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10 Worst TV Parents

Image Gallery: TV Parents While there are many contenders for the title of "Worst TV Parents" on "Desperate Housewives," only one made our list. Read to find out which one. See more TV parenting pictures.
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It's not a great stretch to think of TV as a teacher. After all, Oprah's got us reading the classics and thanks to TLC, if we're ever in the market for a wedding dress, we'll know which one deserves a "yes."

So when it comes to parenting, it's only natural we turn to the tube for guidance in the form of easily relatable plot twists that get ironed out in a half-hour. From sitcoms to dramas, parenting advice is just a remote control away - unless, of course, it's offered by one of these TV parents. Just who makes the worst role models? Check out the next page.

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George and Lucille Bluth taking a break from traumatizing their children.
George and Lucille Bluth taking a break from traumatizing their children.
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George Sr. and Lucille Bluth of "Arrested Development" aren't great parents, but they are good at teaching their children a lesson or two. During the children's formative years, the Bluths often hired a one-armed man to have his prosthetic arm ripped off in front of their children. This versatile teaching tool was used to remind them to leave a note if they drank the last of the milk or to close the front door when the air conditioner was on. Effective, if not traumatic. Now that their children are grown, the Bluths use similarly dysfunctional tactics to keep them in line. At least there's something to be said about parenting consistently.

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It's a mad, mad world. At least the one Don and Betty Draper live in. These "Mad Men" characters are off-tilt, in their parenting tactics and otherwise. Betty alternately snaps at their children or ignores them entirely, all the while planning her great escape into the arms of another man. Don sleeps with his young daughter's schoolteacher after he takes a field trip just a little too seriously. That is, when he's not sleeping with nearly every other woman he meets. Don and Betty are quite a pair, but nothing tops it off quite like the mutual abandonment of their charges. Once Don and Betty decide to call it quits, they leave the two older kids with a housekeeper -- indefinitely and without much explanation.

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In this shot from a Simpsons' video game, Homer seems to have forgotten about his son Bart.
In this shot from a Simpsons' video game, Homer seems to have forgotten about his son Bart.
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Bumbling Homer Simpson is the king of cartoon dads -- especially when it comes to putting his kids last. Homer does his time at the nuclear power plant, dreams of doughnuts and when the workday ends, he heads to the local bar. He's fond of dishing out meaningless but hilarious advice to his son Bart like, "With $10,000, we'd be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like...love!" In one episode alone, he steals Bart's food and then sets him on fire. And every now and then Bart's behavior drives Homer to strangle him -- literally. Still, Homer has bigger concerns than obviously bad parenting. Like not letting the kids come between a man and his beer. Who else but Homer could we count on to belt out, "I'd rather have a beer than be Father of the Year"?

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Peg Bundy smoked cigarettes in the kitchen. Al Bundy installed his own personal toilet in the garage and asked his children, Kelly and Bud, to steal from the neighbors (on more than one occasion). Kelly and Bud were, by the way, about as supervised as stray cats. And when they were home, the kids didn't usually find a stitch of food in the kitchen cupboards or refrigerator. In fact, the closest thing they had to parental guidance was the self-indulgent couple next door. If this weren't enough of a parenting fail, the Bundys offered yet one more way to make us cringe: plenty of lewd banter about their sex life -- or lack of it. In one episode, they did show their frisky side and got busy on a picnic table littered with bird poop. Yuck!

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Archie Bunker (right) pontificates on the latest political disaster to his daughter Gloria and her husband "Meathead."
Archie Bunker (right) pontificates on the latest political disaster to his daughter Gloria and her husband "Meathead."
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Archie Bunker, the patriarch of the 1970s sitcom "All in the Family," was a bristly, bigoted loudmouth. If that weren't enough, he referred to his daughter's boyfriend (who later married into the family for reasons we'll never understand) only as "Meathead."Although Archie clearly loved his daughter, viewers were required to look beneath the surface (way beneath) to find any remotely lovable qualities. When Archie wasn't grousing at his long-suffering, simple-minded wife, he was complaining about the state of, well, absolutely everything. We admit there were a few tender moments, but these were few and far-between -- and didn't occur often enough to redeem his placement on our list.

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Lynette Scavo is our pick for "Desperate Housewives'" worst parent.
Lynette Scavo is our pick for "Desperate Housewives'" worst parent.
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Lynette Scavo is a manipulative mom who hails from Wisteria Lane, but is well on her way to earning the title of worst mom on the block. And for the ABC melodrama "Desperate Housewives," that's saying something. One of her most misguided parenting moves? Lynette hired her receptionist to kidnap her twin boys, just to teach her husband a lesson in responsibility. Speaking of which, this is the same woman who once released a rat into her home to make her husband think he needed to take the housework up a notch. Unfortunately, releasing the scaly tailed creature made her baby and other children potential targets for the creepy crawly diseases rats carry. And to top it off, she murdered her son's imaginary friend out of jealousy. Way to go, mom!

