Throughout the ‘90s and beyond, Black dramas and sitcoms have provided the masses with a hearty serving of laughter, tears, and contention. In some aspects, millennials and future generations have learned valuable lessons from Black-focused programs, since many of them are family-oriented — think UPN’s Moesha starring Brandy or ABC’s Family Matters with Jaleel White, who portrayed Steve Urkel (and the attractive Stefan Urquelle).
While most folks love Black programming, many shows have opened the lens when tackling various family issues — from parenting styles to abandonment issues. And while many of us can relate to the characters in these shows, we can all agree that the problematic TV dads have continued to leave a bad taste in our mouths.
With that in mind, it’s only right we give a breakdown of some of the most problematic TV dads in the drama series and sitcom department. Prepare to give them a bombastic side eye!
1. Frank Mitchell from 'Moesha'
Baby… we couldn’t start off this list of problematic TV dads without highlighting Frank Mitchell (William Allen Young) and his trifling behind. If you remember Moesha fondly, then you know that the teenager was literally fighting for her life with Frank as her father. The man was chauvinistic, problematic, and a hypocrite.
Although the sitcom tried to label Frank as a stern, traditional father, his lack of sensitivity, judgemental spirit, overbearing parenting toward Moesha, and dismissive nature of his youngest son, Miles, was quite problematic. Frank decided to call Moesha a t---- for having a tattoo and wearing a crop top that wasn’t too revealing. Moesha ended up running away in tears.
Not to mention, the man cheated on Moesha’s late mother Marguerite — and produced a child. In Season 5, we learned that the child was Dorian, who was introduced as his troubled runaway nephew. SMH. Plus, his new wife, Dee, tried to teach him about the importance of communicating openly with Moesha since she’s a teenage girl along with gender equality, all to no avail. Frank wasted no time going back to the true essence of who he was as a person — a horrible father. The jury rests.
2. Lou Smith from 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air remains revered as one of the best black sitcoms. Thanks to Will Smith and the hilarious ensemble cast, the show taught millennials important life lessons ranging from navigating friendships, relationships, and familial issues. That said, Will’s father, Lou Smith (Ben Vereen), left a bad taste in the mouths of viewers for one heartbreaking reason — abandonment.
It’s no secret that Will was abandoned by his father and was raised by his mother in Philadelphia. However, the decision was made for Will to live with his Aunt Vivian and Uncle Phil for better opportunities and to escape his bad Philadelphia neighborhood. But, Lou decided to come back into Will’s life unexpectedly with the promise of them spending time together. Unfortunately, Lou leaves Will hanging yet again, and it takes a toll on him. Stop entering the lives of children if you have no intention of remaining a constant parental figure.
3. James St. Patrick from 'Power'
This one might cause some of y'all to look at me sideways, but in the words of Nene Leakes, "I said what I said!" If you believe that James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) was a great father to his children on Power, it's time to rethink some things. For starters, James's selfish behind decides to divorce his wife and move out of his marital home with their three kids to shack up with his mistress Angela Valdez. Even worse, he decides to introduced his three kids to the mistress and moves them in with the hussy without talking to his children. Bombastic side eye!
Aside from forcing his kids into a chaotic transition, Jamie's double life as a businessman and drug dealer spilled over into his family life, which ultimately affected the psychological welfare of his children — especially his son, Tariq. Not to mention, he pulled a gun out on Tariq after wrongfully suspecting that Tariq was in cahoots with Tommy to try and kill him. What kind of father pulls out a weapon on their child? And of course, James assaulted Tariq's mom, which caused Tariq to threaten his life.
Despite the good James was doing and in the process of completing before he was murdered, the man was a trash parent. And it's easy to see why Tariq couldn't stand him.
4. Lucious Lyon from 'Empire'
Some folks argue that Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is the worst TV dad of them all. While the debate is still ongoing, we must say that Luscious was a true piece of work. In the premiere episode of Empire, Luscious is seen throwing his then-young son Jamal into the trash after the boy comes downstairs at a family party wearing his mother's heels and scarf. The man literally picked up the little boy and put him into a trash can outside. Jamal grew up and came out as a gay man, and Lucious consistently put him through the wringer over his sexual orientation.
Aside from Luscious's clear bias, he also treated his other children poorly. Lucious sent Hakeem's girlfriend Camilia away and lied and told him that she was paid off. Lucious also punched Hakeem in the face because he didn't like being called out for his wrongdoings. Not to mention, after killing Freda's father, he essentially took her in and treated her better than his own children. And of course the list goes on: using artists to diss his children, hiring people to rob his family's employees, and more. Trash!
5. Rowan Pope from 'Scandal'
Last but certainly not least, we have Rowan Pope, aka Papa Pope (Joe Morton). Fans of Scandal appreciate Rowan for his epic monologues that always managed to hit deep and leave his intended target feeling crushed and speechless. Interestingly, the target was typically his daughter Olivia, who he expected excellence from at every turn. Don't get me wrong, I can't flat out call Rowan a horrible father. He was an accomplished, intelligent, and prideful man that only wanted the best for Olivia. However, the man was problematic.
For starters, Rowan had no problem sending Olivia to live abroad in exile after her affair with the president of the U.S., Fitzgerald Grant, was revealed. Clearly Olivia is a grown a-- woman, but Rowan refused for her to "squander" her life way as a mistress. Not to mention, Rowan has a methodical yet sinister way of using the men in Olivia's life to control her — from Admiral and B613 agent Jake Ballard to Russell, the new B613 recruit.
Essentially, Rowan used Olivia's romantic life for his own personal needs, especially his role as the head of B613, the top-secret government spy agency. Rowan also murdered one of Olivia's gladiators (employees) Harrison after he discovered Rowan killed the president's son, Jerry, as revenge for Fitz taking Olivia away from him.
Interestingly, Rowan's love for Olivia is apparent, but he has a weird way of showcasing it — from giving her backhanded compliments to bullying her to have dinner with him after crossing the line in her professional and romantic lives. Scandal fans remain divided on labeling Rowan a bad parent, but he remains as one of the most notable villains to be portrayed on network television.