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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who's Your Daddy!

From single dad Andy Griffith to the mother of all wise fathers Jim Anderson, TV dads in the fifties and sixties set the bar for fathers in households across North America.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson played fictional characters modelled after their real selves as did their real life sons, David and Ricky. Harriet, she who vacuumed in high heels, was the glue that held her family together. Ozzie was portrayed as ineffectual and bumbling in his attempts to steer his sons along the right path. Harriet would, more often than not, have to rescue him from from the consequences of his own overzealous behaviour. Oddly enough, in spite of (or maybe because of) Ozzie's portrayal of clown father, the Nelsons were embraced as the epitome of the average American nuclear family.

Father Knows Best

Another dubious head of household was Jim Anderson, as portrayed by Robert Young. Never intending the lead character to be taken too seriously, the production team of Robert Young and Eugene B. Rodney based the series on experiences they both had with wives and children which injected a sense of reality. Father didn't always know best, was actually capable of losing his temper and could also be proven wrong.

The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Taylor lost Opie's momma when he was "The least little speck of a baby". Having been raised by Aunt Bee himself, he and Opie share their home with her. They live the idyllic small town life where Andy works as Sheriff, afternoons are whiled away with Opie at the fishin' hole and evenings are spent rocking on the front porch. Andy Taylor was depicted as a fair minded and easy going law enforcement official and equally applied his folk-wisdom in his profession as well as in the raising of his son. Corny, but sweet, one often had the sense that Andy Taylor was modelled entirely after the lead actor - just as the town of Mayberry was modelled after Andy Griffith's home town.

Leave It To Beaver

Oh, that Beaver! Unlike competitive family sitcoms of the time, Leave It To Beaver featured the children as the focal point for the show instead of the parents. If the Nelsons were epitomized as the average American nuclear family, then the Cleavers were the family to aspire to be. Ward and June were the selfless, loving parent team nurturing their children through small victories and many moral lessons. The boys would doubtless find themselves in one dilemma or another and by the show's end Ward would be tabling a kindly lecture while June was tabling dinner.

TV dads have changed much over the years. Bill Cosby is said to have portrayed the best TV father in family sitcom history. Cartoon character Homer Simpson is most often named the worst (though I don't think anyone, real or imagined, can be worse than the dad on Family Guy ). On television, just as in real life, dads will always be there. As breadwinner, as disciplinarian, as friend and mentor. As spoiler of daughters and buddy to sons. Through good times, through tears, a dad never stops playing his role. Its too bad there's only one special day in the year set aside to honor him. He probably deserves more for all that grey hair he claims you're responsible for.

Who's Your (TV) Daddy!

Which TV father is yours most like? Take the quiz and, if you want to share (we want you to share - we do!), reply with your result in our comments section!

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