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If only they could have been our mothers! Here are the seven best moms ever seen on television. (Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!)

Marge Simpson (The Simpsons) By any measure, Marge is the most capable stay-at-home mom in TV history. Who else could feed a family of five on $12 a week (“I stretch your father’s meatloaf with sawdust”)? And who else could see only the best intentions in her layabout husband Homer, the least dependable breadwinner since Willy Loman? Likewise, Marge believes hellspawn son Bart is a good kid and that new-age daughter Lisa will eventually reject Buddhism and start eating meat again. To baby Maggie, she’s a blue-haired tower of love and strength.

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Shirley Partridge (The Partridge Family) Here’s something to think about: When The Partridge Family debuted in 1970, the central character of Shirley Partridge, played by Oscar-winner Shirley Jones, was the first working single mom in TV history (naturally she was a widow, not a divorcee). Over four seasons, Shirley dispensed sensible if unsensational maternal advice to her brood of five and kept them largely untainted by the sleazy music industry. Shirley kept the wheels of the family bus rolling and never even took time out for a date. Impressively, Ms. Jones, now 79, is still the sensible one in her recurring guest role on the Disney Channel sitcom Good Luck Charlie (although she’s now playing the grandmother).

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Claire Dunphy (Modern Family) Nobody ever said a great TV mom had to be perfect. Claire (Emmy-winner Julie Bowen) realizes she’s married to an immature dolt and that her three kids are slowly draining the life from her, but she still goes through the mothering motions better than any current mom on television. Claire’s most revealing moments come when she’s trying to instill valuable life lessons into her self-centered progeny, which in the past has seen with a frozen-smile rictus while explaining death to son Luke or shrieking her knowledge of training bras to youngest daughter Alex in a public place. Mo-ther!

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Gemma Teller-Morrow (Sons of Anarchy) She’s bad to the bone, our Gemma. As portrayed by the talented Katey Sagal, Gemma is a genuine biker mama who took an active part in the planned murder of her son’s biological father–and all because the guy wanted to move the motorcycle gang in a less violent direction. She’s a master manipulator and an accomplished liar and a damn fine businesswoman; even getting married again was a business move for Gemma. And despite the fact she once held an infant at gunpoint, she’s a nurturing earth mother.

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Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos) As portrayed by Edie Falco, long-suffering Carmela came from humble roots and rose to the very top of New Jersey royalty, courtesy of marriage and motherhood with the mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). Over six seasons, Carm endured Tony’s philandering and gangster ways, but never wavered in her wholehearted devotion to son AJ and daughter Meadow (even though both were roughly as appreciative as their boorish father). Why embrace a thankless task? Because that’s what a good Italian mother does.

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June Cleaver (Leave It To Beaver) Pert and pretty June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley) set the standard for TV moms in the fifties and beyond. In most outings of the series, the disciplining of her mischievous sons Theodore and Wally was left to husband Ward (Hugh Beaumont), while June busied herself with making lunches and hosting bridge parties. It was pretty obvious Ward wore the pants in the Cleaver family, but June always wore her heart on her sleeve and we loved her for it.

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Roseanne Connor (Roseanne) She was crass, she was crude and she never seemed to care what her three kids were doing, but Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) was real and lovable. The matriarch of the Connor clan was a weary working stiff, as was husband Dan (John Goodman), and they usually didn’t deal with any of their kids’ problems until the reached crisis stage, which is pretty much what most parents handle things, right? As a bonus, Roseanne’s bitter arguments with her own mom (Estelle Parsons) were clashes of legendary proportion. Ah, the circle of life.

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