The upcoming CBS Sitcom “$h!* My Dad Says” is generating its fair share of controversy, drawing a planned boycott by the Parents’ Television Council over the show’s title. But thematically, the sitcom is nothing groundbreaking. Based on the popular Twitter feed, the show is about an unemployed blogger who moves back in with his 72 year old father, played by William Shatner. The show’s humor focuses on the inappropriate comments made by the father. But television history is filled with inappropriate fathers. They are one of the primary sitcom stereotypes, right beside the Wacky Neighbor and Hot Wife Married to Ugly Guy.
So, in honor of William Shatner, television’s latest grouchy and inappropriate dad, we look at 5 of the most embarrassing dads in television history.
Archie Bunker, played to perfection by Carroll O’Connor, was the pattern from which all other Inappropriate TV Dads were cut. He completely shattered the “wise bringer of order” TV father stereotype made famous by Ward Cleaver and Ozzie Nelson. Bunker was blue collar to the core, prone to angry outbursts at his Hippie son-in-law, and decidedly racist. The show was considered controversial at the time even though you could walk into any blue collar household during that era and hear many of the same racial comments made by Bunker.
Best Piece of Fatherly Wisdom: A woman should cleave into her husband! Right here in this house is where Edith’s cleavage belongs!
If there’s one man on Earth who can make Seinfeld’s George Costanza look downright well adjusted, it’s his father Frank Costanza, played by Jerry Stiller, who has practically made an entire career playing Inappropriate Fathers. Frank Costanza is practically the Inappropriate Father distilled to its purest form. Who else but an Inappropriate Father could have invented Festivus, an alternative to Christmas that includes Feats of Strength and the annual Airing of Grievances, where dinner guests get to tell all other guests the ways in which they have disappointed him over the past year.
Best Piece of Fatherly Wisdom: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.”
Everybody Loves Raymond’s Frank Barone was played to perfection by the late Peter Boyle. Frank Barone is loud, obnoxious, always right, and not in the least bothered by embarrassing his family. In other words, he’s almost the perfect Inappropriate Father. From retrieving the paper in only his underpants to his refusal to pay for any repairs, usually breaking the items in an attempt at self-repair, there’s plenty to love about Frank Barone.
Best Piece of Fatherly Wisdom: Trophy wife? What the hell kind of contest did I win?
Sanford and Son’s Fred Sanford, played by the late Redd Foxx, was the reverse Archie Bunker. About as blue collar as it gets, he owned a junkyard, he was also just as racist as Archie Bunker, unleashing highly inappropriate language on Whites, Puerto Ricans, and Asians. Unlike many of the inappropriate fathers on this list, Sanford was apparently a very loving husband and father until the death of his wife, Elizabeth, who he regularly insists he’s “coming to join” anytime his son Lamont does something he doesn’t approve of.
Best Piece of Fatherly Wisdom: If God wanted you to eat Puerto Rican Food, he would have lined your stomach with Pepto Bismol.
What would any list of Inappropriate Fathers be without the guy who has been doing it for 20 years. When The Simpsons debuted in 1989, Homer was a minor character, a foil for lead player Bart’s tricks. But the writers quickly discovered Homer’s voice and he rapidly eclipsed everyone else as the most interesting Simpson. Fat, lazy, and prone to insane get rich quick schemes, Homer Simpson takes Inappropriate Parenting to another level, regularly strangling Bart.
Best Piece of Fatherly Wisdom: Marge, don’t discourage the boy! Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.