When I first became a father, I was shocked at the lack of resources readily available to dads. As someone who had every intention of being an actively-involved parent, I desperately craved the support network my wife easily found by the mere appearance of a baby bump. I wanted examples of other dads that I could look up to and utilize as a resource. Examples that could help tear down the superficial walls that seemed to divide dads and moms for no other reason than “that’s how it’s always been done.” It was that journey that led me to create a podcast presenting honest conversations about modern parenthood from the often underestimated perspective of a father. The goal was to create a forum showcasing how very similar modern dads and moms actually are beneath the surface — a chance to introduce examples of dads that I personally would want to be friends with; hence, the name of the podcast: Dad I’d Like to Friend (aka The DILF Podcast).
The main criteria were three factors that could exhibit the qualities of an excellent parent — no matter their gender:
D = depth of character
A = accessibility
D = Darn fun to be around (at least some of the time)
With that criteria (and Father’s Day around the corner), I thought it might be nice to honor some examples that have been standing before us all along, but are rarely celebrated for their parenting skills — great examples of dads ANY parent would want to… friend. And with that, I give you the top 10 most iconic DILFS (Dads I’d Like To Friend) to ever grace our TV screens.
10) Johnny Rose (Schitt’s Creek)
He might be a bit awkward at times (which might not always make him the most accessible), but this dad is as earnest as it gets. He literally does not have the capacity to fake… anything. What you see is what you get, which can be an extremely comforting quality in a parent. And his depth is proven by the way he loves and accepts each and every member of his family without a second thought.
9) Dr. Jason Seaver (Growing Pains)
This dad is the definition of accessible. His door is always open (unless he’s in with a patient), but let’s face it, if his kids needed him… he’d probably cut a session short. He may not be the poster child for “fun,” but he makes up for it in level-headedness, depth, and a complete lack of judgement.
8) Sol Bergstein (Grace & Frankie)
Yes, he cheated on his wife for years with his business partner, BUT he did fess up and attempted to take responsibility for his actions — and somehow still manages to be an accessible and loving resource for his ex-wife. He is an incredible example of someone who relentlessly supports his family, while providing a level of empathy that anyone would want in a friend… let alone their parent.
7) Coach Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
This dad is reliable to a fault. The epitome of morality and loyalty as well as a great example of a loving partner/co-parent. Although it might take him a beat to drop those walls from time-to-time, he is almost always available to see things from another perspective, which he does for his wife, daughter and as a surrogate father to every single member of the Dillon Panthers. And although he leans toward the more intense/serious side, you won’t find another TV dad with more heart. (After all: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts… Can’t Lose.)
6) Randall Pearson (This Is Us)
This dad has benefitted from two beautiful paternal role models. His adoptive father taught him about the importance of family, while his birth dad taught him how to truly prioritize what matters in life. He’s probably one of the most accessible dads on this list (or at least attempts to be), and is more than capable of letting loose and having some fun. Most importantly, he’s never afraid to be vulnerable in front of his children, or be an inspiring example of how to get back up after life knocks you down…
5) Papa Smurf (The Smurfs)
Although possibly a cult leader in disguise, Papa Smurf takes on the role of single dad with a sense of calm and genuine care for each and every one of his children. He’s somehow successfully found a way to create a safe environment, which empowers all those around him to celebrate their individuality. He’s endlessly forgiving and truly never too busy for anyone — allowing all to come to him with their problems without fear of judgment (probably even Gargamel if he needed someone to talk to).
4) Uncle Phil (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
He may seem strict at times, but this dad is extremely well-intentioned… and let’s face it, Will isn’t the easiest of kids to take into your home. Uncle Phil is wildly successful, yet he never puts work before the needs of his family. He has a huge heart, and knows how to cut a rug with the best of ‘em (after all, someone had to teach Carlton how to dance!)
3) Tony Micelli (Who’s The Boss)
Many might not remember this ’80s dad, but he optimizes a man who would do anything for his family — even swallow the ego that comes with being a former Major League Baseball player who takes a job as a live-in housekeeper to provide a better life for his daughter (the crush of every little boy of the 80s, Alyssa Milano). He’s tough, but has a huge heart. He’s got a depth of life experience and is always accessible. He’s one of those people that just gets it, and he’s as fun as they come.
2) Ted Lasso (Ted Lasso)
This dad is fun. This dad is accessible. True, he possibly too often puts the needs of others before his own, but he makes up for that with a surprising amount of inspirational depth and never lets mistakes of the past weigh him down (Be a Goldfish)… that’s one heck of a role model.
1) President Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing)
This man is brilliant. He’s witty. He’s articulate. He’s charming. Yet, he puts his family first (and that includes every one of his staff) — even with one of the most complicated jobs the world has to offer. He never lets his career take away his humanity or force him to reject his principles. He’s a role model to anyone who meets him, yet it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he dropped a humble brag about one of his kids into a presidential address. He’s capable of letting loose, yet also capable of carrying the weight of the nation on his shoulders. Truly a dad anyone would want to… friend.
Perhaps this list can help us to step beyond the dad jokes and the dad bod stereotypes that are holding us all back in an attempt to look at some of the amazing qualities that make these TV dads examples we can all aim to strive for in our own lives. Happy Father’s Day — go hug a dad.