The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
TV Dads
I recently saw a photo of Robert Reed, who played Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch, which got me started thinking about all of the TV dads that I knew, growing up in the '60's and '70's and the images that they portrayed.

The first dads I remember were Ozzie Nelson from the The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and Steve Douglas, from My Three Sons. These dads, while faced with the adversities of raising boys in a modern world, rarely lost their cool and approached parenting with logic, humor, and wisdom. Although someone else was writing the script, these were dads that I could look up to, and they were dads the way that I thought dads should be. Ozzie stayed married to Harriet and they supported each other and presented a (mostly) united front to their offspring. Steven Douglas, an engineer, was a widower, and his brother was brought into the family to help look after his three sons (one of whom was adopted). This show proved at once that men could be both nurturing and disciplinarians.

Amongst the widowers, TV dads gave me Tom Corbett in The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and Andy Taylor of The Andy Griffith Show. Again, the dads were wise, funny, and unflappable. They had housekeepers and maiden aunts to help raise the kids - but these dads took their responsibilities seriously.

After Mike Brady and The Brady Bunch, there was Jock Ewing of Dallas. Jock was the stern patriarch of the Ewing clan, who, despite his sons' misadventures, remained the backbone of the family and the love of Miss Ellie's life. This was a dad who was powerful, but fair, and just as much a husband as he was a father.

Some time in the '80's, though, dads got "dumbed down" and saddled with mouthy kids. The emphasis of family shows went from Father Knows Best to "It's All About Us Dad (or Mom,)" and parents got shoved to the sidelines as silent mentors at best, and became the butt of jokes, at worst. Steven Keaton of Family Ties played second fiddle to his son Alex. Child characters usurped the authority of parents in shows too numerous to mention. Dads, as characters in sitcoms especially, deteriorated to incompetent buffoons, with the noted exception of Bill Cosby, who was really a throw-back to those '60's dads. I remember the praise heaped on Mr Cosby at the time (deservedly so) - but his character of Cliff Huxtable was really a rehash of Ozzie Nelson's TV character.

When I got married the first time, I truly expected that the man that I married would be like the dads I grew up with on television. It was a harsh awakening to learn that not all men take fatherhood or being a husband with the same depth of conviction that I saw in the TV dads.

For all of the "old fashioned values" that get put down every day in the media and in our daily interactions, I'll take the old TV dads over the new ones any day.

Photos are for commentary purposes only.


posted by Melanie O. at 7:51 PM -
  • At 2:28 AM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    Amen. I'll take old fashioned values every time. Values as taught by Dad and Mom or any of our elders. If I proclaim my value system to any young person, they look at me as if I just flew in from Mars. Never the less, I know those values are the best ones to live by...even if they are uncomfortable at having to get the work done before relaxing....saving money instead of spending it...eating healthy instead of indulging in cake and candy. Dad and Mom insisted on right behavior. You get the idea.

  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger David said…

    One of my pet peeves in the media is the treatment of men.
    Every ad and TV show out there (especially comedies) portray men as complete idiots, unable manage anything beyond watching the next football game.
    Meanwhile, the women are all attractive, intelligent, and 'put up' with their man as if he was some kind of goofy pet.

    Don't even get me started kids who are supposed to be funny and cute, but in reality are the most arrogant little sh*ts I would never put up with :-)

  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    David - couldn't agree with you more! Shows went from being about family interaction where the adults taught kids important life lessons, to being all about the precocious youngsters - I guess this is the kind of thing you want to see when you're 12 years old.

  • At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was only about 6 years old when The Cosby Family were on the tv, and I still love to hear Bill Cosby's voice now. And I completely agree - not all men are up to the bar on the dad-front, but there are certainly every day unsung heroes who should win father of the year, every day.

  • At 12:46 AM, Blogger Kanani said…

    FYI...from what I've read, Ozzie Nelson was a bit of a tyrant --not the happy Dad TV made him out to be. The TV show was the family business and come hell or high water, everyone had to "perform." And Robert Reid was gay man who had a good life sans kids in Pasadena.

    Anyway, I think the only ideal is to have a Dad who listens and interacts with you in a positive way. Just this is a lot, and there are loads who do just this. The others? Well, we have to look at them as examples never to follow.

  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    I'm always amused when I think about how opposite some actors are from the roles they played (I can think of several off the top of my head.) I can only say that roles are things that lead by example - and they can be for good or bad.

    With Father's Day coming up next week in Australia, fatherhood is on my mind, I suspect.

Post a Comment

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
See my profile...

Another Retro Housewife
Brought to you by
Previous Posts
If you read this blog,
you're not alone!
Sydney Weather
    The WeatherPixie
Favorite Links

You are visitor number