Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Week in Off-Topic: The Best (And Worst) TV Fathers

And his fashion sense was impeccable too!
Today is Fathers' Day, which means a celebration for all the guys out there who sired offspring and weren't chickenshit enough to run out on those children. Dads in entertainment are a mixed bag, especially on television. There have been some good dads, and there have been some really awful patriarchs as well. Here are the five best and worst fathers in television, at least from my estimation.


1. Clifford Heathcliff Huxtable, MD, The Cosby Show: The most cliched answer is so because it is the easiest and best. Dr. Huxtable was a dad elemental, dispensing wisdom and showing unconditional love to all his kids, even the bratty Olivia who came into play in the later seasons. There's a reason why when you think "TV Dad," The Hux is the first who comes to mind.

2. Danny Tanner, Full House: Danny was a rare breed, a single father in television. Sure, he had a lot of help, which might seem like it diminishes his stature on the list. He was lucky to have his brother-in-law and best friend live there, but that didn't take away from the fact that he was absurdly patient and outstandingly kind, all with the anguish of having to raise three girls without a strong mother figure in the house.

3. Philip Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Uncle Phil was not Will's father, but Will's real father was a piece of shit who ran out of him. So he had to make do. Sure, he was tougher on Will than he was on his own three (later four) kids, but he had to be, and he only was like that because he loved Will. He sure did.

4. General Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender: Again, he was only an uncle in blood to Prince Zuko, and his own son was sent to his death in a senseless siege on Ba Sing Se. However, he was more a father figure to the future Fire Lord than his own father was. Wise, patient, and above all else, forgiving, Iroh showed that there's more than one way to be a good father to someone.

5. Master Splinter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: IF you think about it, Splinter was maybe the quintessential single father. He made it look easy, sure. The best way to raise four, unruly young boys (turtle or otherwise) could very well be to run your house as a military school. However, he also never showed a lack of compassion, and his boys meant more to him than anything in the world, even gaining revenge against the evil Oroku Saki for killing his one true love.

Honorable Mention: Mike Seaver, Steven Keaton, Carl Winslow, Stephen J. Bartowski, Professor Utonium, Eddard Stark, Jonathan Kent, Burt Hummel, Mike Brady, Homer Simpson

Two of a kind, these two are
Photo Credit for Vince -

1. Vince McMahon, RAW, Smackdown, etc.: I know we're playing with the hairy edge here, since McMahon is very much a real person. However, the thing about wrestling is the characters, no matter how similar they are to the real people, are just characters. And McMahon's character? Well, anyone who'd willingly let his daughter be sacrificed up to a demonic cult leader is a real piece of smelly shit in my book.

2. Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones: The title of "Most Evil Man in the Seven Kingdoms" could go or have gone to any number of men above Papa Lion. But neither Ramsay Snow nor Joffrey Baratheon ever sired a kid, and I'd shudder for the fictional world of Westeros if they did or would. Sure, women are not considered people in that universe, but Tywin goes above and beyond in making his daughter Cersei feel like a piece of meat rather than a human being. And that doesn't even go into how awful his relationship with Tyrion is. You could argue he's kind to Jaime, but tough love only works if there's love underneath the toughness. There's nothing to suggest that Tywin cares about anything other than his family name and coffers of gold.

3t. Christian Shephard, Wayne Janssen, Anthony Cooper, Charles Widmore, Paik Woo-Jung, Benjamin Linus, and Roger Linus, LOST: You might as well call LOST "Daddy Issues: The Serial," since the number of terrible fathers and father figures that populated the six seasons is staggering. Special shoutout goes to Cooper, who threw his own goddamn kid out a window after swindling him out of a kidney. Not even Ben Linus, who let his stepdaughter Alex die in a game of chicken, was that evil. At least her death haunted him.

4. Fire Lord Ozai, Avatar: The Last Airbender: Just as #4 above was a great father to Zuko, his biological dad was the most vile steaming turd in that world. What kind of father would banish his son after kicking his ass in a fire-duel, just for speaking out of turn? And bonus points for him cultivating his daughter's already unstable tendencies into being a sociopathic heiress to his Fire Lordship. A good father wouldn't have raised Azula to be a fully actualized psycho.

5. Frank Reynolds, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: It takes a special kind of lowlife to be an awful father not only to the people you THOUGHT were your kids, but to your actual biological kid with whom you live in squalor despite the fact that you're worth enough to buy the entire flea-ridden apartment building in which you live. On a show full of malcontents and scoundrels, Frank is king, and that's saying something

Dishonorable Menion: Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture, Peter Griffin, Timmy's Dad, Duke Phillips, Walter White, Frank Costanza, George Bluth, Sr., Homer Simpson

BONUS QUESTION (for the comments)

Was Archie Bunker a good or bad father?