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"Everybody Loves Raymond" originally aired during the '90s and soon kids everywhere were exclaiming, "Holy Crap!" just like Frank Barone. Frank and his meddling wife Marie lived across the street from their son Ray, his wife, Debra, and their children. Talk about too close for comfort. When Frank wasn't zoned out or chucking insults at Marie, she was popping over to Ray's house unannounced to offer Debra backhanded compliments and unsolicited advice about her home, laundry and cooking. (Sample zinger: Debra: "A clean house is not the most important thing in the world." Marie: "You know who says that? A messy person.") Oy!

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What's Endora up to next?
What's Endora up to next?
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Luckily for Samantha Stephens of the 1960s sitcom, "Bewitched," her mother Endora doesn't have a better half. Because we're pretty sure that in her case, he would've been a warlock. And not the nice kind, either. Endora was one bad mama -- who also happened to be a witch. She resented her daughter's penchant for mortal suburban bliss, but not as much as she begrudged her son-in-law Darrin. Endora did everything within her considerable powers to ruin her daughter's marriage. Once she even magically summoned Samantha's former boyfriend to appear, hoping her daughter would be unfaithful. Now that's the stuff monsters-in-law are made of.

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A rare moment of TV harmony for the "Dallas" clan. J.R. and Sue Ellen are on the right.
A rare moment of TV harmony for the "Dallas" clan. J.R. and Sue Ellen are on the right.
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This unhappily married couple played a central role on the late 70s drama, "Dallas." When they weren't trying to outfox each other, they were outfoxing everyone else -- with varying degrees of success. Turns out J.R.'s "business" trips were actually racy affairs --and he paid the price during a season finale by taking a bullet and leaving the show's followers wondering, "Who shot J.R.?" Sue Ellen wasn't blameless, though. She became pregnant with an apparent heir to the Ewing throne, but her heavy drinking made the rest of us cringe. In a sheer moment of TV magic, her son was born without any ill effects, but that doesn't mean the boy's life was without drama. When the secret was revealed that he might be the son of J.R.'s biggest enemy, viewers waited with bated breath for the inevitable plot twist: Turns out, the boy was actually J.R.'s son. We're willing to bet this news made for interesting dinner table conversation at the Ewing home. It certainly did at ours.

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Evelyn Harper -- mistress of manipulation.
Evelyn Harper -- mistress of manipulation.
Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

Self-centered in the extreme, Evelyn Harper's a master manipulator -- especially when it comes to her two grown sons, Charlie and Alan, of "Two and a Half Men." She's conned Alan into acting as her dinner date. And she's tricked the lascivious Charlie into splitting up at least one marriage, just so she could add to her offerings as a real estate agent by putting the divorcing couple's house on the market. But the boys' woes really started much earlier. Evelyn loves to tell Charlie (and anyone else who will listen) that she thought he was going to be a girl because the sonogram showed no sign of a penis. Which, she adds, is why Charlie's always been "a little drama queen."

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Sources

  • Comedy.com. "10 Worst Parents on TV."(March 20, 2011)http://entertainment.comedy.com/2010/03/02/10-worst-parents-on-tv/
  • Henegar, Justin. "Bad Parenting: A History."Sept. 16, 2010. (March 20, 2011) Uberstorm.com.http://www.uberstorm.com/site/section-blog/54-tv/78-bad-parenting-a-history.html
  • Keller, Richard. "The Five: Worst TV Dads."June 18, 2006. (March 19, 2011) TVsquad.com.http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/06/18/the-five-worst-tv-dads/
  • ShareTV.org. "Charlie Harper."(March 20, 2011)http://sharetv.org/shows/two_and_a_half_men/cast/charlie_harper
  • Stack, Tim. "Bad Parenting."Dec. 16, 2005. (March 20, 2011) EW.com.http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1141361,00.html
  • TV Squad. "Worst TV Moms."May 1, 2009. (March 19, 2011)http://www.tvsquad.com/2009/05/01/worst-tv-moms/
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  • TV.com. "Bewitched: Show Summary."(March 19, 2011) TV.com.http://www.tv.com/bewitched/show/140/summary.html
  • Ultimate Dallas. "Character Biographies: JR Ewing."(March 19, 2011) UltimateDallas.com.http://www.ultimatedallas.com/characters/jrbio3.htm

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