With all the insight of a grownup and none of the responsibility, uncles have it pretty great. Whether they’re leading by example or lack thereof, they can teach kids a lot...even when they're just actors appearing on sitcoms. Here's useful and important advice we learned about the real world from our favorite TV uncles.
Uncle Fester ("The Addams Family")
The lesson: It's what's on the inside that counts
Given his creepy appearance, his gross name and his generally bizarre vibe, Uncle Fester might make people feel uncomfortable at first -- but he was always kind, avoided conflict, treated his niece Wednesday and nephew Pugsley with great affection, and had many other less obvious charms, such as doubling as a lamp. Just because someone looks a little strange, it's their personality we should really be noticing.
Uncle Leo ("Seinfeld")
The lesson: Accept your family for who they are, because they're never changing
Oh, Uncle Leo. Whenever he made semi-senile appearance on the show, it reminded us that -- like Jerry -- we can choose our friends, but we can't choose our family. No matter how annoying they can be, you've gotta love them anyways...and should, in Leo's words, "Always say hello."
Uncle Fred ("I Love Lucy")
The lesson: Keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind
Fred Mertz got a reputation as a penny-pincher, but that's only because he lost a fortune in a 1929 stock market crash, lived through the Great Depression, and knew how quickly savings can disappear. He always gave his wife Ethel a hard time about fashionable impulse buys ("What are you trying to do, make a bum out of me?"), even when he was mistaken about their actual cost:
OK, maybe he should've better trusted Ethel, but the point is, he invested his money in real estate and stocks, and was highly skeptical of frivolous purchases. Think like Fred and try to make sure you're spending wisely and saving for a rainy day.
Uncle Oscar ("Arrested Development")
The lesson: “All you need is smiles. Lots and lots of smiley smiles.”
The stoner twin of George Bluth (and man-mistress to his wife), Uncle Oscar is no saint. But his free-spirited attitude and brief songwriting career offer simple but solid advice about happiness:
It may be the ramblings of a high uncle, but it turns out that fake smiling can make you happier, according to science. Right on, Oscar.
Uncle Jesse ("Full House")
The lesson: You can be cool without being a jerk
No one comes close to topping the coolness of the frontman of Jesse and The Rippers. He's like my spirit animal's spirit animal. Everybody who watched "Full House" thought he was the most badass dude ever...and he was never the type of guy who felt the need to insult anyone to make himself look cooler in comparison.
Uncle Jesse's advice flows are generously as his hair, and comes down to one central message: The coolest type of person is someone who treats others like they're cool. The leather jacket doesn't hurt, either.
Uncle Phil ("The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air")
The lesson: Doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it's worth the effort
Philip Banks, played masterfully by the late James Avery, could be a strict disciplinarian -- but he had a solid reason for it. He's the kind of uncle who didn't just teach you how to be a man, but a good one, even schooling Will's dad on the responsibilities of fatherhood.
Uncle Phil was the show's moral center, always reminding us to follow our conscience, and he occasionally even showed his softer side -- because sometimes the only thing you can offer more valuable than advice is a dignified man hug.
You can see more of Uncle Phil on MTV’s #Throwblock, which now airs episodes of “Fresh Prince” from noon to 2 p.m. every weekday.