Why Drew Barrymore’s ‘Momala’ Comment Was So Cringe

Drew Barrymore attends the 2023 TIME100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Drew Barrymore attends the 2023 TIME100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

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You know the drill: clock out of work, take a breather, and get into The Culture Catchall.

No time for the introduction, let’s just get into it. *rubs forehead* 

Now, don’t get me wrong: I absolutely adore Drew Barrymore, and she’s one of the few individuals in Hollywood who truly captivates me. Whether it’s her infectious energy on-screen or her genuine personality off-camera, there’s something undeniably magnetic about her. However, she received a small bombastic side eye from me after a recent episode of her talk show, “The Drew Barrymore Show,” where she interviewed Vice President Kamala Harris. (Of course, Harris showed off her fresh blowout and all.)

Barrymore made history with her first all-female audience during Harris’ appearance, but the moment was quickly overshadowed by a comment during their conversation. While discussing Harris and her family dynamic, Barrymore jokingly calls our VP “Momala,” which in that context seemed appropriate. 

Barrymore then proceeds to discuss how our country needs a “mom” and a “hug,” to which she insists Harris should take on the role as America’s mother and be its “protector.” That is where our girl shook the table on social media. Even Harris’ face looked like she was cringing. 

Black women have long been burdened by the stereotype of the “Mammy” figure, perceived as the eternal caregiver and problem-solver. While Barrymore is someone I deeply admire, it’s essential for her and her team to grasp the importance of not perpetuating harmful stereotypes. They need to critically assess how their actions and messaging might unintentionally reinforce these damaging narratives. 

Social media didn’t like it, either.

This isn’t the first super-awkward moment on Barrymore’s show. She had another slightly cringey moment when Oprah appeared on her show last year, as she seemingly caressed Oprah’s hands during their conversation. (Oprah shut down the accusations that she wasn’t fond of the interaction and said she took it as “comforting.”) Also, off screen, Barrymore was embroiled in controversy when she announced that her talk show would return amid the writers strike in 2023. Ultimately, she ended up pausing production on the premiere after a big backlash.

Barrymore had a golden chance to highlight Harris’ impressive achievements and impactful contributions, perhaps even delving into her stance on various policies. Heck, I would’ve settled for Barrymore just admiring how flawlessly Harris always styles her hair!

Let’s hope Barrymore takes this as a learning moment because, while her comment might not have been intended as such, it did come off as a tad cringey and potentially harmful.

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