Father's Day is just around the corner, which means you've probably been seeing an upswing in ads for power tools, barbecuing equipment, and other stereotypical "dad" stuff. Maybe you've already found the perfect Father's Day gift for your dad. Maybe you're still looking. Or maybe you totally forgot it was coming up. If you're looking for a low-key way to celebrate all he's done for you, here are some excellent TV episodes to watch with your dad on Father's Day and bond over all of your favorite on-screen relationships that you've both grown to love.
My own dad is a fan of Star Trek, Law and Order, and old westerns. For us, watching TV is our No. 1 father/daughter activity. He got me to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I got him to watch Game of Thrones. We’ll call each other up about a movie we just saw — usually either an Alfred Hitchcock film or a '90s teen rom-com — that the other one just has to see. We’ve binge-watched Degrassi, Veep, and the Twilight movies together. He made a valiant attempt to get me into Premier League soccer, but that one didn’t quite take. Personally, I can't think of a better way to celebrate him than by vegging out together with some of TV's greatest fatherhood stories. For example...
1. Modern Family: "Party Crasher"
Phil Dunphy may be the most lovable TV dad of the 21st century, which makes him perfect for this list. When he's not busy proving he's the coolest dad ever, he's doing everything to give his children a great upbringing. So he's understandably bothered when Haley, who has just dropped out of college, starts dating a middle-aged guy (the always great Jason Mantzoukas). Phil's claws rarely come out, but boy do they ever when he's forced to watch his little girl go arm-in-arm with every father's worst nightmare.
2. 30 Rock: "Kidney Now!"
If you're still looking for the perfect gift for your dad, I bet you wish you had the full force of NBC at your disposal like 30 Rock's Jack Donaghy does. Jack is initially disappointed when, upon meeting his father for the first time, they don't appear to have much in common. Extra-corporate, elitist, Republican Jack instantly clashes with his Jimmy Carter-loving hippie father Milton (played by Alan Alda). But the timing couldn't be better for Milton, who needs a new kidney. It turns out Jack isn't a donor match, so he organizes an entire television benefit to find his dad a kidney. The results are pretty fantastic, with guest stars including Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, and Mary J. Blige.
3. Jane the Virgin: "Chapter 12"
You should probably watch the first eleven episodes of Jane the Virgin before starting "Chapter 12," not just because you might be a little confused, but also because it's all wonderful. But if you're just looking for a nice episode for Father's Day, this one will do quite nicely. The entire show deals with the theme of parenthood, but "Chapter 12" is a particularly sweet episode for Jane and her father Rogelio.
Like Jack Donaghy, Jane isn't incredibly impressed with the father that has just come into her life. Rogelio, a vain but lovable telenovela star, just wants to be a part of his daughter's life, now that he finally knows she exists. He gets her a job on his show, but things get awkward when she's tasked with writing an episode where he dies. Though quite reasonably upset, in the end he accepts it and just asks that she give him a great death scene. Which she does, leading to a wonderful moment of bonding between the two of them.
4. Master of None: "Parents"
If you haven't watched Master of None yet, you need to head to Netflix right now and start immediately. The fantastic Aziz Ansari stars as struggling actor Dev, in a series comprised of thoughtful, hilarious stories about his life in New York City. In the second episode of Season 1, "Parents," Dev and his friend Brian come to realize how little they appreciate the struggles their immigrant parents have gone through to get where they are now. What's more, Ansari's actual mother and father guest star in the episode as Dev's adorable parents. It's incredibly sweet and moving, and makes us realize how much we should appreciate our parents.
5. Parks and Recreation: "1 in 8,000"
Even though we don't get to see all that much of Ben and Leslie's life with their kids on Parks and Rec, you just know they'd make great parents. Before they actually become parents, though, there's all the stressing that comes with suddenly realizing you're about to have a kid. In this episode, late in Season 6, the Pawnee power couple learn they're going to be having triplets, and Ben is tasked with acting as Leslie's "Stress Shamwow" so that she doesn't overexert herself. Naturally Ben, the nerdy little stress-ball that he is, doesn't deal with it incredibly well. Any parent, not just those with triplets, can relate to the inevitable freakout Ben goes through as a dad-to-be.
