Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the patriarchal figures in our lives who have helped to mould us into the people we are today. Of course, by patriarchal figure I’m not just talking about the man who has ferried you around to music lessons, sports games and parties since you were a child, fed you, clothed you, taught you everything you know and forgiven you for getting in the way of his dreams! No, I’m also talking about every other father figure that imparts knowledge and influence over us...our television fathers!
Not one of us can say that we haven’t come to love and admire at least one television dad over the years, and with that in mind, I would like to celebrate Father’s Day 2013 by counting down my top 10 television dads!
10. Sandy Cohen (The O.C)
A cooler-than-ice dad with one birth son, Seth, and one adoptive son, Ryan, in FOX network’s The O.C (2003-7). A high-flying lawyer by trade, I learnt so much as a teenager from the moral and emotional guidance he gave to his sons and their various misfit friends...but who’s dad actually looks like this!?
9. Mitchell Pritchett (Modern Family)
The first Modern Family dad to appear in this countdown, Jesse Tyler-Ferguson’s “Mitchell” is an uptight, overcautious dad to adopted daughter, Lilly. He is quietly proud of his homosexuality and sets a good moral example to his daughter by responding to homophobia and other injustices by giving impromptu speeches.
8. Pete Brockman (Outnumbered)
Constantly outnumbered by his two sons, Jake and Ben, and daughter, Karen, Pete Brockman, played by comedian Hugh Dennis, made me appreciate quite how much hard work fatherhood could be. Outnumbered gave me a new respect for my own dad, who thankfully doesn’t have an over-inquisitive 5 year old daughter, but has raised four extremely active boys.
7. Hal Wilkerson (Malcolm In The Middle)
A dysfunctional family of four boys, one living away from home, and a dad who had been ‘tamed’ by his wife, but who occasionally broke down into the child he really was...watching Malcolm in the Middle was like watching our lives on TV. I loved Bryan Cranston long before he started Breaking Bad!
6. Cameron Tucker (Modern Family)
The second of my TV dads from ABC’s hit comedy Modern Family, Cameron Tucker (played by Eric Stonestreet) is a larger-than-life rather camp dad who “can’t turn it off” as he holds his newly adopted daughter aloft like Rafiki welcoming the Lion King, Simba. He’s made it onto my list because he fulfills both paternal and maternal needs for his daughter...between dressing her as pop icons for home photo shoots.
5. Mark Sloan (Diagnosis Murder)
Any dad who writes a TV show like Diagnosis Murder so that his own son can become an actor, even despite the fact that his son has no discernible acting talent, is a great dad in my eyes. The fact that Dick Van Dyke’s character, Mark Sloan, is also the father of hapless detective Steve Sloan, played by Dick’s son Barry Van Dyke, is the icing on the cake.
4. Smithy (Gavin and Stacey)
Affable chappy and accidental father, Gavin and Stacey’s Smithy, written and played by the brilliant James Corden, places highly on my list due to his determination to be a good father. Too young to be seriously considering parenthood, and facing both geographical and emotional obstacles, Smithy does all he can to be the father he never had. While he wouldn’t be on a list of potential replacements for my own father, I have to respect his attitude.
3. Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)
Homer Simpson will never win dad of the year, but this moronic yellow lager lout, who strangles his eldest son almost daily and neglects his gifted daughter, certainly does try hard. And he must be doing something right, as his infant daughter Maggie keeps stepping in to save his life from mobsters, tow truck drivers and the Environmental Protection Agency. Homer makes it to number 3 on this list because he showed me everything that my own dad is not!
2. Ross Geller (Friends)
While in series 9 and 10 of NBC sitcom Friends we watched Ross and Rachel get to grips with parenthood, we sometimes forget that Ross had been a father since series 1, to Ben. Ross, played by David Schwimmer, makes it to number 2 on my list purely because, for lack of a better costume, he dressed as the ‘Holiday Armadillo’ in order to teach his son about the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. Great parenting!
1. Phil Dunphy (Modern Family)
And so my TV dad of choice is the final entry from NBC’s hit comedy Modern Family: the goofy, wannabe-hip, ex college cheerleader Phil Dunphy is the dad all other dads want to be with his so-called brand of “peerenting”, combining friendship, outdated slang and ‘juice bars’ with traditional parenting methods....oh, and he knows all the dance moves to High School Musical!
Father's Day 2013 is on Sunday 16th June.