10 Lessons We Learned from TV Dads
The perfect dad is, of course, a made-up one. A dad you could mute whenever you wanted — except why would you want to when he always doles out his advice with deadpan delivery, well-written wisdom or the perfect punchline? In other words, TV dads are the most perfect dads of all.
Perhaps that’s why their most memorable life lessons are forever burned into our boob tube-addicted brains. Like the following ten — each a memorable TV scene in its own right — that we present to you here in honor of Father’s Day. Many are unintentionally funny, a few are flat-out hilarious, and all illustrate that when it comes to TV, father knows best.
1. The real world sucks, ‘The Cosby Show’
On ‘The Cosby Show,’ when son Theo (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) bragged that life as an adult would be a breeze — become a model, get a nice pad, some snazzy duds, no problem — dad Dr. Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) enlisted the entire family to teach the boy a lesson, turning their townhouse into a miniature “real world,” complete with an overpriced, unfurnished apartment, a ruthless modeling agency and a no-free-meals family diner. It’s classic ‘Cosby Show,’ but the best part of this plot may be all the fake names. Cosby’s landlord character, for example, was Harley Weewax.
2. “WTF” means “Why the face?,” ‘Modern Family’
‘Modern Family’ father Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) is obsessed with being a “cool dad,” so he’s got all the lingo — and ‘High School Musical’ dance moves — down cold. Including WTF “WTF” means in textspeak.
3. Beds are made for unmaking, ‘All in the Family’
One of the most memorable scenes in ‘All in the Family’ history — and one of the few times that Meathead (Rob Reiner) actually appreciated the advice he got from father-in-law Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor). Who would’ve thought that Meathead was such a fussy Niles when it came to keeping his bedclothes neat?
4. When it comes to bras, “the D is the biggest,” ‘Seinfeld’
George Costanza (Jason Alexander) gets all “serenity now!” in this episode of ‘Seinfeld’ when forced to listen to dad Frank (Jerry Stiller), who snagged a job interview for George as a bra salesman, wax on about the finer details of women’s undergarments. Of course, the elder Costanza would go on to co-invent the Manzier (or was it the Bro?) with Kramer, so when it comes to ladies’ lingerie, he’s clearly master of his domain.
5. Never try, ‘The Simpsons’
For 23 seasons of ‘The Simpsons,’ dad Homer has served as a walking fatherly example of what not to do. It’s rare when he actually spoon-feeds Bart and Maggie paternal advice, and this clip illustrates why: Because when he does, even sadistic weasel Bart finds it a bummer.
6. If you drink too much, then you get moody and stupid and you say things you don’t mean, ‘My Two Dads’
That’s what double-dadded daughter Nicole (Staci Keanan) says she’s learned when her pair of papas, Michael (Paul Reiser) and Joey (Greg Evigan), decide to teach her a lesson about the perils of drinking by downing a bottle of Scotch right in front of her. ‘My Two Dads’ may have been a classic of the ’80s-sitcom canon, but by the end of this plot, things take a turn towards unintentionally hilarious, Tennessee Williams-style melodrama.
7. Stamp collecting is boring, ‘Family Guy’
Like Homer Simpson, ‘Family Guy”s Peter Griffin is another animated pop not known for sitting down with his kids, taking them by the hand and showing them the ways of the world. Because when he does, evidently, someone always ends up dead.
8. Mime driving is just like real driving, ‘Family Ties’
Since the days of ‘Father Knows Best’ and the Beav, no other sitcom has thrived on lesson-delivering plotlines like ‘Family Ties.’ In this classic ep, dad Steven Keaton (Michael Gross) believes the best way to teach daughter Jennifer (Tina Yothers) to drive is to first simulate the behind-the-wheel experience in the family’s kitchen. Get a load of his fey driving gear — this is the 1980s, Dad, not the 1920s!
9. Everybody does “it,” ‘Roseanne’
Unlike dad Dan Conner (John Goodman) in this classic ‘Roseanne’ clip, we’ll come right out and say what “it” is — erm, it’s, you know, self-uh… touching, um… it’s about being “master of your domain,” right George Costanza?
10. British nannies can’t really fly, ‘Arrested Development’
Actually, that would be a lesson that ‘Arrested Development’ dad Tobias Funke (David Cross) teaches himself — and learns the hard way.