Happy Father’s Day, 3.5 readers. Today’s the day to grab the family patriarch a cigar, a beer, and a steak and treat him like a king, to make up for the other 364 days a year where you walk all over him. Come on. You know you do.
In honor of this illustrious day, from BQB HQ in fabulous East Randomtown, it’s the Top Ten TV Dads of All Time:
#10 – Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) “Leave it to Beaver”
The man worked hard and he rested hard. Came home every day to a clean house and a nice home cooked meal. June would have his slippers and newspaper waiting for him so he could chill by the fireplace. He’d dispense some words of wisdom to his sons, Wally and the Beaver, but then June would take care of all the washing their clothes and cleaning behind their ears bullshit. Yup, you might assume June went out of her way to keep her man happy because it was the 1950s but I submit that maybe, just maybe, Ward’s pimp game was strong and June bent over backwards for Ward because his bedroom game was strong. (I assume off camera Ward and June pushed their twin beds together and knocked boots. Where else did Wally and the Beaver come from?)
#9 – Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) – Bonanza
Based on modern standards, you might assume that Ben Cartwright was a very long suffering, put upon, taken advantage of father seeing as how his three adult sons, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe all stayed on the family ranch well into adulthood and oddly enough, despite coming from a super rich family, none of the boys ever found a long lasting relationship with a woman.
But then you have to remember that the family homestead, “the Ponderosa” was said to have taken up a large chunk of Nevada so…yeah, if your Dad owned Nevada then you can be given a pass for still living at home when you’re forty.
Ben would lead the boys on all sorts of adventures every week – robbers, cattle rustlers, scammers, schemers and the like. Also, did I mention the Cartwrights were rich? So literally ever other villain was like, “Those dirty rich ass Cartwrights screwed me over so now I must have my revenge!”
Shit. Everyone dumped all their problems on the one percent even in the 1800s.
Still. I feel bad that Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe had such little game with the ladies. I mean, seriously, if you can’t get your hands on some poon with a pickup line like, “Hey baby, my pops owns Nevada” then you are hopeless.
#8 – Dan Conner (John Goodman) Roseanne
This show gave the nation a glimpse into how the other half lived, and if Roseanne was the anti-June cleaver, then Dan was the anti-Ward. Chronically unemployed, audiences got to see the toil that struggling to be a good provider for his family can take on the male ego. Dan was practically laid off every other week, but after taking a hit to his self-esteem, he’d pick himself up, find a new job, or create one if he couldn’t find one, doing all sorts of menial labor.
Along the way, he’d put up with bickering daughters, a bickering wife and sister-in-law, dopey young men who didn’t seem like they’d amount to much of anything chasing after his daughters, he’d be left unappreciated often but he muddled through.
Most men wish they could be Ward with June fetching the paper and slippers but alas, most men are like Dan, coming home tired after a long day at work only to be chewed out by an angry wife and have to put up with a bunch of nonsense from smart aleck kids.
#7 – Fred G. Sanford (Red Foxx) – Sanford and Son
Sigh. It’s inevitable. If parents live long enough, they eventually become the kids and the kids become the parents.
Fred and his son, Lamont own an LA junk dealership in the Watts neighborhood of LA. Lamont, well into adulthood, dreams of going out into the world on his own and being his own man. Alas, he’s so worried about his troublemaking father that he sticks around, afraid that the old man will ruin himself with one of us ill advised get rich quick schemes.
And did Fred appreciate his son? Not outwardly, seeing as how he openly referred to Lamont as “dummy.” But he loved him, as he loved his long deceased wife Elizabeth, so much so that the slightest symptom of illness would cause him to grab his chest, look to the sky and shout out, “This is the big one! I’m coming to join you, Elizabeth!”
We have a mother’s day and a father’s day. There should probably be a “Caretaker of a Very Difficult Elderly Parent Day” to honor people like Lamont.
#6 – Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) “The Andy Griffith Show”
That opening scene says it all. Even though Sheriff Andy Griffith is an officer of the law, he always has time to sneak off of work and take his son Opie (little Ron Howard) fishing. It probably helped that they lived in a small town where the only criminal was town drunk Otis who would report to the station whenever he had one too many and lock himself in. Plus, Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) usually had shit on lockdown.
#5 – Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) – “Who’s the Boss?”
You got to love a man willing to go the extra mile for his daughter. Down and out ex-baseball player Tony Micelli, a true manly man, takes a job as housekeeper for big shot businesswoman Angela. You’d think that would be a surefire way for most men to feel like their balls have been snipped off and put in a mason jar, but Tony never lost his manly machismo no matter how many beds he made or meals he cooked.
