Lessons from TV dads

Hey Dad!

This Father's Day, as I prepare to sit without fear of retribution on my favourite couch, remote in hand and ready for some well earned love and attention, it occurred to me that my day of indulgence in front of the tele could be somewhat educational.

You see, there's a lot to be learnt from those unsung heroes of the small screen- our favourite TV dads.

A quick phone around to the father's group uncovered a diverse selection of inspiration and it seems there's a little bit of all these dads in each of us.

Take Ray from Everyone loves Raymond or Hal, the long suffering husband of Lois in Malcolm in the Middle, Both these men are arguably the most hen-pecked creatures on television. Ray was even dumb enough to buy a house across the road from his mother! They both however, regularly come up with new and innovative ways to scam an extra game of golf, day at the race track or night out with the boys. You have to admire that!

If you go further back, legendary fathers like Ward Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver and Howard Cunningham from Happy Days made it look so easy. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact their wives never left the house had a three course meal waiting for them on the table as they walked through the door. Sure there was a bit of yelling every now and again but if it got your pipe and slippers bought to the table who cares!

There are dads for all family situations and there is obvious inspiration for the solo dads like Steve Douglas who brought up My Three Sons, and Tony Micelli from Who's the Boss. And let's not forget the champion of all dads - Mr Mike Brady who didn't even crease his well ironed safari suit at the thought of six teenagers in the house. Admirable to say the least.

Our tele-dads can even transcend macho stereotypes to bring out our hidden softer side. Look at Danny Tanner surviving with a bunch of mates and three daughters on the very daggy eighties classic Full House, and I have one drinking buddy (who shall remain nameless through fear of serious injury for admitting to such soppiness) who rates "the bloke from Little House on the Prairie" (Charles Ingalls) as his all time favourite dad. He'd work on the farm all day but still be home in time to read Moby Dick by lantern light to his little Laura.

We can also admire TV dads for their ability to cope with the often torturous demands of the opposite sex. We weep for the toils of the Desperate Housedads, and cringe as one for Mr Sheffield when the Nanny goes at him. Admittedly though, trying to bring up three children is made a lot easier when you have a butler and a nanny and money is no option. And as for Rosanne's husband, the poor Dan, well he should just be admired for making it to the end of the series.

When we've had to face the struggle of balancing our careers with family life, our tele-dads have showed us the way too. President Jebediah Bartlett proved that running the West Wing was a walk in the park compared to bringing up his teenage daughter Zoe. Tim-the-Toolman Taylor was also a popular choice with the boys. It seems his underappreciated and overzealous handyman attempts are something everyone can relate to. Then there is the legendary Homer Simpson, whose philosophical insights into contemporary living have spawned a whole new language (all together now - "Doh!").

For me, its hard to go past Al Bundy in the show that says it all - Married...With Children. Sure, this might have something to do with Christina Applegate's staring role in the program, but there's something noble about the way he can shrug off a hopeless situation with a healthy dose of back humour, and solve all the woes of the world without ever having to leave his couch. It's also the fact that despite his fatal flaws, foibles and fumbles, he's just a great family man who tries hard and loves his kids. Just like we all do.

So lads, this Fathers Day, rock back on the couch, grab the remote and join me in tipping our tinnies to those role models which have guided our lives.

Woooh, Bundy!!!