Pop Culture Father’s Day

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In honor of this Sunday being Father’s Day, I thought it fitting to take a look at some of the great television dads. This proved to be a slightly harder task than I anticipated – it was a lot easier to find TV fathers that are kind of the worst (Walter White, Tony Soprano, Donald Draper, etc.) or where being a father is a pretty minimal part of their character (the kids were pretty incidental on Everybody Loves Raymond; in plenty of other shows, male characters are fathers in name but we never see them interact with their kids). It doesn’t help that a classic sitcom trope is that fathers are buffoons that know nothing about raising no babies. But even with the cards somewhat stacked against TV dads, I was still able to find plenty of examples of fictional fathers that I wouldn’t mind having.

Dr. Cliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show)

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OK – let’s get the most obvious and yet awkward choice out of the way. Cliff Huxtable’s popularity has dipped a bit recently given that the man who portrays his and is synonymous with the role is an alleged sexual predator. I get that and I did actually consider not putting him on the list for fear that this was kind of a gross choice. However, I decided that most (but not all) of my readers can distinguish fact from fiction and separate the ickiness of the actor from the greatness of the character. And by any metric, Cliff Huxtable was a pretty amazing dad. He was hands on and involved in their lives and was always there with some words of wisdom or to intervene when he saw his children straying from the correct path. He was funny and silly, but also strict and willing to get tough when needed. He was a good husband, which is also an important part of being a good father. Cliff Huxtable is really the standard by which I judge all other TV dads – I grew up watching The Cosby Show and the character made a distinct impression. That’s what makes all this nonsense with Bill Cosby all the more sad – not only is there the obvious disgustingness attached to his alleged actions, but in the process a classic TV character has been forever tainted. Cliff Huxtable would have been outraged by Bill Cosby.

 

Coach Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)

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Not only was Coach Taylor a great dad to his actual daughters Julie and Gracie, but he was also a father to all the players on his high school football teams. Perhaps because my own father was a volunteer coach for close to twenty years, this resonates with me all the more. Coach Taylor treated his players with dignity and respect and was a stand-in to so many of them that lacked a present and engaged male role model. Nowhere was this more evident than in his relationship with his starting QB Matt Saracen. Some of their scenes together are the most poignant and heartbreaking of the run of the series. Eric Taylor was a just a good man that cared deeply about all the young people in his life. He even loved little Gracie Bell, even though she looked like an alien. Every kid should have a man in their life like Coach.

 

Eddard (Ned) Stark (Game of Thrones)

Eddard-Stark-Cripples-Bastards-and-Broken-Things-1-04-lord-eddard-ned-stark-30086296-1280-720The landscape of Game of Thrones is littered with nothing but tremendously shitty fathers; I can’t even imagine what Father’s Day would look like in Westeros, since most kids either don’t know the true identity of their fathers or their dads are kind of heartless or sadistic S.O.B.s. Perhaps that is why Ned Stark stood out on the show, despite the fact that he didn’t last particularly long playing the game of thrones. Unlike most of the fathers on Game of Thrones, Ned seemed to actually like his kids and see them as actual people rather than pawns or a necessary evil. He cared for them all – even his “bastard son” Jon Snow – but he had a particularly special relationship with his daughter Arya, who wasn’t interested in conforming to what society expected of her. Ned stood up for and protected his children at all costs, even when it was politically not the savviest decision. He instilled in them a sense of right and wrong; Ned was a decent guy in a world in desperate need of decent guys. Perhaps he should have hardened his offspring more to the realities of the world that they were living in, but hindsight is 20/20. In a fairly shallow pool of candidates, Ned Stark is easily the best father in Westeros.

 

Burt Hummel (Glee)

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I tired of Glee pretty quickly, but the one thing that I thought always worked were the scenes between Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) and his gay son Kurt. Kurt is initially afraid to come out to his father, worrying that his blue collar dad will be unable to accept him, but those fears are unfounded. What I especially liked about the relationship between Burt and Kurt is that while they love and accept each other, the show doesn’t shy away from Burt struggling a bit to understand his son. They are two very different people, which I think is an important dynamic for the show to address. But Burt always has his son’s back and proves to be a solid stepfather to Finn as well. Even when I was rolling my eyes at the rest of Glee, the moments with the Hummel men were always so beautifully done and touching that it kept me watching the show much longer than I think I would have otherwise. Full disclosure: I stopped watching Glee somewhere in the third season, so if Burt suddenly became a monster or a terrible dad I wasn’t around to see it. Unlikely, but frankly nothing was impossible on Glee.

 

Sandy Cohen (The O.C.)