#4 – Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) – “Growing Pains”
Yes, it was the 1980s, the country was getting a little less “traditional” and women were working more. Thus, Dr. Jason Seaver sets up his psychiatry practice in his house (hopefully he had a separate entrance for all the crazies) thus giving him more time at home to watch over the kids while wife Maggie went to work as a journalist.
Yes, like Tony Micelli, he was another man who pushed through this non-traditional situation while retaining his manliness and keeping his nut sack intact.
RIP Adam Thicke. You are missed.
#3 – Danny Tanner, Jesse Katsopolis, Joey Gladstone (Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier) – “Full House”
Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men. When Danny Tanner’s wife kicks the bucket far too soon, he recruits his brother in law Jesse and friend Joey to move in and help him raise three precocious daughters. Danny would be epically lame, Jesse would still find time to jam with his rock band, and literally no one thought it was creepy that Joey lived in the basement and talked to his puppets.
“Men can be mothers too!” Hollywood cried and alas, we menfolk have been fetching our own newspapers and our own slippers ever since. I doubt there will be another Ward every again. I hope Ward knew how good he had it.
#2 – John Walton, Sr. (Ralph Waite) – The Waltons
It was depression era Virginia and John Walton Sr. literally had like nine trillion kids. Seriously. The family was a big ensemble cast and I can’t count how many kids were living in that house. The man was severely put upon, running a struggling saw mill and doing other odd jobs just to make ends meet, taking care of his voluminous family as well as his elderly parents.
Somehow, he did it all with a grimace on his face that often turned into a smile. Plus, even though he and his family were poor as hell, he didn’t give his son John Boy shit about being a writer. John Boy’s struggles to become a famous writer was the main plot point of the show and if you’re a struggling writer, you know that even in families that aren’t struggling through the depression where everyone’s walking around barefoot because they can’t afford shoes, the family patriarch is usually screaming at the kids to drop ideas about pie-in-the-sky dreams and focus on something practical.
Hell, my Uncle Hardass commands me to stop writing and get a real job every day even now.
But nope. John Sr. never slapped John Boy upside the head once and told him to drop his stupid books and get a real job. He didn’t even slap son Jason upside the head and tell him to drop that stupid banjo, stop trying to become a musician and get a real job.
The man just continued to suffer, sawing extra wood and taking extra jobs all the while his dumb sons kept writing and playing music. If you are a creative person just starting out in the world, pray for a father like John Walton Sr.
#1 – A TIE!
Homer J. Simpson (Dan Castellanetta) “The Simpsons” and Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) – “Married with Children)
Homer J. Simpson is literally dumber than a box of rocks. He’s also extremely lazy, often found asleep at the switch at his job at the nuclear power plant or enjoying a tasty donut. “Mmm donut.”
Yet, somehow he always finds the time to make Marge suffer with one of his ridiculous schemes, or to strangle son Bart (yet avoid capture by child protection services) and to be made to feel stupid by brainy daughter Lisa.
He may be bald, but otherwise, he hasn’t aged since 1989. Oh, the benefits of being a cartoon.
Meanwhile, Al Bundy would come home every night from his job at a Chicago shoe store were obese women would give him shit for not being able to find shoes that would fit their enormous feet. His wife, Peggy and kids, Bud and Kelly, would treat him like a human ATM machine, fighting over who gets to snatch what little money was left in his wallet.
Yes, the Ward days were gone, as Peggy refused to cook, or clean, or literally do anything to contribute to the family’s well-being other than to sit on the couch and eat bon bons all day. Meanwhile, Kelly was the town tramp who would bring home a series of idiot boyfriends whose asses Al would have to kick while Bud was something of a boy genius yet shared in his father’s inability to get any respect from anyone.
Yes, Al was miserable but he didn’t take it lying down. With his next door neighbor/friend Jefferson, he established the organization known as “No Ma’am” (the National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood) where he and likeminded, put upon men would meet and complain about how their wives didn’t appreciate them. Also, they would drink beer. Lots of beer. In my opinion, the No Ma’am episodes were among the best of that show. Why that organization didn’t get off the ground with a chapter in every city and town I’ll never know.
In retrospect, it seems kind of odd to me that Al was so pissed off every time wife Peggy demanded sex. I mean, Peggy was no Marilyn Monroe but she was still pretty hot, and if anything, a lack of sex is usually a husband’s burden. But I assume the joke was that married people find themselves stuck in a rut, putting up with the same ole, same ole, day in and day out.
Sure, Al may have lusted over his copies of “Bigguns” and taken the occasional trip to the nudey bar with Jefferson, but he always came home to Peg.
Plus, you have to hand it to a man who is able to make a single moment last a lifetime. No matter how bad things got, Al always reminded people of his life’s single greatest accomplishment – he once scored four touchdowns in a single game.
YOUR FAVORITE TV FATHERS
Is your favorite not on the list? Discuss in the comments.