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Top Five 80s TV Dads

Cosby-sweater  Fathers Day is coming up this weekend, a time of year I find myself thinking a lot about those Coogi-sweatered, sensitive dads from prime time. Thus, consider this a special, Monday edition of Flashback Friday. Here are my top five dads of 80s TV:



1) Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show)

The-huxtables
 
I know I'm not alone in thinking Cliff Huxtable is tops when it comes to TV dads of the 80s, if not TV dads of all time. A busy obstetrician, Cliff still managed to be a present and proud father to four five kids (I always forget Sandra), a romantic and thoughtful partner for his wife, Claire, and a good son to his own mom and dad. My favorite Cliff Huxtable moment will always be his 49th anniversary present to his parents—a lip-sync performance of "Night Time is the Right Time" by Ray Charles featuring the whole family:

2) Steven Keaton (Family Ties)

Family-Ties
 
Steven Keaton earns the number two spot for putting up with an insufferable yuppie like Alex P. Keaton for a son. Seriously, how he never smacked that Reagan lovier on the mouth is beyond me. I guess hippies are supposed to be mellow and non-violent. Maybe a smack or two would have done Alex some good, though; I always imagine Alex growing up to become Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.


3) Henry Warnimont (Punky Brewster)

Henry-warnimont-punky-brewster
 
Henry was often gruff and at a loss for how to deal with a precocious pre-teen with a penchant for mis-matched socks, but he wins a top three spot for taking in an abandoned child and her dog, despite being considerably less flush than his upper-class counterpart, Daddy Warbucks. 

4) Jack Arnold (The Wonder Years)

The-wonder-yeras-arnold-family
 
Jack was another gruff dad with a soft underbelly, and probably one of the most realistic TV dads. Jack hated his job. Jack yelled at his kids. Jack didn't cry much or have a tender moment with sappy piano music every episode. In spite of that, there was no doubt that Jack he loved his family fiercely.

5) Dan Conner (Roseanne)

Dan-conner-john-goodman-roseanne-barr
 

Another blue collar dad, Dan was a drywall contractor who was often without work. Dan faced fatherhood with the kinds of working-class pressures the Huxtables and Keatons of primetime would never understand. Dan was plagued with a constant pressure to provide for his family, with the added frustration of a job market that often would not cooperate. At times throughout the show, Roseanne was the primary (or sole) breadwinner for the family, a circumstance that would at times make Dan feel like "less of a man." Dan was by no means perfect. Like Jack Arnold, he yelled at his kids and he didn't always say the right thing—just like your dad, I bet. Yes, he cheated on Roseanne later in the series, but this is a feature on favorite TV dads, not favorite TV husbands. The infidelity arc only served to further demonstrate that Dan represented a realistic but nevertheless loving and supportive father figure in a time when most TV dads would make you think only a dude with a six figure salary could be father of the year.







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Comments

Mighty Hunter

If I could be half the father that Dan Conner was on Roseanne, I would still be a pretty good father.

Fawn Amber

Excellent picks, all. I especially loved Dan Conner. He's the kind of dad I would have loved to have had.




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