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Loyal readers of the blog have probably picked up on the fact that I have a special spot in my heart for the teen soap The O.C., which is particularly amusing given how old I was when the show debuted (I was in grad school) and my usual taste in television (dark and twisty). Not only did The O.C. introduce viewers to a lot of great indie music, Benjamin McKenzie and the term Chrismukkah, but it also had a lot of great characters, foremost among those Sandy Cohen. Sandy is a bit of a fish out of water in Newport, which is perhaps why he connects with the troubled Ryan Atwood (McKenzie) and brings him home with him. Sandy is a great father to both Ryan and his son Seth; he is very present in their lives and ready to advise them as they make their way through adolescence. Sandy is a relatively permissive father, but still provides both of his sons boundaries and stability. Plus he has amazing eyebrows.

 

Louie (Louie)

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Louie is a great, if occasionally weird, show and one of the dynamics that I enjoy the most is Louie’s relationship with his daughters Jane and Lilly. Even with all the other stuff that happens on the show, the one thing that comes shining through is Louie’s love of his children; they are always his priority and watching single dad Louie navigate slumber parties and interactions with other parents provides a lot of funny moments for the show. Louie is exasperated by fatherhood, but he also clearly loves it. He really wants his daughters to grow up to be decent people and tries to instill in them the values that will prevent them from becoming a**holes (that’s how Louie would probably phrase it). Louie provides perhaps the most modern view of fatherhood; the reality is that a lot of dads today only get to see their kids part time and have to make the most of the timeshare arrangement.

Bob Belcher (Bob’s Burgers)

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Bob is probably the best of all the animated fathers (Homer Simpson’s heart is in the right place, but he’s a moron); he is able to navigate his children’s, shall we say, unique personalities and make them all feel loved and validated. He’s usually the voice of reason in his family, but he’s also proven a willingness to go above and beyond for his children. Financial necessity means that he is also his children’s employer at the restaurant, but he tries to make sure that they have some semblance of a work/life balance. Bob knows that his kids are a little weird, but he loves them regardless and just as importantly, he understands them. He doesn’t try to make them something that they are not while still trying to guide them into making the best choices. Not always an easy task when your children are Tina, Gene and Louise or when they are goaded on by the unbridled enthusiasm of their mother Linda. Bob is the glue that holds the Belcher family together and grounds them.

Your turn – who would get your vote for best television father? Nominate your favorite TV dad in the comments below. Hope everyone has a wonderful Father’s Day!

 

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Kick off the Weekend Edition

Some technical difficulties and a wonky schedule this week mean that you are getting your pop culture roundup a few days late. Apologies to anyone who was disappointed, but I tried to make it up to you with an extra-long batch of links. With Sundance, The Television Critics Association winter meeting and awards season all happening at the same time, there was no shortage of news to report. This is actually the condensed version of links! So while most of the country is in a deep freeze, grab a blanket and stay inside all weekend pouring through the last 2+ weeks in the world of pop!

  • Last night was Adam Scott’s final installment in his The Greatest Event in Television History specials. They ended with a bang, with Scott and Paul Rudd recreating the opening credits to Bosom Buddies:

I will miss these.

  • HBO has passed on the Sarah Silverman pilot, People in New Jersey. Boo!

 

  • As someone who regularly hangs out with our interns at the office, this Conan bit made me literally laugh out loud:

 

  • Adrian Grenier was almost Dawson on Dawson’s Creek. I didn’t think it was possible to make that character more awful, but that would have done it. #Pacey4Life
  • This will make some people I know happy – the first photo from Dumb and Dumber To:

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  • Bam! Pow! The original Batman TV series with Adam West is finally coming to home video. So. Much.Kitsch.

Now for some news on the Super Bowl:

  • The Full House guys are reuniting for a yogurt commercial:

 

  • Good news for the Bronies out there – the Bronytunes app allows you to stream 7,000 different songs about My Little Pony.
  • One Direction will appear on the show:

 

  • This is kind of cool – watch Quentin Tarantino and Steve Buscemi rehearse Reservoir Dogs:

 

  • The first poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I have been released (and it doesn’t look much different than the poster for the previous two films):

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  • One of the stars of Shipping Wars has died.
  • Watch a one armed teen scare The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus:

 

Trailers:

  • A teaser trailer for FX’s The Strain:

 

  • I bailed after J.R. died, but here’s a trailer for the 3rd season of the new Dallas:

 

  • A new trailer for The LEGO Movie, which I really want to see:

 

  • Chloe Sevingny’s new show, Those Who Kill:

 

  • James Franco’s Child of God:

 

  • Showtime’s new creepy thriller, Penny Dreadful:

 

  • A very Syracuse-y trailer for Adult World, starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack

 

  • A new prom for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:

 

  • I did far better than I expected on this SNL quiz, thanks to some catchphrases from the 90s.
  • Just because, here’s a photo of Tupac and Suge Knight playing Sonic the Hedgehog:

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As always, we end with the mashups and the supercuts:

The film Her seems to have inspired a lot of parodies:

  • A trailer for Him:

 

  • Her starring Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones:

 

  • If you ever wondered what Game of Thrones would look like if it was set in ancient Japan (and who hasn’t?), wonder no longer.
  • As a fan of independent films, this parody trailer made me giggle:

 

  • Mean Girls by cats:

 

  • A supercut of every Nintendo start screen….ahh memories:

 

  • A hipster remake of American Psycho:

 

  • Donald Glover’s last episode of Community was last night; here’s a Childish Gambino/Community mashup to help ease the pain:

 

  • It was only a matter of time- someone mashed up Haim’s “The Wire” with footage from The Wire :

 

  • Watch a supercut of “Let It Go” in 25 different languages:

 

  • Teen Wolf of Wall Street:

 

  • A supercut of Larry David’s best insults:

 

  • And finally…The Facts of Life/Breaking Bad mashup you didn’t even know you needed:

 

Have a great weekend!!!

