Over the last four decades, the number of single moms in the U.S. has increased dramatically -- from 3.5 million in 1970 to a whopping 10 million in 2011. As the number of real-life single moms has skyrocketed, so has the number of single moms portrayed on TV.

Below, we hand-picked seven of our current favorites to show that these days, kick-ass single moms come in all shapes and sizes. Sure, not every one of these ladies is a poster-mama for perfect parenting. But at the end of the day, they always seems to have their kids' best interests at heart -- and what's more admirable than that?

Click through the slideshow to see our top picks and then weigh in with your favorites -- past and present -- in the comments.

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  • Joan Holloway Harris in AMC's "Mad Men"

    Joan Holloway Harris -- <a href="http://www.amctv.com/shows/mad-men/cast/joan-harris">office manager-turned-junior partner </a>of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce -- becomes a single mother in Season 5 of the critically acclaimed AMC drama. Joan kicks her husband out of their Manhattan apartment after she discovers that he <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/04/mad-mens-mystery-date.html">voluntarily re-enlisted in the army</a> without consulting her first. We have serious respect for a 1960s woman like Joan who is empowered to <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/04/mad-mens-mystery-date.html">stand up to her husband</a>, even if it means he might leave her. "I'm glad the army makes you feel like a man, because I'm sick of doing it," <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/04/mad-mens-mystery-date.html">she tells him</a>. That's our girl.

  • Jackie Peyton on Showtime's "Nurse Jackie"

    Jackie Peyton -- the titular character of the dramedy "Nurse Jackie" -- plays a no-nonsense emergency room nurse who begins her foray into single motherhood in Season 4 after her husband, Kevin, <a href="http://screencrush.com/nurse-jackie-review-one-armed-jacks/">serves her with divorce papers</a>. In a particularly nurturing moment at the end of the season, Jackie finally answers angsty daughter Grace's pleas to <a href="http://screencrush.com/nurse-jackie-review-handle-your-scandal/">pull her out of the private school</a> she so despises and enroll her in the local New York City public school instead. Go Mom!

  • Jules Cobb in ABC's "Cougar Town"

    When the series began,"Cougar Town's" Jules Cobb -- played by Courteney Cox -- was a recently divorced mother-of-one learning how to be a single parent while navigating the single life, with plenty of hilarious missteps along the way. In this clip, self-proclaimed "cool" mom Jules tries to give her teenage son a safe sex lesson -- a role usually assumed by the father -- It all goes rather unsuccessfully. But hey, we give her an A+ for effort. And yes, we know Jules <a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2012/05/cougar-town-season-3-finale-a-walk-on-the-beach.html">recently married Cul-De-Sac Crew member and neighbor Grayson</a>, but she's so damn lovable, we just had to include her on the list.

  • Kate Fox in Fox's "Ben and Kate"

    Kate Fox -- played by Melanie Griffith's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/dakota-johnson-melanie-griffith-kimmel-video_n_1876216.html">daughter Dakota Johnson </a>-- is a young, cautious single mom who decides to let her goofy brother Ben move in with her and her five-year-old daughter Maddie. Kate realizes that her scardey cat tendencies may have rubbed off on her young daughter when one night, <a href="http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2012/10/ben-and-kate-review-emergency-kit-episode-105.html">Maddie gets stuck in the attic</a> and refuses to jump down. When Kate senses Maddie's hesitation, she turns it into a teaching moment, telling her that when you’re surrounded by people you love, sometimes you have to make a leap and hope for the best -- no matter how scary it may be. Aww.

  • Goldie Clemmons on NBC's "The New Normal"

    Midwestern waitress Goldie Clemmons moves from Ohio to California, leaving her deadbeat baby daddy behind in order to give her daughter, Shania, <a href="http://www.nbc.com/the-new-normal/about/bio/cast/georgia-king/586201">a shot at the life she never had</a>. Goldie is consistently supportive of her daughter's quirkiness -- even allowing her to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/the-new-normal-episode-2_n_1875238.html" target="_hplink">impersonate Little Edie</a> from the documentary "Grey Gardens."

  • Sarah Braverman on NBC's "Parenthood"

    Lauren Graham -- who once played <a href="http://www.aoltv.com/2010/02/08/lauren-graham-in-parenthood-more-than-lorelai-gilmore-2-0/">beloved single mom</a> Lorelai Gilmore on "Gilmore Girls" -- now portrays single parent Sarah Braverman on "Parenthood." While she may not seem to have it all together on the surface, Sarah is actually a stand-out parent who cares deeply for daughter Amber and son Drew. In the third season, she makes the difficult decision to give her drug addicted ex-husband Seth <a href="http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/episodeguide/parenthood_s3_e06/">an ultimatum</a> -- either he goes to rehab or he stops seeing the kids for good. Although she's not always painted as the most responsible parent, we loved seeing Sarah as a strong woman and sound decision maker.

  • Pamela on FX's "Louie"

    Pamela Adlon plays Louie CK's unrequited love interest on FX's critically acclaimed comedy "Louie." Single dad Louie meets Pamela -- a brassy single mom -- at a PTA meeting at his daughters' school. If one thing is certain, it's that Pamela is an open book. In one episode, after a few glasses of wine, she admits to occasionally getting "bored of being a mom." She may not be taking home the "Mom of the Year" award any time soon, but we appreciate the comic relief Pamela's sardonic take on single parenting provides.

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