Television has more or less skewed our image of what the perfect dad should be, and at times, even who it should be. No matter how many programs I watch, I have always remembered these three fathers as my ultimate favorites. They all hold a place in my heart that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I will share with you today my favourite dads from shows that all ended in the mid-2000s or earlier (in no particular order): one of the fathers in That ’70s Show’s, FRIENDS’ very own father to two and Freaks And Geeks’ pops to two, as well.
That ’70s Show
For eight entire years, television was blessed with the wit, sarcasm and hidden love that encompassed good old Reginald Forman – or better known simply as Red. Kurtwood Smith’s portrayal of an ex-military man, boss from hell and closed father is borderline perfect, if not completely. From what TV has taught me, it is that the man of the house (if it is, indeed, the legitimate father as opposed to an assumed position from a child) that must stand tall and proud, always, and never allow a tear to drop from either eye.
Red nearly never smiles, at least at his “weak” son Eric, but despite the implications of physical abuse, it is never committed on screen. Nevertheless, Red chooses a different method as to how to abuse his son: verbally. I’m almost certain that the line Red says the most in the entire eight seasons is that his foot would be kicking Eric in the bum. For instance, in the second season, after Eric parks his car, Red says: “It’s funny how you always manage to pull up the car right up to the garage, but not in it,” to which Eric replies: “Yeah. It takes a keen eye and a sure foot.” Red goes on to say: “Would you like your keen eye to watch my sure foot kick your smart ass?”
The jokes between Red and Eric are great, of course, but what makes for a true relationship is some love. Indeed, at one point in their lives, Eric says to his father “I love you too, daddy.” A small smile creeps up on Red’s face but he kindly tells his son to stop being weird. At the end of the day, despite all of the put-downs Eric must endure, he knows, and Red knows, that there exists a real, true, fundamental love in between them.
Jack Geller, Jack Geller, oh Jack Geller. Truly a superstar in my books. He is the father to both Monica and Ross on the show. This character happens to share traits the other fathers have; for example being funny, blunt and straightforward. However, one thing that Jack has exclusive from the other fathers is an easy-going nature and can often be quite inappropriate.
Meet the Gellers!
The relationship between Monica and her father is interesting. Although both him and his wife evidently (although never explicitly stated) prefer their son Ross over her, Jack is much nicer to her than his wife. However, that is not seen here: In season five’s flashback Thanksgiving episode, it begins with Judy (Jack’s wife) shoving plates of pies in her daughter’s face because “there was no more room in the fridge.” Monica, after just indirectly being called fat by one of Ross’ friends, says no. Jack then starts with glee: “Well, Judy, you did it. She’s finally full!” Monica is semi-protected by her father in a season one scene: Judy, while talking about Rachel, states that she had the opportunity to leave a man waiting at the altar. Monica demands what she means and when she gets “it’s an expression” as a response, Monica states that it is, in fact, not. This is when Jack comes in and states: “Don’t listen to your mother. You’re independent and you always have been. Even when you were a kid, and you were chubby and you had no friends, you were just fine! And you’d read alone in your room, and [do] your puzzles…” While trying to be supportive, Jack simply does not come off one hundred percent in that tone. Jack has a sweet nickname for Monica, though – he calls her little Harmonica.
When Monica and Chandler are trying to have a baby, Jack steps in with some baby-making advice that could be deemed a little inappropriate. Other than the discomfort and unknowingly joking/hurtful things that come out of Jack’s mouth, he never ceases to not be there for Ross and Mon.
Freaks And Geeks
Seven hundred and fifty-six minutes. That’s how long it took the world (or, at least me) to truly recognize the love held between Harold Weir and his two kids Sam and Lindsay. Mr. Weir was played by Joe Flaherty for an entire season on NBC. Flaherty was expected to play the role of a father, husband and business owner in a small town, and that is exactly what he did. Harold is honestly one of the funniest characters I have ever seen on TV. He not only has a boatload of life experience, but he knows a ton of people who have died due to pre-marital sex and telling lies. At least, that’s what he tells his kids.
Harold: You’re not lying, are you, Sam?
Harold: ‘Cause you know what happens to liars in this world, don’t you?
Sam: They end up getting killed in jail.
Indeed, when asked if any of his friends are still alive, he blatantly says “the smart ones.” Evidently, Harold has taught his child well. Not only in matters regarding prisons, but he offers political knowledge as well. “You know,” Harold states, “everyone’s a Democrat until they get a little money. Then they come to their senses.”
Harold displays ‘classic’ father traits – strong-headed, breadwinner, silently (but surely) loving, and a man who simply wants to protect his kids from the outside world. Also, he is extremely awkward when it comes to consoling individuals. When one of Lindsay’s friends bursts into tears, he uncomfortably pats her shoulder with a simple: there, there. Harold truly portrays a classic, 1999 father.
Here’s a fan-made commemoration.
These dads may not be the ideal, minivan-driving cookie-cutter ones, but they demonstrate certain natures that we all come to love – eventually. Despite the jokes and often incompetence displayed by these men, they are fully committed to their children and desire nothing more than complete happiness for their kids.
Have you ever met a father quite like Red, Jack or even Harold? Perhaps yours perfectly matches Jack’s description. Indeed, do you think these fathers are better representations of people than in reality itself?
- Undeclared – Hal Karp (Loudon Wainwright III)
- Samantha Who? – Howard Newly (Kevin Dunn)
- $#*! My Dad Says – Ed Goodson (William Shatner)