Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who are the best television fathers?

When it comes to television, fathers are usually pretty clichéd – at least the good ones.

They’re patient individuals that listen to their children’s problems – but usually step back and let the mothers do the heavy lifting.

It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that television mothers are usually more hands on.

There are a few exceptions, though.

So, in honor of Father’s Day, television’s top fathers are:

5. Charles Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie): When it came to their Pa, the Ingalls girls not only knew they were lucky but they told anyone that would listen. Pa was the primary bread-winner and father of four girls, but he never let the family’s financial struggles beat them. He always had time to spend with his children – especially Laura and Mary. And, later, when every other child on the prairie lost their parents he had an open heart and was ready to adopt them. Okay, the adoptions got out of control, but during the first six seasons of ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ there couldn’t have been a better father or friend for the Ingalls girls. Pa’s legacy is bittersweet now, given Michael Landon’s premature death, but I don’t know anyone that wasn’t touched by his relationship with his children.

4. Red Forman (That 70’s Show): This may seem like an odd choice – especially given the open disdain Red seemed to have for his only son at times – but the truth is that Red was a good guy. Eric may have drove him to distraction at times with his smart mouth and cadre of obnoxious friends, but when it came down to it, Red always tried to impart some form of wisdom on Eric. Red not only took care of his two errant children, but he took in neighborhood derelict Hyde, as well, even though his own family was struggling financially. The great thing about Red, though, is that he never fell for his son’s lies. Red was a father that could sniff out the truth – well most of the time -- he still thought that smell in the basement was incense. Maybe that was a case of a parent not wanting to know what his hophead son was doing?

3. Steven Keaton (Family Ties): Sure, show matriarch Elyse was the boss in the family, but father Steven was really the heart. A former hippy, Steven had a relaxed approach to parenting – that is, of course, until a thug on a motorcycle came to court his eldest daughter. Then Steven turned into a maniacal control freak -- until he regained his senses, of course. Steven was one of those fathers that knew when to push his offspring – but he also knew when to take a step back and let them succeed or fail on their own. Having such varied children – especially when it came to their ages – Steven had his work cut out for him. Luckily, all of his children had their own strengths – and that was more Steven’s influence than that of anybody else. In the end, Steven may have had specific ideas about what his children should do and how they should do it -- but he was willing to back off and let them discover their futures on their own.

 2. Cliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show): Cliff may have acted like he didn’t want to be bothered sometimes, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Cliff was just as involved in his children’s antics and problems as his wife – sometimes even more involved. What was nice about Cliff is that even though he spazzed about the small things – like Theo’s earring, Rudy’s goldfish, Vanessa’s constant drama – when it came to the big things he was always calm. He’s the one that handled becoming a grandfather with aplomb. He’s the one that acknowledged that daughter Denise might not be cut out for college. And he’s the one that calmly helped son Theo discover his dyslexia and beat it. Of course, the Huxtables never faced any really big issues. They may have been television’s top black family of all time – but the hurdles they faced were awful vanilla. Cliff was still one of those cool fathers you can only find on television.

1. Dan Conner (Roseanne): It might have been her show, but Dan was just as important as Roseanne was when it came to raising their kids. Sure, sometimes he got distracted by his failing bike shop, a basketball game and his unruly friends – but Dan was a man that strived to teach his children right from wrong by doing, not just saying. What was interesting about the Conners is that they faced real life problems. They struggled to spend time with their children while sometimes working two jobs to keep a roof over their head  -- and a lot of people can relate to that. When eldest daughter Becky took off and eloped, Dan was more heartbroken than Roseanne. It took him longer to come around to the marriage, but he was always there when it was important. Dan was the opposite of Roseanne when it came to child rearing sometimes. He was more apt to let his children discover who they were on their own, while Roseanne told them who they were.

Honorable mentions go to Tom Mason (Falling Skies), Ward Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver), Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show), Al Bundy (Married With Children), Archie Bunker (All in the Family), Phil Dunphy (Modern Family), Danny Tanner (Full House), Michael and Joey (My Two Dads), Angel (Angel), Jack Bristow (Alias), and Tim Taylor (Home Improvement).

What do you think? Who are television’s top dads?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home