Cheryl Gordon (Helen Slater) is the main villainess of the 2013 Lifetime film The Good Mother.
Cheryl had a neglectful mother as a child, which made her vow to always make sure her own children were loved. In adulthood, she became a nurse that specialized in children and it is implied this was the start of her twisted method of giving "love and attention" to children by intentionally making patients sick, losing her job when one of her patients died as a result of her actions. Cheryl's family consisted of her husband Scott and her two daughters Hillary and Melanie. She also became a second mother of sorts to Melanie's troubled friend Jillian, whose mother was a neglectful alcoholic.
The movie opened with Cheryl bailing Jillian out of jail after she was caught stealing food from a grocery store. After going to Jillian's house and finding the home in disarray, she offered to let Jillian stay at her house. There, we see that Cheryl had begun her twisted treatments on Melanie, poisoning Melanie with ricin and claiming she had a rare illness. Soon after Jillian's move-in, Melanie's condition worsened and she died in the hospital, much to Cheryl's dismay. At the funeral, Cheryl gave a big speech and made a scholarship in Melanie's memory, rewarding it to Jillian. After that, Cheryl began drugging her younger daughter Hillary, lying and telling Jillian that she could have inherited Melanie's "disease". Cheryl's first sign of villainy came when she snapped at Jillian for packing up Melanie's things, which she apologized for soon after.
At this point, Jillian began to uncover Cheryl's secrets, learning about the death of Cheryl's former patient and discovering syringes in a drawer in Melanie's bedroom. She later witnessed Cheryl dispose of the needles in a dumpster near her school and has her brother (who worked in a lab) test the substance within them. Cheryl attempted to have Hillary start drinking the same poisoned milkshakes she made for Melanie, but the ailing girl would only take a sip. When Hillary was eventually placed in the hospital, Cheryl altered her daughter's medical records before demanding Hillary be released, which the doctor allowed.
Having realized that Jillian was catching on to her crimes, the evil Cheryl planted drugs in her bag and calls the police, claiming she had been stealing them from her. As Jillian learned that the syringes she found contained ricin, child services came to the Gordon home and forced Cheryl to let them take Hillary back to the hospital, having been called by the doctor after the altered records were discovered. Jillian rushed to the hospital to save Hillary after informing Scott of his wife's twisted actions, finding Cheryl waiting with a syringe. She then went into a speech about her neglectful mother and how she hadn't wanted her children to feel invisible. She then attacked Jillian and growled that she would have been nothing without her and that she's the best mother Jillian ever had, but Jillian denounces Cheryl for her behavior and motive, rebuting that Cheryl never has been a good mother, nor will ever be, and is just an insane woman. When the police arrived and tried to force their way inside, Cheryl injected herself with the ricin in an attempt to kill herself and get away with her deeds of poisoning her children. It was later revealed that Cheryl's suicide attempt had failed; she had survived and had been convicted of her crimes, ultimately ending up institutionalized.
- Helen Slater previously portrayed Stella Andre from the 2006 film Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall.
- It seems possible that Cheryl suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a psychological disorder marked by attention-seeking behavior by a caregiver through those who are in their care.