Top TV Dads
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Here's a continuing look at TV's top 13 dads: In chronological order-from the 1950s cardigan-wearing, "Father Knows Best" types to the 21st century guys juggling dysfunctional families and questionable careers.
One of TV's first African American fathers, Heathcliff Huxtable also broke paternal ground in The Cosby Show (1984-1993) for his dual-income earning family. The high-powered couple (Cliff was an OB-GYN, wife Clair a corporate attorney) resonated with American viewers, who were eager to see an image of their own family's working status - rather than TV land's persistence in the passé norm of the housewife mom. Together, the joke-cracking Cliff and straight-laced Clair raised their five kids, ranging in age from preschool to high school, in their Brooklyn brownstone.
Steven Keaton (played by Michael Gross) was the liberal, loving dad to three in Family Ties (1982-1989). Both Steven and wife Elyse were former flower children trying to reconcile their now suburban lifestyle with a soulful quest to "do good" in the world. Steven found an outlet for his altruism in his career - running the public TV station; but at home, this former hippy was constantly foiled by eldest son Alex "P." Keaton, a hard-core Reagan Republican.
Dan Connor (played by John Goodman) was the rotund, beer swigging, blue-collar husband and father on the comedy Roseanne (1988-1997). Frequently confounded by his three kids, Dan also struggled to figure out who really "wore the pants" in his blue-collar family: himself or his wise-cracking wife Roseanne.
Speaking of less-than-perfect dads, Homer Simpson has cornered the market on underachieving. As The Simpsons's (1989-present) animated patriarch, Homer personifies bumbling ineptitude in everything he does - from his botched attempts at raising his three kids to his rather ironic job as safety inspector at the local nuclear plant. The longest run show on TV, with characters that have never aged, The Simpsons offers America a satirical, politically incorrect family and one of the most enduring iconic cultural references.
Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor
Tim Taylor (played by Tim Allen) was Home Improvement's (1991-1999) goofy handyman and blundering father to three sons. Fortunately for the Tool Man - as Tim was called on his successful cable DIY show - he was able to count on his ever-patient wife Jill and his sage-like neighbor Wilson for guidance on everything from parenthood to politics.
Ray Barone (played by comedian Ray Romano) was the Italian-American, sportswriter dad to three on Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005). Set in Long Island, the show featured the complicated (some might say: dysfunctional) family dynamics between the dopey but well-intentioned Ray; his long-suffering wife Debra; his gruff but good-hearted father Frank; and his meddling, passive aggressive mother Marie. And many were the opportunities for conflict between them, since Ray and Debra lived right across the street from Frank and Marie.
Now here's a killer dad! Anthony "Tony" Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) was no Ward Cleaver, but he's definitely the most powerful dad on this list. The ruthless Underboss of a New Jersey crime family, Tony seemed to genuinely love his wife (if you can look past his rampant infidelity) and his two teenage kids. But between his depression and anxiety attacks (and borderline sociopath personality), Tony struggled to find his footing in fatherhood - or marriage and any other genuine relationship, for that matter.
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