Good dads keep their princesses away from cursed castles and octopus-witches.
This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year-old daughter who hopefully prefer the princesses with a strong sense of filial piety.
This weekend we celebrated my daughter’s fourth birthday. Last year we set a dangerous precedent by bringing in not one, but TWO princesses to sing and lead games. (I won’t tell you which two, but as you might guess, the cold doesn’t bother them. Anyway…) This year we had to keep up the pace, and so we had two more special guests at the party–a very patient and talented little mermaid and a ballgown-ed beauty, both from Storybook Princess Parties.
My daughter wore a Belle dress during the party, and as the Princesses held court I realized how happy I am that her favorite Princess is Belle–because Belle has a very healthy relationship with her father throughout that movie. Ariel less so, although they reconcile. It got me thinking about all the Disney dads, so I decided to do some mental math on how the Disney Kings stack up. Below are my rankings of all these royal dudes and their parenting prowess.
Before we begin, here’s who I’m leaving out of the ranking:
Animal dads. They aren’t human and their kids aren’t princesses. Which leaves out a few great dads, such as Marlin, the hero of “Finding Nemo”; the super fertile and pro-adoption Pongo in “101 Dalmatians”; Darth Vader-voiced murder victim Mufasa; Bambi’s rather distant dad and whomever fathered foxy Maid Marian in “Robin Hood.”
Pixar dads. Sorry, Mr. Incredible.
Dads of “Forgotten Princesses.” This includes the fathers of Esmeralda from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Tiger Lily from “Peter Pan” and Meg from “Hercules.” These princesses’ bad box office numbers (and the general unpleasantness of the Indian stuff in “Peter Pan”), gets them booted from most lists.
This also leaves off some good dads like the father of Jane in “Tarzan” (a bumbly scientist dad who is very encouraging of his daughter). We don’t see Princess Eilonwy’s dad from the terrifying 1985 fantasy/zombie movie “The Black Cauldron,” but I’m sure if he had been in it he would have had a sword, been super violent and had a Welsh name with, like, four “I’s” in it. And I also don’t rank Princess Kida’s dad, Kashekim, from “Atlantis: The Lost Empire.” That dad tried to weaponize an ancient crystal, resulting in the death of his wife, but he was voiced by Leonard Nimoy, which makes Kashekim either awesome, Galvatron or both.
So here are the Disney Princesses’ dads from worst to best:
11 and 12. Cinderella’s dad and Snow White’s dad
“Cinderella” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
It’s a tie for last between these two classic Disney bad dads. Cindy’s dad chose Lady Tremaine as his second wife and then promptly died, leaving Cinderella to live with his poor choices. Lady Tremaine would go on to give stepmothers a bad name for all time. He probably should have known she was a poor choice in a wife, given that she named her cat LUCIFER. A woman who names her cat after the Prince of Darkness will likely not be warm and fuzzy towards your kid.
Snow White’s dad also had lousy taste in second wives, as Snow White’s stepmother has both a magic mirror who warns her if anyone is hotter than she is and a personal assassin for chopping the hearts out of 14-year-olds. Luckily for Snow White, Humbert the Huntsman was bad at his job.
10. The Sultan of Agrabah
Sure, he’s cute and squishy, but he kind of hates the poor and let an evil Vizier run him like Karl Rove ran George W. Bush. He also loves arranged marriages, which trips up many of these Disney dads.
9. The King of Arendelle
Here’s another one that meant well, but telling your daughter she’s a dangerous monster who needs to bury her feelings and powers way down deep is not the way to raise an emotionally healthy little girl. Combine that with death by shipwreck and you get one daughter who freezes over the kingdom and runs off to live with a giant Wampa in a remote ice castle with no apparent food source, and another daughter who wants to get married on the first date. I’m assuming both girls had a lot of tattoos, as well.
8. King Stefan
Stefan certainly loved his kid — he commanded his whole kingdom to celebrate Aurora’s birth, which is tyrannical, but endearing. Unfortunately he forgot that not inviting the evil sorceress Maleficent is a poor choice, and his baby got cursed. He also doesn’t employ the best Defense Against the Dark Arts staff members–his three weird little witch employees take Aurora away from her mother for 16 years and STILL let her get a sleeping whammy put on her after Stefan has her brought back ONE DAY TOO EARLY. Stefan is a bad manager and a poor strategist.
7. The King of Corona
Here’s another King who pisses off witches and then can’t keep them out of his castle. He has a lovely annual balloon ceremony for his missing daughter, but can’t seem to find her despite her being in a giant tower just a few miles from his house.
6. Chief Powhatan
Okay, being the daughter of a chief doesn’t REALLY make you a Princess, and Pocahontas doesn’t get much Disney love because she doesn’t move hoop skirts at Target, but she’s got a pretty cool dad who listens to her when she tells him not kill her boyfriend and all the Europeans hell-bent on plunder. (Although, she may have been wrong on the second point, given history and all … )
“Beauty and the Beast”
“Crazy Old Maurice” encourages intellectual curiosity in his daughter. Is he a bumbler who requires saving more than once? Yes, but he’s kind, and voiced by Mr. Cunningham, who was a good enough dad to let Fonzie live above his garage.
“The Little Mermaid”
Triton hates humans, which is probably a bad thing, and overreacts to his daughter’s shenanigans, which is also probably bad. Ariel DOES hang out with sea witches, though, and messes up so badly Triton has to allow himself to be turned into a polyp to save her life. Only a great dad would allow himself to be turned into something that usually grows in a colon. Polyp = Gross.
3. King Fergus
King Fergus is probably a better dad than husband, since he is a bit of a “cool dad” and let’s Elinor be the bad cop, but he also lost a leg protecting his daughter from a bear. Belle’s dad let her MARRY a bear. (Or a buffalo or something.) Oh, and he gave his daughter weapons for her birthday, which, again, is cool, but irresponsible.
2. Fa Zhou
This guy was prepared to go to war when conscripted even with a bum leg, and he loves his rebellious daughter. When she joins the army to save his life (and saves China in the process), he says “the greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter.” I hope I can use that line on my daughter without her having go to infantry training lead by Donny Osmond.
“The Princess and the Frog”
Coming at the end of the popularity of 2-D animation (before all princesses became identical-looking giant-eyeball monsters), I think this is an undervalued movie. James is Tiana’s inspiration for opening a restaurant and he taught her a remarkable work ethic despite getting a raw deal in his own life. He also died in World War I, earning a Distinguished Service Cross (which probably put him in the all-African-American 370th Infantry Regiment, for you WWI buffs.)
Let me know what you think of the list in the comments below. In the meantime, I’m going to try and raise my daughter without being caught in a shipwreck, eaten by a bear or turned into a polyp. I’ll start by not forcing her to be married just to shore up my power base … princesses hate that.
If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe (free!) to The Paternity Test Comedy Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud, or visit www.paternitypodcast.com.
Follow the Dads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and on Twitter at @thedadtest or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call The Paternity Test on their hotline: (657) BAD DADS and leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast!