On the face of it, Casey Anthony, charged with first degree murder, and Nadya Suleman, mother of octuplets plus six, don't seem to have much in common. One had trouble parenting one child and the other has an almost obsessive desire to have multiple children -- despite having no means to support them. They are both, in their own ways, examples of motherhood gone haywire, and people -- particularly women -- can't seem to get enough of their bizarre stories. "The public's fascination with aberrant behavior," says public relations expert Michael Levin, "makes us feel better about ourselves."
Does it take the worst possible examples of motherhood to give us confidence in our own parenting capabilities? A rep from the National Organization for Women says the enormous pressures of motherhood could be a factor in our interest: "Society and the media put the burden of parenting on the mother, whether you're talking about crime stories or who's getting marketed to in commercials."
Whatever the reason, following the plight of women in peril makes for a strange guilty pleasure. Could it be their common denominators that make Nadya and Casey's stories so compelling?
Irregular views of motherhood
Casey, it seems, never wanted to be a mother. Her mother Cindy reportedly wouldn't let Casey have an abortion or even put Caylee up for adoption. The result was tragic. Nadya Suleman says her desire to have many children stemmed from her being a lonely only child.
Dysfunctional relationships with their mothers
Nadya's mother has repeatedly voiced her dismay over the fact that her daughter insisted on having the octupets via IVF treatments when she already had six children at home. They've even been filmed arguing about Nadya's refusal to implement "selective reduction" of her implanted embryos. Cindy Anthony, Casey's mom, has been accused of treating Caylee as if she were her own daughter. Rumor has it the rift between Casey and Cindy began when Cindy was the first to hold her new granddaughter in the delivery room, not Casey.
Going it alone
With the extraordinary challenge single mothers face, Nadya Suleman has upped the ante to ridiculous proportions. With no man in her life, the "father" of her children is a sperm donor / former boyfriend. Casey also raised Caylee alone -- albeit with much family support. No one knows for sure who Caylee's father was -- the family has always maintained he was killed in a car accident.
Freeloading and lying
One sponges off her family and one off of the government. And both lie about how they supported themselves. Casey claimed to be employed at Universal Studios as an event coordinator -- to explain away her late nights out partying. Nadya told Ann Curry on "Today" that she is "not on welfare," although it was later revealed she receives both food stamps and state disability payments.
Obsessed with their looks
Nadya Suleman, even before giving birth to octopulets, had six mouths to feed. But somehow she still managed to spend money on what appears to be plastic surgery. Casey, when she was supposed to be searching for her missing daughter, entered herself in a "Hot Body Contest" at a local bar.
Can you explain what fascinates you about Casey Anthony and Nadya Suleman?
See Also:Complete Octuplets Coverage
Complete Casey Anthony Coverage