There are the good, All-American moms. “The Brady Bunch’s” Carol Brady — played by Florence Henderson — always knew the right thing to say and had the warm hug to give. Her daughters — Jan (Eve Plumb, left), Marcia (Maureen McCormick, center) and Cindy (Susan Olsen) — looked up to her.
Not all moms are as perfect as June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley, here with Jerry Mathers as the Beaver), but she’s a tough act to follow, whether you’re a TV mom or a parent in real life. But then there are the moms who appear less than loving…
“Downton Abbey” would be much less entertaining without the cutting Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith. There’s love in her heart — she did raise Robert and Rosamund (with the help of servants, of course) — but her mouth says things such as, “I will applaud your discretion when you leave.”
Betty Draper — later Betty Francis (January Jones, here with Marten Holden Weiner) — tries to be a polished, grown-up mother on “Mad Men,” but the years have shown that her glamorous sheen hides a brittle interior.
Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) doesn’t even try to hide her brittleness. The “Arrested Development” matriarch abuses underlings — that would be almost everybody — and has been known to enjoy a drink. Or several.
And Estelle Costanza (Estelle Harris)? She was a perpetual thorn in the side of her son, George (Jason Alexander), on “Seinfeld.” However, on at least one occasion, he was master of his domain.
Other mothers have their complexities. Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) cared about her children and loved her husband Tony, but she tried to turn a blind eye to his business (which wasn’t really waste management) and was known to consider straying.
Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham, left) may have been mother to Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel), but she wasn’t always the adult on “Gilmore Girls.” Since she gave birth to Rory when she was 16, she had a lot of growing up to do.
On “Roseanne,” Roseanne Barr (left, with Sara Gilbert) could be brash and sarcastic, but she was good with her children — often while being brash and sarcastic.
Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies, right, with Makenzie Vega as daughter Grace) on “The Good Wife” has been through a lot: her husband’s infidelity, challenges at her law firm, up-and-down relationships. She can be mercurial, but as a mother, she’s steadfast and protective.
“Weeds’ ” Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker, here with Alexander Gould) bent a few rules to maintain the comfortable lifestyle of herself and her kids. Like selling marijuana and trying to stay out of jail. Hey, it was a living.
Peggy Bundy of “Married … With Children” (Katey Sagal, second from right) was blowzy and materialistic, but she would stand with her family when threatened. Son Bud (David Faustino), husband Al (Ed O’Neill) and daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) were usually firmly behind her.
“Modern Family’s” Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) and Gloria Pritchett (Sofia Vergara) are more lovable. The pair don’t always see eye to eye, especially since Gloria is married to Claire’s father, but they always put their families first.
“One Day at a Time” featured a divorced single mother, a rarity on television in the 1970s. Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin, center) handled two daughters (played by Mackenzie Phillips, left, and Valerie Bertinelli, right), their mixed-up lives (including husbands Michael Lembeck and Boyd Gaines) and a wacky super played by Pat Harrington.
Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden, right) had the mixed blessing of being a mother on the starship Enterprise in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It could be hard taking care of the crew — and a son, Wesley, played by Wil Wheaton. Of course, the precocious Wesley Crusher always saved the day.
A mother that was also the literal leader of the band? That was the case on “The Partridge Family” in which Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones, left) sang with her children and drove the bus. Sure, maybe Keith (David Cassidy, second from left) sang lead, but we know who was really in charge.
“Good Times’ ” Florida Evans (Esther Rolle, third from left) provided a lot of love and discipline to her children, Michael, J.J. and Thelma (Ralph Carter, left, Jimmie Walker and BernNadette Stanis).
In “Family Ties,” Elyse Keaton (Meredith Baxter, second from left) juggled life as an architect with a mother’s sturdy guidance for her children (from left, Justine Bateman, Brian Bonsall, Tina Yothers and Michael J. Fox). Husband Steven (Michael Gross, far left) was an equal partner.
“The Cosby Show’s” Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad, right, with Keshia Knight Pulliam) could keep her doctor husband, played by Bill Cosby, on his toes, and was a successful lawyer and mother to boot.
Maybe Marge Simpson isn’t as perfect as Clair Huxtable. Maybe her children can be difficult and her hair barely fits in the car. The loving wife of Homer and mother of Maggie, Lisa and Bart is the heart of the Simpson clan, the one to lead the way when things go awry. Which they often do.