As we feverishly browse the world’s greeting card aisles for the ones that best sum up our fathers in a picture of a sailboat, a duck, or perhaps a “humorous” reminder of his age, we reflect on some of the most iconic dads in Southern pop culture. Fatherhood requires honesty, bravery, attentiveness, and caring. For example, Rust Cohle is decidedly not a good father. (Too soon, Rust?) For Father’s Day, we bring you the best five Southern dads in pop culture. Get your tissues out. These power rankings ended up getting EMOTIONAL.
Here’s a POWER RANKINGS edition of Southern Fried on The South’s Pop Culture Dads from a guy who is decidedly not a father.
1) BEST ANIMATED FATHER LISTENING TO DUBSTEP WITH HIS SON: Hank Hill of King of the Hill
Here’s the thing about being a father. You’ve got to take interest in what your kids like. But not being absent doesn’t mean that you’ll put up with things that damage kids, no matter how much they like them. And there’s a fair argument to be made that dubstep is damaging to an entire generation. I’d explain how, but Hank does a much better job.
2) BEST SOUTHERN FATHER YOU KNEW WOULD BE ON THIS LIST: Atticus Finch of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
It’s arguable that there is not a better man in all of recorded pop culture history than Atticus Finch. He cares only about what is right to a degree that rivals even Hank Hill. Atticus wouldn’t allow Scout to listen to dubstep, that’s almost a given. Great men, especially those who fight against the status quo, aren’t always recognized as such during their lifetimes. For sons and daughters, that can be a difficult and confusing situation–What will North West think of her father Kanye in ten years?–but Atticus was recognized by the good people in his community. Want proof? Since we can’t embed entire books, here’s a clip from the film version. Hope you have a tissue handy, because your eyes are gonna start raining.
3) BEST SOUTHERN FATHER WHO HAS EXTREMELY SPECIFIC OPINIONS ON HOW BOILED SEAFOOD SHOULD BE CONSUMED: Wink of Beasts of the Southern Wild
Sure, it’s pretty arguable that Wink hasn’t done the best job raising Hushpuppy, but the people who argue that didn’t grow up in South Louisiana and don’t cringe at the name Katrina. Northerners might not know why it’s so important to leave the knife on the table while peeling a crab, but Wink is doing what all fathers should: He’s teaching Hushpuppy how to survive once he’s no longer around. And he’s passing down what he knows, what was passed down to him: the way he learned to survive.
4) BEST SOUTHERN FATHER WHO WAS KIND ENOUGH TO THE HUMAN RACE TO NOT ACTUALLY BE A FATHER, Frank Underwood of House of Cards
The cutthroat South Carolina politician isn’t really known for being a “good guy.” In fact, he’s probably the most ruthless, awful human being on television. The one kind thing he ever did for the human race was choosing not to breed. In some weird way, choosing not to be a dad makes him a pretty good dad (to the human race). After all, the guy spends his free time staring into mirrors and speaking in evil, confusing monologues dotted with anachronistic metaphors. I don’t see him growing into fatherhood.
5) BEST SOUTHERN FATHER WHO FATHERED LIKE FIFTY PEOPLE EVEN THOUGH HE ONLY HAD TWO BIOLOGICAL OFFSPING, Coach Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights
Coach Eric Taylor was hard on everybody: his players, his daughter, and, perhaps mostly, himself. The only person tougher than Coach Taylor was his wife Tammy. Both served as surrogate parents to the misfits and outcasts of Dillon, Texas. It’s hard to say why, though I have a theory. I’m pretty sure there are only like four other parents in all of Dillon. It’s Lord of the Flies out there. What we do know for sure is that Matt Saracen held a special place in his coach’s heart, something obvious in Coach Taylor’s face after he tries to sober up an extremely inebriated Saracen. Warning: your face will be wetter than Saracen’s shirt when you’re done watching this one.
Who would you add the list?
Southern Fried is a weekly column brought to you by Travis M. Andrews that focuses on the fun, the ridiculous, and the trending in these here Southern United States. Because sometimes home is a little absurd.