Does Queenie Forgive Her Mother in the End?

In exploring a time of chaotic down-spiral in its titular character’s life, ‘Queenie’ dissects the nuances of a central conflicted mother-daughter relationship that leaves a life-long influence over the latter. In her mid-twenties, Queenie Jenkins finds herself walking an unpredictable path as the end of a three-year-long relationship forces her to bring drastic changes into her life. During this time of domestic upheaval, ripe with unwise dating choices and complicated workplace dynamics, Queenie finds some semblance of stability in her family. However, while her grandparents, Aunt Maggie, and even young cousin, Diana, remain reliable pillars by her side, Queenie’s mother, Sylvie, presents a different picture.

The narrative establishes early on that Sylvie and Queenie’s distraught past has caused a wedge between them. As such, as the viewers witness Sylvie’s constant attempts to reconcile with her daughter, they must be compelled to wonder whether or not Queenie finds a way to move on from the past and allow her mother to enter her life again. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Queenie’s Traumatic Childhood With Sylvie

From the get-go, the show introduces the idea of Queenie’s complicated relationship with her mother. Although the woman is very close with her aunt and grandparents, she categorically avoids her mother, dodging her phone calls and texts. Likewise, while her family urges Queenie to talk to her mother and sort out their differences, there’s an underlying understanding of her pain that prevents anyone from pushing the matter. Therefore, the fact remains that whatever happened between Queenie and Sylvie must been of significant magnitude. The same remains evident in the days following Queenie’s introduction to her quarter-life crisis, wherein she often makes vague references to her mother to explain any given situation.

Naturally, the truth only emerges when Queenie, the story’s narrator, is willing to confront the issue. The woman may make off-hand comments about her relationship with her mother throughout the show. Yet, she only vocalizes the full force of Sylvie’s influence over her life once her problems have crested to a high that compels her to seek therapy. In her weekly sessions, Queenie carves out a safe space where she can broach the subject without fearing the consequences of her reaction.

Queenie was born to Sylvie, while the latter was a young single mother. In her youth, Sylvie entangled herself in a relationship with a married man, getting manipulated by his words of an unhappy, forced marriage and empty promises of loyalty. Consequently, once she fell pregnant from that relationship, she suddenly found herself all alone without the support of her boyfriend. Even though Sylvie retained the complete love and support of her own family— her parents and her older sister, Maggie— the instance set the tone for the woman’s streak for unhealthy romantic endeavors.

For the most part, Queenie had a happy childhood— surrounded by people who loved her— for the first eleven years of her life. However, on her eleventh birthday, Sylvie went out with a man, Roy, who ended up ruining the two Jenkins women’s lives. Even though Sylvie and Queenie moved in with Roy as the former’s relationship with the man progressed, he continued detesting his girlfriend’s daughter. Roy didn’t like Queenie and constantly tried to indebt her in his favor, claiming he was generous for allowing her a place in his house. However, he actually was vehemently abusive toward Sylvie, delivering her mental and physical blows.

Even so, Sylvie kept silent, bearing her pain alone without reaching out for anyone’s help. Worse yet, she compelled her daughter to keep her secret for her, preventing Queenie from alerting her grandparents about the same. Eventually, Sylvie’s marriage with Roy reached such a dire point that the latter abandoned the pair. Nevertheless, Sylvie chose to chase after Roy and earn a spot in his good graces. In doing so, she left Queenie alone in an apartment for months to fend for herself. Although Sylvie visited her young teenage daughter to restock her food and resources, she banned her from seeking help from their extended family, pushing her into a place of isolation. The same likely stemmed from Sylvie’s unwillingness to have her family witness her vulnerability and pain. Nevertheless, it only resulted in Queenie developing severe abandonment issues as her mother consistently chose her abusive partner over her own daughter.

Queenie’s Path Toward Recovery and Forgiveness

Months into Sylvie’s abandonment of Queenie, Maggie learned about her sister’s actions and took her niece to live with them momentarily. Nevertheless, Queenie’s life remained unpredictable from there. Queenie grew emotionally distant, unable to open up even in her closest relationships. Furthermore, she adopted a skewered perception of love, believing it always comes with the caveat of abandonment. After being neglected by both her parents in different ways and getting dumped by her years-long boyfriend, Queenie begins to believe she is the problem.

Sylvie’s inability to acknowledge and reconcile with her past mistakes is partly the reason behind this. Therefore, Queenie has only ever felt blamed by her mother, which in turn leads her to cut the woman out of her life entirely. Nevertheless, the two continue running into each other due to their close relationships with the extended Jenkin family. Likewise, while Sylvie is mindful of her daughter’s boundaries, she perpetually attempts to fix her relationship with Queenie. Eventually, the weeks following Queenie’s 26th birthday marked a change in the duo’s dynamic.

On Queenie’s birthday, Sylvie gives her daughter a hefty cheque to help her move into an apartment of her own. Even though Queenie is initially vexed that her mother thinks she can buy her way into her life, Maggie helps her realize Sylvie got that money by battling Roy in a court case. Sylvie may have made some mistakes in her past, but now that she has found the strength to escape Roy’s abuse, she is trying to make amends. For the same reason, she stood up against her ex-husband in court to win the money for her daughter.

Additionally, Queenie’s own experiences and recent therapy sessions have made her realize the social dynamics at play that compelled her mother to suffer in silence and take her daughter down with her. Still, Sylvie’s actions have immeasurably hurt Queenie and will forever define the trajectory of her life—for good and bad. In light of this, Queenie agrees to have an honest conversation with Sylvie in the end. During this time, Sylvie shares her deep-seated regret and takes responsibility for her numerous mistakes.

While the conversation helps placate some of Queenie’s frustration and anger with Sylvie, it’s a far cry from bandaging her childhood trauma. Therefore, Queenie realizes that the damage Sylvie has done will linger for a long time, for which she deserves her daughter’s resentment. Yet, Queenie can’t help but acknowledge the humanity of her mother’s mistakes and acknowledge the courage it takes to mend broken bridges. As such, Queenie decides to let go of the active contempt she harbored for her mother and forgive her as a testament to her love for the woman. Even so, since she also loves herself, Queenie won’t just forget her past and will continue to work towards healing the wounds her mother inflicted on her.

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