Nationwide

Saturday Night Live. Just in time for Mother’s Day, Betty White makes her long-awaited debut in the SNL host spot.

The 88-year-old White, “America’s oldest sweetheart,” will no doubt be plugging her upcoming sitcom, “Hot in Cleveland,” which premieres June 16 on the TV Land cable network. On SNL, White is joined by half a dozen female alums (most of them mothers themselves), including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Molly Shannon. 11:30 p.m./10:30 Central Time, NBC.

Golden Girls Marathon. Not to be outdone on the Betty front, cable network WE TV is hosting a Mother’s Day weekend marathon of “Golden Girls” episodes. Saturday’s shows focus on White’s character Rose, Sunday’s on mother-and-daughter relationships. Saturday, 6 p.m.–1 a.m. Eastern Time, Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., WE TV.

Chicago

The Good Negro. Playwright Tracey Scott Wilson delivers, in fictional guise, a complex nuanced look at the leaders of the Civil Rights movement—class prejudices, marital infidelities and all. Wilson herself sees a parallel between the leaders of that era and Barack Obama’s presidential election. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, she said, “Across the board, the whole issue of being the good Negro still applies in our culture, and I hope (the play) will prompt some type of discussion about that. I just really want people to understand what it took to get Obama here, and also to understand that those same type of struggles are continuing.” At The Goodman Theatre through June 6. (Photo collage at right: Paper Magazine.)

Houston

The Art Car Parade. Houston Mayor Annise Parker kicks off the 23rd annual parade of weird, wacky motorized vehicles, created by artists and amateurs alike. Don’t miss the Houston Grand Opera’s entry—a giant, open-mouthed head of Brunhilde. Sneak preview: 6-9 p.m. Friday evening at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney; 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Parade: Saturday, Sam Houston Park, Allen Parkway. Admission free. Shaded bleacher seats $25.

New York

American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity. You may have caught shots of Oprah, Jennifer Lopez, and dozens more celebs at the Metropolitan Museum’s gala bash this week. Now catch the show they were supposedly there to see. From late 19th-century Henry James-style heiresses to 1930s screen sirens, the Met’s Costume Institute presents a bevvy of classic American types, and the gowns, dresses, and outfits to go with them. The clothes are enough to make even a non-fashionista swoon, and the whimsical wigs are like visual giggles (At right: a 1915 cape from design firm Liberty of London. )

In the Suffragettes section, don’t miss the film clip of women workers swinging their hammers during World War I, beating Rosie the Riveter by almost two decades. Through August 15 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography; and Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940s to Now; and Lee Bontecou: All Freedom in Every Sense. If this were a science fiction movie, the tagline would be: MoMA Invaded By Women Artists! Opening today, Pictures by Women presents more than 200 works by female photographers—from Cindy Sherman to Yoko Ono—selected from the museum’s own collection. And you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy them—the show runs through March 21, 2011.

Lending moral support on the prints and drawings front, Mind and Matter gathers works by a dozen women abstractionists, a few well known (like Louis Bourgeois), others worth knowing better. Through August 16. The small but focused Lee Bontecou offers three of the artist’s sculptures and more than a dozen works on paper, covering four decades of her career.  (At right, Bontecou’s Untitled, 1959.) Through August 30.

All exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art.

F or You Mom, Finally. Giving Mother’s Day a literary twist, author and former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl and cultural critic Daphne Merkin explore the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship, and imagining who your mother was before she became your mother. The discussion is based on Reichl’s new book of the same name, a quick read at 144 pages. Sunday, May 9, 2:30 p.m. at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City.

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