I love watching sitcoms on T.V., and for as long as I can remember I always identified with the blue-collar shows. They almost always had a father who was the lovable grump, juggling his role as father and husband while holding on to his only ounce of sanity.
These guys were the symbols of the old school fathers who loved their families but were too dang stubborn to show it (or didn’t know how to). But we all eventually saw them at their most vulnerable, and they showed us that even the biggest grumps have a soft spot. So here are my favorite grumpy T.V. dads that had an impact on me.
Frank Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
I wrote a piece on Frank a while back but he deserves another mention here. I loved watching Frank on Everybody Loves Raymond because he was a hilarious ass of a man. Frank never had a dull moment and he kept his family on their toes with his blunt opinions. You could count on him to make any awkward moment more cringe-worthy and he always had a witty comeback. Frank’s two sons, Ray and Robert, had a love-hate relationship with him and struggled with gaining his approval. No matter how much of a jerk-face Frank was, you still loved the dang guy because you knew how much he cared for his family. Plus, he was so flipping funny! “Holy crap!”
Jack Arnold, The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years is my all-time favorite show from when I was a kid. Jack Arnold, the father of the show’s main character, Kevin, was the quintessential grumpy dad. He was a hard-working, blue-collared man whose main purpose in life was to provide for his family and pay his bills. He was a veteran and a patriot, and had the best grumpy grunt in television. His death stare could make any kid wet his pants.
As a grumpy dad myself, I relate to Jack because he struggled with his own relationship with his dad, had difficulty cracking his rough exterior, and hesitated in touching moments because he couldn’t stand feeling vulnerable. He wanted to be the best man he could be to those he loved, and although he felt he fell short at times, his family knew how much he loved them. But MAN was he intimidating!
Red Foreman, That 70’s Show
If you’ve ever watched this show, you are well aware of Red Foreman and his shrewd outlook on life. He was another blue-collared workhorse that hated laziness and the lack of ambition. Unfortunately for Red, he had a son who held both these qualities. His favorite phrase was “Dumbass!”, and he wasn’t afraid to use it on his dopey kids and their friends. You never had to guess what was on Red’s mind, because he told you without you even asking. Typical grumpy dad.
Carl Winslow, Family Matters
I had so much fun watching Carl Winslow lose his cool with Steve Urkel in the show “Family Matters”. Carl was a great family man and a hard-working Chicago cop. All he wanted was his family to be happy and for Urkel to leave him alone. But, much to his demise, he couldn’t have both. Carl had a quick temper and allowed the smallest annoyances jack up his dangerously high blood pressure. He often put his foot in his mouth and made an ass out of himself in front of his family, followed by a pitiful apology. Remember the episode where he was supposed to go to his doctor to learn techniques to lower his blood pressure? He lied about going and came up with this silly technique instead–“One, two, three, what the heck is bothering me?” It worked for a minute, but eventually Urkel broke Carl and the yelling continued.
Arthur Spooner, The King of Queens
Arthur Spooner was the crazy and loud father who lived with his daughter and her husband in Queens, NY. Arthur was always so full of BS that no one ever took him seriously, but he did have a soft spot for his daughter. Even his son-in-law, as much as he wanted to ring his neck, loved him like his own father. Arthur was crotchety, childish, and unpredictable; the perfect combination.
Beau Bennett, The Ranch
The Ranch is a newer series on Netflix and I enjoy watching it. Sam Elliott plays Beau Bennett, the rough and tumble patriarch of a struggling ranch, whose only ranch-hands are his two sons who behave like overgrown 10-year old boys. Beau wakes up in a bad mood and goes to bed the same way. Piling bills, a divorce, and years of grueling work has made Beau a bitter man, and even his adult children are afraid to piss him off. Beau can’t handle liberals, hippies, or foreign trucks, and he’s not afraid to say so. Despite his rusty axe personality, he loves his sons and wants them to be happy, and deep down they know it. Just stay out of his way and don’t do anything stupid.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did writing it! Who are your favorite grumpy T.V. dads?
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