In the world of humor, fathers have become the fail-safe target.
In television comedies and commercials, they are regularly depicted as out-of-touch with their families — and reality.
They are stubbornly behind the times, playing air guitar to old Styx 8-tracks instead of quietly nodding to the beats of Finger Eleven fed through ear buds and an iPod.
Is Dad cool? Only if you darn kids were playing with the thermostat again …
The equation seems to be “Dad + Idiocy = Comedy.”
It wasn’t always this way.
TV fathers used to be real patriarchs — Jim Anderson (“Father Knows Best”), Andy Taylor (“The Andy Griffith Show”) and even Mike Brady (“The Brady Bunch”) were sources of insight and inspiration for their families.
Today’s TV dad is epitomized by buffoons such as Homer Simpson (“The Simpsons”) and Peter Griffin (“Family Guy”).
Indeed, as TV critic Chuck Barney wrote last week: “(I)s there no middle ground? Over the years, the pendulum swung too far in the other direction, and somewhere along the way, Cliff Huxtable (‘The Cosby Show’) was replaced by Al Bundy (‘Married With Children’). Now, the typical sitcom dad is a doughy, good-natured but dimwitted goofball.”
Much like today’s political landscape, the realities of fatherhood exist closer to the middle than the edges. Dads may not have all the answers, but the good ones provide for their families even as they are mocked by those they support.
The words of reknown pianist Charles Wadsworth show that Dad’s plight has been an enduring one:
“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”