Last week, Paste Magazine posted a list online of the 10 best (and worst) TV dads. Some of the dads who made the list were hard to argue with, either because they really were great or because I’m not familiar enough with them to say. However, there were some great TV dads that were left off the list, or incorrectly assigned as worst dads. So, I present an amended list of best TV dads, as selected by me:
Sure, he’s a little inept, but Goofy’s affection for his son Max could never be denied. A little oblivious, but when it mattered, he always came through for his son. And he did it as a single dad; all in all, he’s a pretty honorable guy, and he raised a great kid.
From an outsider, the Addams family might look pretty screwed up, but it was an ordinary, functional nuclear family at its heart. Gomez did what any great father should do for his kids: Let them be themselves. Like most good TV dads, he taught them lessons and set boundaries, but he was able to do it all while also standing up for what they believe in.
Frank Lambert was the Mike Brady of the ‘90s without the square attitude. Besides being a loving and understanding father to his own children, he also became like a real father to his stepkids. What made Frank especially great was that he wasn’t perfect all the time, but above all he lived for his family.
Paste put him on the list of worst dads, but in many ways he was actually a great dad. He exercised discipline when he felt it was necessary, but it rarely actually became necessary. People like to focus on his “foot in your ass” comments and calling his son a dumbass, but they’re overlooking the moments when Red uses his actions to show his love for Eric. And even though he never said it much, you could always tell by what he was doing that he cared.
Another candidate on Paste’s naughty list, Homer Simpson is a pretty great father. He’s not really very smart or mature, but he’s a man who tries to learn from his mistakes. You can often see him making an effort to do a better job, and you know he does it because of how much his family matters to him. He may not always do the right thing, but his heart is always in the right place.
John Ritter plays the well-meaning, protective father to two teenage girls and a boy. He personifies the feelings of most men who have to raise daughters. He wants them to be safe, and spends a lot of energy learning to trust in their own abilities to function in the world as independent women. But he’s also right there when they need him, which is often.
Brenda and Brandon’s dad on the original 90210 was an old-fashioned kind of father with the parenting sensibilities of Ward Cleaver if the Beav was a teenager in modern-era Beverly Hills. Jim Walsh was everything a father should be: Understanding, fair, knowledgeable and moral. He wasn’t phased by conflict or change; he seemed to know how to handle any type of situation.
Yeah, he may be a goody-two-shoes, and he raised a whole family of goody-two-shoes, which is unrealistic, not to mention a little obnoxious. But it’s undeniable that he was an awesome TV dad. Like Goofy, Danny Tanner was widowed and having to raise children on his own, though thankfully he had help from a couple of longtime friends. His children were his whole life, and that showed in every episode, usually ending with an important lesson for one of his eager-to-please daughters.
The most wonderful balance of cool guy and family man, Jason Seaver made Growing Pains one of the best sitcoms of its time. He was really tuned into his kids, always knowing when they were up to something, and knowing exactly how to discipline them for it so they would learn their lesson. He also was really good about knowing what they needed and doing whatever he could to help them out.
It’s hard to deny that Bill Cosby’s Dr. Huxtable is the best of all the TV dads. He’s the funniest, for sure, and the way he’s always playing tricks on his kids is endearing. He was not afraid to be a hardass when he needed to be, either. He was an active part of his kids’ lives, and he was a dad who they were never afraid to go to with problems or questions.