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The Globe and Mail

Betty Draper and more: The 7 worst moms in TV history

Thank god they're only fictional, right? Here are the seven worst mothers ever seen on television. (Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!)

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Betty Draper (Mad Men) Remember that scene in the first season of Mad Men when Betty Draper (January Jones) snaps at her daughter Sally for running around the house with a plastic dry-cleaner bag over her head? Betty’s concern: The kid was going to wrinkle the dress inside the bag. And so began the non-mothering skills of TV’s iciest matriarch, the kind of mom who would actually visit her daughter’s child psychiatrist on the sly in hopes of getting the inside scoop on the kid. Regular viewers know that Betty had her own troubled upbringing and gave birth herself at a too-young age, but that doesn’t excuse a monstrous mother. And you wonder why Don gave up on the marriage so easily?

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Mags Bennett (Justified) Veteran character player Margo Martindale won an Emmy Award for playing mean old Mags. As the undisputed boss and matriarch of a Kentucky hillbilly crime family, Mags is the mother of four idiot sons and rules over them via favoritism and head games. And ruthless? When Mags decided she wanted a daughter, she simply poisoned the father of a local teenager and took the girl in to raise as her own. In her most memorable scene, Mags once punished her youngest boy for speaking out of turn by pounding his hand into a pulp with a hammer. She’s scary, y’all.

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Peg Bundy (Married…with Children) Long before Katey Sagal was running a bike gang on Sons of Anarchy, she was the shiftless matriarch of TV’s most wretched sitcom. As the tarted-up housefrau Peg, she couldn’t be bothered to cook, clean or perform any of the usual activities of women without gainful employment. Instead, Peg spent her days watching TV and constantly complaining to her woebegone husband Al (Ed O’Neill) about their lack of a sex life. Peg never wondered why her teenage kids Kelly (Christina Applegate) and Bud (David Faustino) were slutty and cretinish, respectively. Peg just didn’t care.

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Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones ) Even by usual fantasy TV standards, Cersei (Lena Headey) is an icky mom. She’s carried on an incestuous affair with her own twin brother Jaime since childhood and has even had three children with him. And when she learns that her husband, King Robert, is about to find out that the children he sees as heirs to the throne are not really his, she has him killed and instills her eldest on the throne in his place.

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Sarah Linden (The Killing) Is there anything more destructive than a mother completely wrapped up in her career? Homicide cop Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is a divorced mom and began the series by telling her 13-year-old son that they were moving to California. Not so fast, kiddo. Sarah keeps stringing the kid along while solving murders (The Killing returns for a third season on June 2) and most often her son is left in waiting rooms or motel rooms or worse. At one point, Child Protective Services was actually investigating her on claims of bad mothering!

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Selina Meyer (Veep) By all reports, the inimitable Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a wonderful mother of two in real life, but she’s a mom nightmare in this HBO series. As the fictional vice-president Selina, she has tons of her plate but her daughter Catherine is sitting somewhere near the bottom of the list. Selina makes a lunch date with her daughter and then leaves her sitting in her office all day. Then Selina promises the kid a dog (which she’s been asking for since childhood) but only agrees to get the pooch when it promises to turn into a photo-op.

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Nancy Botwin (Weeds) Sure, the suburban soccer mom Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) only began pot dealing to support her family following the unexpected death of her husband, but did she really have to drag them into the business? For obvious reasons, both her sons were entranced by the illegal drug business and one of them even killed a man along the way. Nancy’s response was to take the rap for her kid, which resulted in a three-year stretch in prison, but her effort was too little, too late. And the kids got even worse in her absence!

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