An hour into my shift I was asked to stay late at work. I don't mind staying late--I love helping out overworked peers and I don't object to money--but I unfortunately have a streak of non adaptive throwback genes that wants to sit down and cry every time I'm not giving my preferred twelve hour notice that helps me wrap my head around the extension. Turns out I'm not remotely evolved or sophisticated, I hate breaks from patterns just as much as the most backwoods Ozark yokel.
In the spirit of making as many distractions for myself in this time of cushy paid hardships, I have crafted a list of:
The Top 15 Best TV Dads
I figure musing over father figures that would respond to my whining over extra work by telling me to rub some dirt in it will be the best possible coping mechanism.
The types of fathers being highlighted here are very specific in nature. First off, let's establish that I myself have an awesome dad. He sang me Irish lullabies and songs about girls named Mary every night when I was little, switched that out for nightly readings from books like Huckleberry Finn, The Chosen, and Last of the Mohicans after I got too old for songs, and patiently waited out my tendency from age twelve to twenty to hate his guts while in his house and avoid any visits from him in college. Nowadays he just reads my term papers and tells me I'm brilliant, politely declines to read my blog or be friends with me on facebook so that I don't have to censor myself, and doesn't give me any grief for being single other than occasionally abusing the general male gender on my behalf. He's not my friend, he's my dad, and I appreciate the attention to the distinction.
Like I said, great dad. So in the spirit of respect for fatherhood, there will be no representations of clueless dads who are roundly abused by spouse, neighbors, and children alike, such as Tim Taylor in Home Improvement. Also, any TV show where I have the "oh, yeah, he's a dad" moment is sort of an automatic disqualifier, like Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy. TV characters who are beloved and eccentric and truly terrible fathers also did not make this list--I'm looking at you, Red from That 70s Show and George Sr. from Arrested Development. Also, I will not even dignify Homer Simpson with the title of father. The number of online lists that cartoon gets onto makes me shudder. Also, and this is completely unfair, but when I find out too much about an actor's off-screen behavior while filming, perfectly likeable father characters like Danny Tanner from Full House are no longer palatable or listable.
An addendum to the methodology: We didn't have TV after I turned ten years old, and even when we did it was basic channels and closely monitored. If any glaringly obvious classic father figures are missing from the list, it's because I never got to watch the show. But I'm sure they're very nice. Put them on your own list, this one's mine.
And now, with plenty previous ado, we begin the countdown with
#15: John Schneider, Smallville's Jonathan Kent
|Mmm. Floppy haired goodness. I'm allowed to check him out--he's not my dad.|
Let's not kid ourselves. Being the dad of an alien would be hard work, even if he wasn't an indestructible god-like force. And being the dad to an indestructible god-like force would be a cake-walk if that same 'roid pumped snot face wasn't a broody little misfit who has a thing for the wrong girl almost as consistently as he's seduced by the dark, bald side of the force. Jonathan Kent pulls off moralisms with minimal fuss, is believable as a hay bale-throwing Midwesterner, and is . . . just so, so pretty. Wish he still had the The General Lee around, I wouldn't object to being taken for a spin.
#14: Jason Bateman, Arrested Development's Michael Bluth
I'll never be able to listen to "Afternoon Delight" with any kind of reverence. Not that I really could before
Michael has a lot on his plate. He has the most grasping, needy, neurotic extended family in the universe, and having his jailbird father squirrelled away in their faux home doesn't make things easier for him. And while his son, George Michael, is a peach, he's the type of pale, pudgy, hairless, cousin-lusting peach that repulses most normal people. But Michael Bluth loves him anyway, and even frequently has old-fashioned Opie-Andy moments that warm the heart.
#13: Nathan Fillion, Castle's title character
|O Captain, my Captain. Mine.|
Let's face it, Rick Castle--mega rich novelist with the emotional maturity and instinct for play of a fifteen-year-old boy--as your legal guardian and moral compass would be a dream. He is the epitome of self-indulgence and good humor, like a soft serve ice cream double dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with money. In fairness to the other dads, it must be acknowledged that he sorta caught an epic break by having a daughter so grounded and self-disciplined that I suspect government brainwashing. However, his handling of boyfriends and body image demonstrates an instinct for unconditional love that earns him his spot on the list.
#12: John Spencer, The West Wing's Leo McGarry
Leo is a fantastic example of a much more realistic school of Dad. While he excels at his job, he's crazy awkward in his home life. The way he deals with this is by frequently growing petulant and dismissive with his daughter Mallory while simultaneously trying to keep her close. He barks at Mallory much more often than he opens up to her, but he still finds ways to express his affection and protectiveness, even if she'd probably prefer to flirt with his staff in peace. Gruff around the edges and incapable of make a straight statement of love, Leo ranks high in the category of adored yet off-putting patriarchs.
#11: Michael Landon, Little House on the Prairie's Charles Ingalls
If you're starting to notice the trend of Magnificent Locks, this is not happenstance. And you ain't seen nothin' yet.
He's Pa. The infinitely kinder, wiser, more practical version of his wife, one who understands Laura's high spirits and doesn't discourage his daughters from thinking they can do absolutely anything they set their minds to. Always struggling to make ends meet, he infuses their desperately poor existence with magic, protecting his children from wild beasts and Nellie Blye (synonymous?) with a tireless concern for their welfare. And then there's the hair, which I could probably dedicate a whole section of this list to. Pa is not to be beat.
#10: Andy Griffith, The Andy Griffith Show's Sheriff Taylor
|Even his ears seem kind. And law-abiding.|
I couldn't claim the title of red-blooded American if I didn't acknowledge that Sheriff Taylor is the essence of Manliness. He's an officer of the law, he's a hulking figure of a man, he enjoys fishing, shootin' breeze at the local barber shop, and keeping Barney Fife in line. And above all else, he's the kindest, gentlest father to itty-bitty-Opie that anyone could ever hope for. Really, I think he could have accidentally squished him into oblivion if he wasn't so conscientious. He's the type that I'm sure cries every time he accidentally steps on a caterpillar. Except that Andy Taylor's are simultaneously so manly and so sweet that they produce harty maple syrup for his flapjacks.
Those eyebrows could kindly conquer continents. And my heart.