Out there, amidst the litany of movie and TV dads too stupid to change a diaper, there are a rare few shining Pillars of Fatherhood.
Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when American families do their best to convince fathers everywhere (in America) that, yes, they are just as important as mothers.* Sure, American families, whatever you say. You can try and tell me you see dads as smart, loving, and competent, but Douchebag Freaky Friday, I mean The Change Up, says otherwise.
But all is not lost! Out there, amidst the litany of movie and TV dads too stupid to change a diaper, there are a rare few shining Pillars of Fatherhood. Let us take this day, a full three days before Father’s Day, to celebrate the best dads America has to offer: those from TV shows.
Benjamin Sisko, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
I know, I know, “Star Trek!” you say. I can hear your eyeballs rolling all the way from the Gamma Quadrant. But listen, Star Trek is awesome — I should know, I’ve watched all of it that exists. So you can trust me when I say this: Deep Space Nine is the best of the Star Treks. Some might even say it was “important.”
Not only was Benjamin Sisko the first black lead in a Star Trek series, but he was also a single parent! Crazy for the 1990s/2370s! Keeping an eye on an adolescent whose best friend is a Ferengi is no small task. Especially, on top of your duties as commander of a space station. That’s right, commander. It took Sisko THREE FREAKING SEASONS to be promoted to captain. What’s up with that BS?! Does the Federation of Planets have an ACLU, or what?
But seriously, there’s this one episode involving alternate timelines and the bonds between a father and son — bonds that STRETCH THROUGH SPACETIME. Augh, I’m feeling emotions just thinking about it.
So next time you and your friends are arguing over who’s the best Star Trek captain, don’t go for the easier answers. Sure Picard is honorable, Kirk*** is charmingly misogynistic, but only one captain is a dad and a badass: Sisko.
William Adama, Battlestar Galactica
Hooray, more sci-fi! Even if you’re too cool for school and won’t watch Star Trek (your loss), you’ve probably seen Battestar Galactica. If you haven’t what are you waiting for; every single episode is on Netfilx available to Watch Instantly — no excuses.
In Battestar‘s post-apocalyptic universe Adama, “the Old Man,” is humanity’s last, best, and only, hope for survival. Yeah he’s in charge of all the guns, soldiers, and space ships, but he’s also in charge of the people, man. And the people, including his hotshot fighter pilot son Apollo (love him — sometimes). Hey, just like a real life dad!
The best part about William Adama is how real he is. He makes mistakes, he gets drunk, he yells at his son and then feels bad about it — sometimes. There’s an unforgettable scene where after learning a TERRIBLE TRUTH the Old Man collapses, sobbing uncontrollably. His son finds him crumpled on the floor, and together the two of them work that shit out.
So say we all!
Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Disclaimer: The wife and I are only midway through season two of Friday Night Lights, so maybe I should dial back my love for Coach Eric Taylor. OR MAYBE I SHOULD DIAL IT UP TO ELEVEN.
FNL is all about high school football in Dillon, Texas where, regardless of who you are, your relationship with your dad sucks. With so many fatherless teens running around constantly trying to ruin their lives (they’re like toddlers, really), Taylor becomes Dillon’s communal dad. He does it all, with aplomb, while coaching up those Dillon Panthers and making a run at State.
Much like Adama, Coach Taylor is refreshingly authentic. His forward-thinking wife (for Dillon anyway) constantly challenges his conventions, and the resulting husband-wife conversations, had in a charming Texas drawl, are some of the most realistic I’ve seen on TV. However, I can only speculate on the real-world accuracy of the relationship between him and his daughter, but man do teenagers look terrifying!
He’s also has one of the best “use your brain!” dad faces.
Keith Mars, Veronica Mars
Another single father (ten years after DS9, by the way), another awesome dad! Mars is the sheriff of a both exceedingly rich and exceedingly poor California town…at least until he botches a major investigation. So, Mars becomes an outcast private detective and his daughter becomes an outcast-by-association. Oh, she’s also a private detective too. It’s adorable!
Both father and daughter get into all kind of dangerous mixups, narrowly escape, and stumble home to find that the other has a warm bowl of spaghetti waiting. Slumping into the cushions of a couch after a long day of crime fighting and eating a bowl of pasta with dad is pretty much the picture of “home.”
Lifetime achievement award winner: Cliff Huxtable, The Cosby Show
I asked my various social networks to weigh in on their favorite TV dads and the overwhelming majority said Cliff Huxtable. Remember that time he gave birth to a six-foot long hoagie? Craaazy! But, The Cosby Show isn’t something I’ve watched a lot of in my life — I spent all my time watching Star Trek!
Here’s to Dr. Huxtable: the lifetime achievement award! Which, let’s be honest, is for the guy who while both hilarious and heartwarming hasn’t done much recently. So, there. I acquiesce to you, social network.
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While pulling this piece together I ended up with a nice complementary list of Bad
Dudes Dads. I won’t go into why these guys suck — mostly because we already hear plenty about sucky dads**** and also because Positive Mental Attitude, guys!
- Leland Palmer, Twin Peaks
- Firelord Ozai, Avatar: The Last Airbender
- George Bluth, Arrested Development
- Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock
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* While writing this I Googled “mother’s day” and “father’s day”, prepared to pwn the lot of you with how much more popular Mother’s Day is in our collective consciences. But, behold! Google returns 147 million results for “mother’s day” and 323 million for “father’s day”. This is obviously because dads are awesome.**
**Or, it might be because whenever Father’s Day rolls around the entirety of the internet collectively exclaims “shit!” and races off to Google “what the heck do you get your dad on Father’s Day?“
***I’d put Archer over Kirk, but that’s just me.
****Also, some would be major spoilers.