Why does TV hate dads so much? I’m not talking about the awful Seth Green show, although I could be because this show is not friendly to dads and everyone hates that show (except Fox who has even ordered more episodes). I’m talking about dad. TV just hates them. It wasn’t always that way but it’s been this way for quite a long time. Remember Bill Cosby? He’s probably the most famous of TV dads. Remember when his show was on? It ran from 1984 to 1992. It’s been off the air for over 20 years. Quick, name me 3 current TV dads. I bet you can come up with 3 pretty easily. Now tell me, are they idiots? I would bet that they are. Now quick, name me 3 dads who are on TV right now who aren’t portrayed as complete idiots. I bet you can’t do that. I would bet that 2 of the 3 or maybe even all 3 of the dads you give me are shown mostly to be idiots. Head inside for more of a discussion on why does TV hate dads.
I’ve been irritated with this dads issue for a while now. I did a list of TV’s best dads a few months ago and I mentioned how most dads are shown to be idiots and it’s rare to find a TV dad who isn’t a moron. It’s not gotten any better this TV season.
Let me give you an example. Have you watched The Millers on CBS? Overall it’s not a bad show. I actually like it. It’s been doing well enough in the ratings even for CBS to order more episodes so it’s not in danger of being cancelled. While it’s a funny show, I have a major problem with one aspect of the show. How they treat Beau Bridges’ character Tom Miller. Tom Miller is the father of this family who announces that he wants a divorce after 43 years of being married. He says that he only stayed married for the kids and after finding out that one of his kids got divorced, then he didn’t need to fake it any more.
Now what happens to Tom Miller after he gets divorced? Well he is completely incapable of handling himself. The show has now turned in to a comedy of showing how incompetent Tom Miller is. He can’t use a microwave, he can’t dress himself, he can’t feed himself, he can’t remember to take his medication, he can’t use the washing machine, he can’t do anything. In the most recent episode, the writers even acknowledged that they had to explain how Tom Miller could have been such a successful businessman while being so incapable of even handling the most basic of functions. The secret? He had a secretary that took care of everything for him of course. Yes that had to be it. There is one point in this show where they do a joke about Tom trying to fold his own clothes and does it so badly that he gets his head stuck in a turtleneck. Really? I’ll admit that I’m not the best at folding clothes either but to be so incompetent that my head gets stuck? Come on.
The treatment of Tom Miller is just one example. How about another CBS hit show, The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams? Poor Sydney Roberts (Sarah Michelle Gellar). She has to put up with her crazy dad. How does she do it? She is a saint. In one episode this season, they are remembering when Simon Roberts (Robin Williams) was teaching his daughter how to drive. The dad is shown to teach his daughter how to drive in the most terrifying way possible putting her in danger and in general being an idiot. While I’m sure there are dads out there as dumb as this situation shown, is it really so common that it should be on TV? If it’s not common, why is it there? What are the writers trying to show with this situation? Are they making Williams more or less likable or trying to make you sympathetic to the poor daughter who has had to deal with crazy for so long?
Let me give you one more example from current TV. This one is a regularly used TV trope but with a twist. The single dad. Oh my god. Dads can’t raise kids! Let’s make a show about it and watch the hilarity ensue. Local Glen Ellyn boy Sean Hayes stars in Sean Saves the World on NBC. The twist to this show is that the dad, played by Hayes, is gay and finds out that he has a teenage daughter that he didn’t know about. If you read that and thought to yourself “what, that is a comedy gold mine” you are not alone. I mean really. First, we all have learned from single dads on TV that they are incapable of raising kids, let alone girls. Come on. Dads can’t do that. And now the dad in question is gay AND trying to raise a teenage girl? Come on now. How can we not laugh at that right? Thankfully we’ve come a long way as a country that we can even have a show with this as a topic but imagine for a second if the genders were reversed. If we had a single lesbian woman raising a 14 year old boy do you think there would be outrage over the treatment of the woman?
I could go on and on about all the bad dads and dad figures on TV. It’s rare to find any dads that aren’t always shown to be complete morons, let alone even being shown a tiny bit positively. I asked you earlier if you could think of 3 TV dads who aren’t morons. Were you able to think of any? I have two for you. Continue to page 2 to see if you and I agree.