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