Seth: "Please, please, this is so painful for me!"
Kirsten: "Hey Sandy, doesn't Seth look rad?"
Sandy: "Oh, you do look rad! Mad props, son."
But they don't exist merely to humiliate their son. As a husband and wife, their love for each other rings truer than it does on a lot of other family dramas. One scene has Kirsten asking Sandy if they're in a rut.
Sandy: "No, we're in a marriage."
Kirsten: "It's just that ... we finish each other's sentences, we always know what the other's thinking."
Sandy: "Aww, that's my favorite part."
No role models here
Can you imagine how TV would be if all the parents were as cool as Sandy and Kirsten Cohen? Well, even that would get old. Truth is, the bad apples make it fun to watch. Here's our salute to a few of the worst parents on TV.
Julie Cooper, "The O.C." Such fun, that Julie -- she's a lying, selfish, manipulative, materialistic, marrying-for-money, world-class liar -- AND she slept with her daughter's ex-boyfriend. She's not bad, she's just written that way.
Homer and Marge Simpson, "The Simpsons" We all know Homer is more of a missing link than a parental role model. But let's not overlook Marge's maternal ineptitude. Once, when Lisa was so sad she didn't feel like smiling, Marge advised: "Well, it doesn't matter how you feel inside, you know? It's what shows up on the surface that counts. ...Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all the way down, past your knees until you're almost walking on them. And then you'll fit in, and you'll be invited to parties, and boys will like you, and happiness will follow."
Jack and Laura Bristow/Irina Derevko, "Alias" Let's see. Parents are double, triple or quadruple agents. Dad brainwashed her as a child. Mom shot her. Ah, nothing says familial love like traumatic deception and a gaping bullet wound.
George and Lucille Bluth, "Arrested Development" Dad committed light treason by building homes for Saddam Hussein; Mom is as cold as a frozen banana on a stick.
Paul Young, "Desperate Housewives" Had his son committed to an institution and medicated like a zombie for no good reason. He's not much of a neighbor, either: he bludgeoned the nosy Martha Huber to death with a blender. Oopsie.
Cotton Hill, "King of the Hill" The angry little stump of a man spawned a baby boy, whom he named Hank ("Always wanted a boy named Hank.") When his older son, also named Hank, pointed out the obvious, Cotton solved the problem by calling the baby "Good Hank."
Livia Soprano, "The Sopranos" Tony Soprano's mother, played by the incomparable Nancy Marchand, was a monster. When I think of the scene where she slowly buzzes down the stairs on her motorized chair -- evil incarnate -- I still get chills. Classic line: "Power? What power? I don't have power. I'm a shut-in."
The parents on the Peanuts specials Who, on Thanksgiving, leaves their kids alone so they're forced to forage for their own Thanksgiving meal, which they make out of toast and popcorn?