6. The Simpsons: "And Maggie Makes Three"
Homer Simpson has never really been a consistently good dad, but he does have his moments, like in this episode from Season 6. That's right, this is old-school Simpsons. We're talking back in 1995. Homer and Marge recall getting pregnant with perpetual baby Maggie just after Homer quit his miserable but well-paying job at Mr. Burns' nuclear plant. Homer realizes he can't support a family of five on the salary from his dream job (in a bowling alley), and must go to Mr. Burns on his hands and knees to beg for his old job back. Homer isn't too sad, though, because he knows why he's doing it: for his daughter. An episode like this will remind you why our fathers deserve a holiday in the first place.
7. Black-ish: "Daddy's Day"
All Dre Johnson ever wants is what's best for his kids, but he wouldn't mind a little appreciation for all his hard work now and then. Can you blame him? As Dre accurately points out in this episode, Father's Day is frequently overshadowed by Mother's Day due to the two being so close together. So he decides to change things — by creating a new holiday, Daddy's Day, in October, and by trying to get his unenthusiastic daughter Zoey in on it. It doesn't really work, but also sort of does, with a very touching conclusion. Maybe Daddy's Day should go on our calendars? (Eh, maybe not.)
8. That 70's Show: "Hunting"
Forman family patriarch Red isn't exactly the world's most supportive dad. He's rude and sarcastic, and sometimes pushes the meaning of the phrase "tough love" a bit farther than he should. But he's also a fierce papa bear who'll do anything for his family. In this episode of That 70's Show, Red takes a reluctant Eric hunting, leading to a confrontation between the two over Red's parenting style, which isn't so popular with Eric. In a rare, brief moment of sobriety for the show, Red acknowledges respect for his son that is definitely worthy of watching.
9. Louie: "Looking for Liz/Lilly Changes"
Divorced dads are sadly underrepresented in television, which is one of the reasons Louis CK's Louie is so important. Louie episodes are often broken into two parts, featuring the quiet but crude observational comedy of Louis CK as the title character navigates both dating life and taking care of his two daughters. You might not expect it, but Louie proves to be a patient and caring father, like when he patiently listens to and cracks up at his daughters' endless string of terrible knock-knock jokes. The "Lilly Changes" part of this episode goes kind of like a brief, R-rated version of Finding Nemo when Louie worries his daughter has run away after they have a fight. Any parent can relate to that moment of terror Louie has when he realizes his daughter isn't there.
10. The Flash: "Fastest Man Alive"
Sometimes, being a father doesn't have anything to do with blood relations. If you've seen The Flash, you know that's the case between Barry Allen and Joe West, who took Barry in after his mother was killed and his father was sent to prison. "Fastest Man Alive," the second episode of the series, deals with Joe's initial unhappiness with Barry's new role as a superhero. In the end, Joe agrees to support Barry in whatever he does, just like any dad would. We also hear from Barry's father through flashbacks and even get a third father figure (kind of) in the super-shady Harrison Wells. What's especially great about The Flash is that it's kind of ageless: no matter how old your dad is, he's probably at least somewhat familiar with the Flash and the rest of the Justice League, so it's a wonderful episode for the two of you to share.
11. This is Us: "Memphis"
If you're looking for a more serious episode for you and your dad to cry over, look no further than the This is Us episode "Memphis." While the show's episodes are usually split between the different characters and timelines, "Memphis" focuses solely on the relationship between Randall and his birth father, William. Father and son take a road trip to Memphis, where William grew up, right before he dies of cancer. This episode is packed full to the brim with father/child feels. To be honest, if you're not crying by the end of it, you're probably a soulless demon.
Suffice to say, there are plenty of great episodes to choose from to watch with your dad on Father's Day. Though, let's be honest, these episodes are totally worth enjoying any other day of the year as well.