What’s up with TV Dad stereotype? I see a lot of t.v. shows and movies where the main character’s father is usually out of the picture, pays no attention to his kids, or he’s completely oblivious. Then something in the plot happens and he’s forced to turn into one of the three following types of dad:
This guy punches and kicks his way through movies like “Taken”, “The Incredibles”, “Air Force One”, and “Live Free Or Die Hard”. At some point, the kid protagonist needs saving by his or her over-protective father. Maybe they’re the hero, maybe they only show up every once in a while, but when Dad arrives, he’s there to beat the crap out of whoever is trying to hurt his kid.
Usually shown as an absentee father who tries to take his kids somewhere spectacular to show his affection. Divorced Dad doesn’t spend time with his kids, so he spends money on them instead. Nine times out of ten, this backfires and blows up in his face. By the end of the next ninety minutes, he’s learned a valuable lesson in family values, reconnected with his kids, and got married to Candace Cameron Bure.
Also, a big theme is this type of story is that Dad is more dedicated to his job than his family. Most dads I know cared less than ever about their job after having a kid but they also realize that they need the job more than ever. That’s what makes this guy so unrealistic. What Dad isn’t already spending all his money on his kid?
Bumbling Dad –
This guy is the most offensive stereotype, in my eyes. Straight out of TV Land, Bumbling Dad is a deliberate caricature of standard 50’s fathers from shows like “Leave It To Beaver” and “The Andy Griffith Show”. This type of character has become so universal that we don’t even realize how many times he pops up: The Simpsons, Family Guy, Last Man Standing, the list goes on.
This character has become the American stereotype of fatherhood and it’s a little embarrassing. How many actual Dads do you know who seems like a real-life Homer Simpson? Do you see me eating donuts every day? Bex don’t answer that. What about falling asleep in front of the t.v.? Bex don’t answer that either. At least I’m not constantly creating a disaster that I’ll heroically clean up later. At this point, Bex has walked away in disgust.
Another inaccuracy I have found with t.v. dads are although he can be clever, he’s not usually allowed to be smart and he never learns from his mistakes. Kind of like me, whenever I take the dog and Boy Wonder out for a walk at the same time. I always seem to forget what a juggling act it becomes. Or how about when I wake up early, decide to get some cleaning done, and every time, without fail, Boy Wonder becomes whiney and I have to drop everything for him.
Bumbling Dad is usually portrayed as a fat, lazy, alcoholic. First of all, you’re only an alcoholic when drinking becomes a problem. Trust me, I’ll have no problem drinking my next beer, or the one after that.
Why do audiences find this buffoon endearing when he’s nothing like a real-world dad? Well, maybe he does have one similarity to us. It’s the one thing these t.v. writers seem to get right time and time again. Bumbling dad is motivated by his love and loyalty to his family. He may not be bright. He can often be heard making a crude and insensitive joke. But I think we can all relate to, every now and then, Bumbling Dad may not have his family’s respect but he has their love.
Maybe Father doesn’t always know best but he tries. So c’mon t.v. writers give dads some love too. I’d love to see a show about a superhero father trying to do right by his wife and kids, where he isn’t the butt of every laziness joke. Until then, I’ll be out back, taking a nap in my hammock. Bex, if you’re reading this, could you bring me a glass of lemonade?