TV Series Review
First comes love. Then comes cohabitation. Then comes an adopted baby in a baby carriage. And then there's a same-sex marriage, thanks to the California Supreme Court.
But that's only part of the family dynamic on display in Modern Family. The much-lauded ABC show (it has taken home 22 Emmys, including five straight Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series between 2010 and 2014), done in a quasi-documentary format, focuses on three interrelated West Coast families loosely helmed by patriarch Jay Pritchett. Married to Gloria Delgado, a woman many years (generations?) his junior, Jay alternately puts up with and dotes on stepson Manny and son Joseph.
Jay's two grown children, Claire and Mitchell, have their own families. Claire is married to a well-meaning goofball (Phil), and together they nurtured three kids in the show's most traditional representation of a nuclear family—and in its most laughably chaotic.
Mitchell, on the other hand, has been crafted to demonstrate what love, support, rationality and good judgment look like as he nurtures an adopted child (Lily) with his husband, Cameron.
It's all an expression of what ABC believes a "modern family" is all about, and the results are both bitter and sweet … funny and sobering.
While we see the love and affection that these parents have for their kids and for each other, this show can plow through some pretty problematic fields: Sexual double entendres run through episodes like loosed dogs, and many scenes are pitted with mild profanity.
Then there's the issue of Mitchell and Cameron—a couple of guys who seem to simultaneously embody and refute gay stereotypes. In one episode, Cam gets upset because most of their friends and family see him as the "mother" of the couple. In another early episode, when he's worried Lily might say an embarrassing word at a wedding, he suggests they beg out of the thing, saying they're not attending any weddings until homosexuals get equal rights.
"Oh, we're political now?" Mitchell says. "We leave town on Gay Pride weekend because we don't like the traffic."
'Course, things are different now, and Mitch and Cam's relationship has been legally recognized—a real-world sign of the changes this TV show has both chronicled and, perhaps, helped bring about. There's nothing out of the ordinary about their relationship, ABC tells us. Mitch and Cam merely want to be great parents to their adopted girl, and they try to support each other as best they can through life's trials and tribulations. Their families have, more or less, come to terms with their homosexuality. And so have this series' fans.
Times, They Have a Changed
In 1997, Ellen made huge waves when the titular character came out as a lesbian. Will & Grace, a sitcom based on the friendship of a heterosexual woman and a homosexual man, came out one year later (and is currently enjoying a rebooted run that's nearly as popular now as it was the first time around). Both shows created quite a stir—gaining notoriety for their simple "gayness." Both, in their own ways, pandered and felt self-conscious.
Now, many TV series routinely feature homosexual characters—so often, in fact, that not much is made of it. A recent study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation suggests that people's attitudes toward homosexuality have become more favorable in the last several years. And a third of those surveyed said their attitude shift was due, in large part, because of the positive gay characters found on the tube.
"As the networks gradually add characters from all backgrounds and all walks of life to primetime programming, more and more Americans are seeing their LGBT friends and neighbors reflected on the small screen," GLAAD president Neil Giuliano told USA Today in 2008. And that's now even more true 10 years later.
Mitchell and Cameron are now just part of the landscape. And that says a lot about how TV has changed. About how our whole culture has changed with it and around it.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
+Modern Family: Jan 10, 2018 "Dear Beloved Family"
Readability Age Range
Ed O'Neill as Jay Pritchett; Sofía Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett; Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy; Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy; Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett; Eric Stonestreet as Cameron