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Christmas Eve Edition

Tis the season of giving and I could think of nothing better to give my dear readers than an extra jam packed stocking of pop culture links. There is a lot in here, which will hopefully keep you entertained as the blog takes a mini-holiday hiatus for a couple of days. If all goes according to plan, I should be back Friday with a Wolf of Wall Street review.

And now, my gift to you: more pop culture knowledge than you can shake a stick at:

  • You can now watch Metallica’s entire concert in Antarctica:

 

  • Lifetime has also announced dates for their Flowers in the Attic and Lizzie Borden movies.
  • Kate Winslet has picked a name for her newborn son and yes, it’s unusual (though kudos for NOT giving the kid his father’s last name of Rocknroll).
  • STOP THE PRESSES – a Tom Hiddleston/Benedict Cumberbatch dance-off:

I think the Internet just exploded.

  • I do love me some touchdown celebrations, so I appreciate the Wall Street Journal analyzing all 1,150 in the 2013 season:

They also created this fancy chart.

  • Watch Ron Burgundy perform “Ride Like the Wind” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

 

  • Paul Rudd told Letterman about the time he tried to break up a drag queen fight while in his Anchorman 2 costume:

THAT should have been added to the movie!

  • Put Conan, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart together and watch the magic happen:

 

  • Conan also visited The American Doll store.

I think Conan has just earned his way to a season pass on my DVR. He’s killing it lately.

  • Watch a Jeopardy! contestant do his best Bane impression:

 

  • I enjoyed this Cougar Town ad created from thousands of corks. The Cul-de-sac crew loves its vino!

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  • Cracker Barrel pulled, then restocked, their Duck Dynasty merchandise after Phil Robertson’s controversial GQ interview.
  • Justin Timberlake photobombed some people at his concert:

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  • Ha! Watch Michael K. Williams (OMAR!) promote the Chalky White line of children’s books:

 

  • I’ll be on the market for a new car within a year; perhaps I should look into this LEGO car.

For your holiday perusal – a tone of trailers:

  • A new teaser for Community (January 2! Can’t wait!)

 

  • A teaser trailer for the new season of Orphan Black:

 

  • Anne Hathaway and Jamie Foxx in Rio 2:

 

  • A promo for Patton Oswalt’s new standup special:

 

  • A longer look at HBO’s Looking:

 

  • An animated trailer for Community:

 

  • Did the Oscars always have trailers?

 

  • Ha! Netflix did a trailer for their streaming Yule Log:

 

  • A trailer for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel:

 

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:

 

 

  • A red band trailer for 22 Jump Street:

 

  • The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton:

 

  • The Expendables 3 teaser trailer:

 

  • Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore team up for what I’m already predicting will be one of the worst movies of 2014:

 

  • Jon Hamm + Baseball = Heather’s wheelhouse. I will see Million Dollar Arm 100 times.

 

  • A third season trailer for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:

 

  • I have never seen Kanye as happy as he is in this photo, eating ice cream:

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There has been a sudden proliferation of oral histories;

A few quick Mashups and Supercuts

  • Check out this illustrated mashup of memorable pop culture events in 2013:

 

 

  • I try to keep you guys up to date, but if you want a real crash course, here’s a three minute video on 2013 pop culture:

 

  • Watch Jeff Winger and Dean Pelton’s relationship on Community reimagined as a psychological thriller:

 

And finally, we end with a bunch of holiday stuff:

  • A holiday themed Billy on the Street featuring Amy Poehler:

 

  • For those of you who feel a little grinchy, an “I hate Christmas” supercut:

 

  • This never gets old – the Happy Endings Hip Hop Santa dance-off:

 

  • A Peanuts flashmob? Outstanding!

 

  • Watch Elf re-enacted with pugs:

 

  •  Whoa – check out this gingerbread Optimus Prime:

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  • A song made only from Christmas tree ornaments:

 

  • Some guy named Paul inserted himself into Home Alone:

 

  • In honor of Festivus, a supercut of Seinfeld characters airing their grievances:

I’ve got a lot of problems with you people.

  • “Defying Gravity” as sung by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:

 

  • And finally…..Conan reveals a terrifying twist for Elf on the Shelf:

 

Wishing you all a very happy holidays – however you choose to celebrate, I hope you are smiling.