June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day - Celebrating TV Dads

On this Father's Day, I'd like to take a moment to talk about some great TV fathers. Before you read on, I'll acknowledge that this post leans toward father-daughter relationships. It's partly because I'm a daughter, but it's also because it was hard to think of very many father-son TV relationships that were particularly commendable. Anyway, here they are: five of my favorite dads of the small screen!

The All-American Dad
Source: abc.com
Mike Heck - The Middle
Along with Jay Pritchett and Phil Dunphy, a modern ABC sitcom father who should enter the annals of Great TV Dad history is Mike Heck. Sure, this middle-aged middle-class Dad may not be a warm, cuddly father. And yeah, he makes his share of mistakes. Once he even admitted he had a favorite kid - in front of the other two kids. But he also goes out of his way to support his children when they need it - agreeing to coach a soccer team of cliquey teen girls so Sue would have a chance to play. Standing up for awkward little Brick when he believes he's being picked on. Laying down the law for lazy Axl. But perhaps more importantly, Mike loves his kids' mother, Frankie, even when she's stressed or sad. He's your average family man. That's what makes him great.

The Funny Father 
Source: cbs.com
Simon Roberts - The Crazy Ones
I am super disappointed that this Robin Williams headlined show has been cancelled. Poor Sarah Michelle Gellar can't seem to catch a break. In any case, Simon's greatest strength as a father was, not surprisingly, Robin Williams's greatest strength as an actor - that perfect combination of silly and sweet. Simon, father to Gellar's Sydney, consistently brought the humor to their charming relationship, which, yes, left Sydney to bring the common sense. The two of them played on the whole "bringing up father" role reversal in a workplace environment, incorporating the familial aspects of a sitcom in hilarious ways. Despite their dysfunction, these two characters effectively balance out one another's strengths and weaknesses, a quality indicative of a healthy father-daughter relationship. It only lasted a season, but The Crazy Ones is worth your time.

The Father Who Knew Best
Source: thetvmouse.com
Jack Bristow - Alias
Next on my list of great TV dads is another father of a Sydney - the humorless Jack Bristow. Half the time we didn't trust him, and when we did, we weren't sure that we should. But even when his actions seemed altogether villainous, Jack really did have Sydney's best interest at heart. He may be the dad on this list with the most faults, but his status as super spy makes up for that. The times he saved Sydney's life are too many to mention, let alone count. And if there's a father out there who needs a tutorial in scaring off daughters' boyfriends, he need look no further than Jack's phone conversation with Sydney's fiancĂ© Danny in the pilot episode. He may have an icy exterior, but Jack Bristow has a warm heart once you realize he's one of the good guys.

The Dad Who Stopped at Nothing
Source: ew.com
If there's a TV Dad who deserves credit for trying, it's Michael. First, he had to fix the relationship with an estranged son he never wanted to part from in the first place. Then, compounding the whole deserted island problem, poor Walt gets kidnapped. But Michael never gives up the search for his little boy. Yes, he is determined to a fault. (Actually, he might have more faults than Jack, because yeah, did commit a double homicide there in the hatch.) In the end, getting Walt off the island might not have been Michael's best decision, but he did what he thought he had to do in the near impossible situation the story handed him. 

The Single Dad Who Did it All
Source: facebook.com/VeronicaMars
Keith Mars - Veronica Mars
Television is chock-full of awkward father-daughter relationships. Suburgatory's George and Tessa have a chemistry can hit the viewer strangely given the actors' small age difference (Jane Levy is just 15 years younger than Sisto.) The fact that Tessa calls her father by his first name doesn't help.  Nashville's Deacon and Maddie are awkwardly navigating the new father-daughter relationship they've discovered in a manner all-to-akin to dating. But then there's Keith Mars, father to Veronica, girl detective. Keith was always the right combination of strict and empowering.  In TV terms, he managed to maintain his own storylines all the while supporting hers.  The scene when the two of them confirm their biological relationship was the most moving moment this emotion-laden show saw. Well, either that or when he saved her life at the end of Season 1. In times of trouble, Keith was strong for his daughter, and the best single dad TV has ever seen.

Have a favorite TV dad who's not on this list? Tell us about him in the comments!

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