she always say? "READING IS GOOD!"

    Watch it on HBO Max.      

    2. The White Lotus (2021) — Kitty Patton

    Molly Shannon talks with Alexandra Daddario
    HBO Max

    Unlike Pat Dubek, who is new to fame and fortune, Shannon’s Kitty Patton on HBO’s hit cheeky dramedy is well acquainted with being rich and getting exactly what she wants. She micromanages her man-child son Shane with ease, interrupting his honeymoon to nothing but excitement from him (less so from his new bride). She’s wealthy. She’s connected. She knows how to slap down anyone with an underhand and a smile. Kitty is somehow both too sweet and incredibly terrifying at the same time, with Shannon walking the line perfectly. If someone’s going to get the Pineapple Suite, it’s gonna be her. 

    Watch it on HBO Max

    3. Promising Young Woman (2020) — Mrs. Fisher

    Carey Mulligan drinks a juice box as she talks with Molly Shannon on a front porch
    Merie Weismiller Wallace/Focus Features/Alamy

    Shannon can play a nice mom as well as anyone, but clearly where she shines is in portraying the complicated lives of mothers who are more than just kind, apple pie–baking huggers. In Emerald Fennell’s dark revenge thriller, Shannon shows up for one scene as the grieving mother of Nina Fisher, Cassie's best friend. When Cassie, in a heartbreaking scene, comes to Mrs. Fisher asking for her help in finding justice, she tells her to simply give up and move on. The scene is all the more devastating because of the weariness Shannon brings to the role.    

    Rent it on Amazon Prime

    4. Private Life (2018) — Cynthia

    Kayli Carter talks to Molly Shannon while she's cooking
    Jojo Whilden/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Private Life is an incredibly touching, funny, melancholic story about a couple (Paul Giamatti and “Agatha All Along” songstress Kathryn Hahn) trying desperately to have a child in New York City. The fact it didn’t get more love during awards season kills me. As the pair plod along through various medical procedures, they end up taking in their niece Sadie, who volunteers to be an egg donor for the couple. You know who thinks that’s all a bit weird? Sadie’s mom, played by, of course, Molly Shannon. Shannon’s role isn’t huge, but she handles the awkwardness of the situation perfectly and is just another reason to give this film a watch.     

    Watch it on Netflix

    5. The Little Hours (2017) — Mother Marea

    Molly Shannon stands dressed as a nun
    Gunpowder & Sky/Alamy

    She didn’t give birth to a child, but Mother Superior Marea is a mother in the eyes of the Lord. In this gut buster about a group of horny 14th century nuns, Shannon plays the convent’s leader trying to guide three younger nuns who have the hots for the new gardener. But it turns out she’s not too good at teaching chastity because she’s shagging a priest played by John C. Reilly. Shannon’s dry humor is perfect here as she and Reilly deliver incredible straight man performances to bolster those of Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza. Hail Molly, full of grace.     

    Watch it on Paramount+.

    6. Fun Mom Dinner (2017) — Jamie

    Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Katie Aselton, and Toni Collette stand outside a restaurant
    Robb Rosenfeld/Momentum/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Shannon is so good at playing a mom, she’s in a movie with “mom” in the title. It’s a Hangover-style, night-goes-wrong type of movie that follows four mothers (Shannon, Bridget Everett, Katie Aselton, and the flawless Toni Collette) on what they think is just a fun mom dinner, but which rapidly devolves into a night of drugs, drunken bar fights, and waaaaaaaaaaaay too much wine. Shannon plays the divorced mom of the group and injects a lot of spice into the film.     

    Watch it on Netflix

    7. Miles (2016) — Pam Walton

    Molly Shannon sits in a car with Tim Boardman
    Freestyle Releasing/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Molly Shannon is bringing all her best mom energy in this little indie sports drama. When she realizes that her deadbeat husband has squandered her son Miles’ college tuition money, Miles comes up with a plan to win a scholarship by playing volleyball. The only issue is that his high school only has a girls team. Shannon is the supportive mom you’ve always wanted as she helps Miles elbow his way onto the girls team and defends him against the small-minded people in town trying to get him removed. The film also has a fun Missi Pyle performance. She is a gem, and I need for her to have a "Jennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus" moment soon so the whole world can recognize how funny she is.     

