Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pa's With Flaws


By Bill S.

Father's Day is once again upon us, and it's time for this year's list of terrible TV and Movie dads. Last year, I was too appalled by a pair of real-life dads to think of any fictional ones who were worse. That almost happened this year -- it's hard to think of two worse dads than the men who sired the Stanford rapist and the Orlando shooter; their attempts to rationalize their sons' crimes was enough to make anyone lose their lunch.

But I can't skip the column again, so here's this years list.

WORST TV DADS

ARIEL CONROY (Matthew Baynton) on You, Me & the Apocalypse is the show's second most evil character (Sutton, being older, has been evil longer). It's easy to forget he is a father, since the only way we learn this is because Jamie encounters a very angry, very pregnant woman who mistakes him for his twin brother. Ariel abandoned her, took off for America, and completely forgot about her. He was too busy committing cyber terrorism, killing people (including his best friend) and kidnapping 15 year old Spike to blackmail the kid's uncle. Once he returns to England he spends most of his time pursuing his ex-girlfriend-turned-sister-in-law Layla, eventually winning her back by posing as Jamie. When Layla sees through the deception and asks him to track down her six year old daughter Frankie, his response is simply: "We can make a new Frankie. One who's both ours." So he's not much of an stepfather/uncle (Stuncle?) either.

Bonus bad dad: Spike's father (If anyone can identify the actor, I'll be very grateful). With his mother Rhonda fleeing authorities after busting out of jail and his stepfather battling terminal cancer, Spike winds up in the custody of his father, who is a dirtbag moron. He taunts Spike, pushes him around, and tosses Spike's phone into a septic tank, with the result being that Spike never gets Rhonda's message warning him to stay away from Ariel.

MALCOLM MERLYN (John Barrowman) and DAMIEN DARHK (Neal McDonough) both on Arrow. Two villains on the same show juggling the demands of fatherhood with evil plans to take over/destroy the world.

Malcolm has this nasty little habit of trying to destroy the very city his daughter Thea lives in, which isn't the most endearing trait. There's also the fact that he's in the League of Assassins and wants his daughter to join.

"Aw, dad, can't we just join a bowling league instead?"

Of course, that's nothing compared to Damien Dahrk, who actually tried to wipe out the human race. Which would make it really hard to arrange play dates for his daughter.

"C'mon, kiddo. I'll take you to Playground Zero."

WORST MOVIE DADS

OLD NICK (Sean Bridgers) in Room (2015). We don't learn much about him, including his real name. What we do know is that he becomes a father by kidnapping a teenage girl, raping her, and holding her and the son they conceived prisoner in a tiny shed. Which is really all we need to.

JERRY LUNDEGAARD (William H. Macy) in Fargo (1996). His harebrained scheme to have his wife kidnapped (what is it with all the kidnapping? I swear when this was just a coincidence!) leads to the murders of three people (including her), landing him in jail and his son without a mother, a father or a grandfather.

WALTER EBERHART (Peter Masterson) and all the other husbands in The Stepford Wives (1975) The men in the movie are all kinda creepy and gross, which makes sense, as only a creepy, gross man would want a Stepford wife. (It does raise the question of how they landed quality babes like Katherine Ross, Paula Prentiss and Tina Louise in the first place). We all know how badly they treat their wives, but imagine what this means for their kids, especially the girls. I mean, they'd surely sense something was "off" about their mothers, and who knows what will happen if and when they find out the truth?

STANLEY KOWALSKI (Marlon Brando) in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Because Stanley was played by a young Brando, who, in 1951, looked like this...
"Well, damn."

...it's easy to forget what a monster he is. (In fact, Pauline Kael was so hot and bothered she gave him a pass.) Stanley is manipulative, emotionally infantile, abusive, and a narcissist who needs his ego bolstered constantly. On the night Stella goes into labor, he rapes his mentally unstable sister-in-law Blanche, counting on the fact that no one will believe her. She winds up being committed, and we wonder just what kind of toxic environment the baby is going to grow up in.

GEPPETTO (Christian Rub) in Pinocchio (1940). Why, you might ask, is kindly, lovable Geppetto on this list? Because despite his best intentions, he's utterly clueless. After having his wish for a son granted (sure, he might have included "preferably not made of wood"), he decides to send the boy to school right away. Like, less than a day after getting him. Pinocchio's never seen anything in the outside world. It might have been a good idea to maybe accompany the boy to class, if for no other reason than to spare the other kids and the teacher the freak-out of seeing a walking, talking doll. It's a moot point anyway, because Pinocchio, of course, gets lost along the way, so Geppetto does what any father would do: climbs into a rowboat to search the high seas and get swallowed by a whale. Another thing: once Pinocchio is transformed into a real boy, what happens next? Aren't the people of that tiny village going to be just a teensy bit suspicious when they see an elderly bachelor wandering around town with an 8 year old boy they've never seen before? I'm sure they'll buy his explanation.

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers who didn't kidnap or murder anyone! Sing us out, Baby Jane!

1 comment:

Keith said...

Good grief, Bill S. I'm so off-the-grid I don't even know these bad Dads. Except for Stanley. And that was one horrible father-to-be.

TW was lukewarm to having Brando cast as SK because audiences would feel even slightly sympathetic to his character. Or perhaps swoon. Stanley is, as many might interpret the script, a monster.

No doubt, the Kowalski family makes the Tyrone family look like high season at Club Med.

Well done, Bill.