Fathers are rarely idealized on current television programs. Long gone are the days when programs like Father Knows Best filled the airwaves. Today, fathers are often portrayed as bumbling clowns at best…and as sadistic murderers at worst. As poorly as women and mothers are portrayed on TV, typically fathers are portrayed as even worse.
However, there are still a few programs that portray fathers in a good light. Below are a few TV fathers on current programming that treat fatherhood with a degree of respect, and show dads as admirable men.
Black-ish (ABC, Wednesdays 9:30 p.m. ET)
Andre “Dre” Johnson, Sr. (Anthony Anderson)
While Dre’s obsession with urging his children to appreciate their black heritage and the urban culture of his own youth forms much of the humor in this sitcom, Dre is also a model father: supportive of his wife and her career, loving and proud of his children (even when they differ from his expectations), respectful of his own father, and both a financial success and a positive influence on others in his own career.
Blue Bloods (CBS, Fridays 10 p.m.)
Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck)
A former beat cop and former detective, like his own father before him Frank Reagan is now Police Commissioner of New York City, a decisive, paternal figure with a strong moral center and a traditionally masculine manner. He’s proud of his adult children — all his sons are police officers, one of whom died in the line of duty, and his daughter’s an assistant district attorney — but Frank refuses to use the power of his office to advance their careers or cover up their bad decisions…though he will, on occasion, ask them to check out an investigation covertly, to keep him in touch with what’s happening “on the ground” in major cases. He cares about his kids but is also very good at allowing them to live their own adult lives without being overbearing, to the point that they all feel they can come to him for fair, unbiased advice. Above all, he’s the ultimate incorruptible cop. He’s an active Catholic and always has Sunday dinner with his entire family, all of them praying together before the meal.
Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg)
Frank’s second son and a crack police detective, Danny pushes the envelope in his job, impatiently skirting the rules and often getting rough with criminals; but when it comes to children, both his own and those he encounters in his cases, he’s much gentler. When one of his young sons witnesses a shooting and is traumatized, Danny talks him through his fear. Danny’s willing to help anyone in need, even old girlfriends – but he’s an entirely faithful husband deeply in love with his wife, and a devoted father who’ll do anything to protect his kids.
The Flash (CW, Tuesdays 8 p.m. ET)
Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp)
Henry is the biological father of Barry Allen, the man who becomes the superhero the Flash. Barry (and the audience) knows that his mother was murdered by a mysterious yellow blur; but because nobody believed little Barry, Henry was sent to prison for killing his wife. Though he wasn’t able to be there for his son as he grew up, the two have remained close. Barry has spent years trying to prove his father’s innocence, while Henry has urged Barry to forget about him and live his own life. Henry suspects Barry is the Flash, and uses his contacts in prison to get information for his son, suffering a brutal prison beating as a result.
Joe West (Jesse L. Martin)
Henry Allen’s next-door neighbor, Joe is also the police officer who investigated murder of Barry’s mother. He took Barry in and raised him, giving him an interest in police work, and serving as Barry’s surrogate father. The two remain close, with Joe one of the few people to know Barry Allen is the Flash. Joe alternately helps Barry on his Flash missions with his detective skills, and worries about his adopted son…and his own daughter Iris, whose work as a crime reporter often leads her into danger.
The Middle (ABC, Wednesdays 8 p.m. ET)
Mike Heck (Neil Flynn)
A put-upon provider, Mike is the most grounded, realistic, and “normal” member of the Heck family. A stereotypical male, Mike relates well to oldest son Axl’s love of sports, and often doesn’t understand his son Brick’s interest in books, or his wife Frankie and daughter Sue’s flights of fancy. But Mike is the rock on which the rest of the family depends, both financially and for emotional stability and common sense. Mike works hard, and when necessary lays down the law to keep the kids in line, but usually regards the chaos around him with a combination of resignation, bemusement, and quiet love.
Who are YOUR favorite TV fathers – either currently, or from years past?
Leave a comment below and let us know!