    Rent it on Amazon Prime

    8. Other People (2016) — Joanne Mulcahey

    Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon laugh together in a bathroom
    Brian Burgoyne/Vertical Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

    If you love The Other Two, then I recommend Other People, as both were written by former SNL writer Chris Kelly. The semi-autobiographical film follows David (Jesse Plemons), a gay comedy writer who returns to Sacramento to help take care of his mother, Joanne (mom-in-chief Molly Shannon) when she’s diagnosed with cancer. In addition to being a great queer film, it’s also a wonderful mother-son film, as it delves into the relationship between David and his mom and how that relationship changes as Joanne’s health deteriorates. Moving, funny, and only 90 minutes? It’s a keeper.     

    Watch it on Netflix

    9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) — Denise Kushner

    Molly Shannon sits on a couch with a glass of water
    Anne Marie Fox/Fox Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    This hit YA novel turned movie focuses on two high school students who befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), the school’s dying girl. The movie is goofy, irreverent, and fun until it inevitably hits you like a ton of bricks. Molly Shannon plays Rachel’s mom who is going through the grieving process even as Rachel is still alive. This movie, which was shot on location in Pittsburgh, is also the MOST Pittsburgh movie, which is sort of fun in its own way.     

    Rent it on Amazon Prime

    10. The Middle (2009, 2013) — Janet

    Molly Shannon sits at the dinner table with Charlie McDermott, Atticus Shaffer, Eden Sher, Patricia Heaton, and Neil Flynn
    Michael Ansell / ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

    The mom de jure of ABC’s sitcom about a middle-class Indiana family is certainly Patricia Heaton’s Frankie Heck. But she is up against another mom titan whenever her sister Janet shows up. Shannon’s Janet has her act just a little bit more together than Frankie, so the sister rivalry is alive and well. Frankie is jealous of Janet for being a better mom. Janet is jealous of Frankie for her self-reliance. And the two end up in an air mattress smackdown as only two grown mothers can.

    Watch it on HBO Max

    11. Bad Teacher (2011) — Melody Tiara

    Molly Shannon sits at a dinner table with her family
    Sony Pictures Releasing

    Shannon is always good to swoop in and steal a scene. In this Cameron Diaz comedy about an alcoholic school teacher, Shannon plays the enthusiastically supportive mother of Garrett, one of Diaz’s students. Shannon invites Diaz over to the family Christmas dinner, sings Christmas carols loudly, and then watches  enraptured as her son performs a terrible poetry reading. If only every mom clapped so loud when her children wrote cringey love poems.     

    Watch it on Hulu

    12. Cracking Up (2004) — Lesley Shackleton

    Chris McDonald, Molly Shannon, Jake Sandvig, Bret Loehr, Caitlin Wachs, and Jason Schwartzman stand in the foyer of a mansion
    20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Before Mike White wrote the HBO hit The White Lotus and before he graced Season 37 of Survivor, he created this short-lived Fox sitcom about a psychiatrist working with a chaotic Beverly Hills family. Molly Shannon and Mike White clearly hit it off, as she would star in his film Year of the Dog and pop up in his other HBO show, Enlightened, before arriving at the White Lotus. The show was canceled before it could air all its episodes, but the first run with Shannon’s zany performance is on YouTube.

    13. Good Boy! (2003) — Mrs. Baker

    Molly Shannon sits on a bed as she talks with Liam Aiken
    MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

    In one of Shannon’s earliest mom performances, she plays the mother of Owen (Liam Aiken), a dog walker trying to show he’s responsible enough to get a dog of his own. When Shannon finally gives him a dog, however, he realizes he can speak to dogs and that canines are from outer space with a mission to take over the planet. The wacky kids comedy is a lot of fun, and Shannon does a nice job as Owen’s mom in her few scenes.     

    Watch it on Hulu

    14. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) — Betty Lou Who

    Jeremy Howard, Molly Shannon, TJ Thyne, Taylor Momsen, and Bill Irwin gather together for a Christmas photo
    Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

    And saving the best for last, we have Molly Shannon’s ICONIC turn in Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas as the mother of Cindy Lou Who, one of Christmas’s most famous fictional children. In the film, Shannon is obsessed with beating Martha (Christine Baranski) in Whoville’s house-lighting contest and seems to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas (and motherhood) in the process. Of course, Shannon is a delight in her weird Who facial prosthetics, and perhaps it was this performance that signaled to every Hollywood producer “you must hire her to play your moms.”     

    Rent it on Amazon Prime

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