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?