Why Gloria Pritchett Works?

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In chapter one of The Sitcom Reader, the textbook explains how dialect comedies did not translate well from radio to television.  This was a result of a variety of factors, namely that thick accents and stereotyping came off as quite embarrassing on the television screen.  This critique caused me to take a closer look at one of my favorite sitcom actresses (Sofia Vergara) and her role on Modern Family.  Although the book states that an exaggerated and stereotypical show as a whole does not work well, it seems that strong stereotyping now occurs in the case of specific characters, such as Gloria.  Her extremely thick accent combined with her electric and fiery personality embody many latino stereotypes.  However, although this stereotyping could be quite offensive, I personally feel that Gloria is very well received and admired as a character on the show.  Maybe it is simply her beauty, or her impeccable comedic delivery on the show, but Gloria’s stereotyping translates extremely well on television and is not at all “embarrassing.”  I think this is a testament to the sophistication of modern day sitcoms.  The first sitcoms that moved from radio to television, such as The Goldbergs, did not properly navigate a way to poke fun at the certain comedic and acceptable stereotypes of different groups of people.  Clearly as we develop more and more complex shows involving more and more types of characters, we have better trained our eye in manipulating the characteristics of the human race in hilarious ways.  I love Gloria Pritchett and I love Modern Family!

Stephanie Rubin

 

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11 Responses to Why Gloria Pritchett Works?

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I agree with Stephanie. I think our humor has become more sophisticated. However there is still quite a lot of talk in the hispanic/latino community about how Gloria is an unfair representation of their ethnicity and culture. That being said, this type of humor, in the context of Modern Family, is not overwhelming and cringe-worthy like Amos N’ Andy.
    -Kelsey Sierra

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I also think our humor has become more sophisticated but I don’t think we can ignore that people do make fun of her accent, including Sophia herself. I think that it can be argued that she is only so appealing because of her beauty and the humor that comes from her accent. Without her beauty and her accent, I do not think Sophia would be so popular and I think that is horrible.

    P.S. I love Sophia Vergara and this is definitely not a criticism of her, but more the perception of her by the media and public

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I also agree that Gloria’s character does adhere to many stereotypes; however, I also believe that her character works well with the family dynamic. There is no one else quite like Gloria. Modern Family is known for its diversity and progressivism, which includes their personalities. Gloria has the passion and the drive that a lot of characters may lack on the show. Don’t get me wrong, Phil is a very eccentric character but, compared to Gloria, he can become very reserved due to Gloria’s outspoken nature. She is very opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind, which, especially in Modern Family, is needed in a show with a wide range of personalities that incorporate various situations.

    -Shelby Halliman

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I definitely agree that her character “works”…at least we never hear of any uproar due to the stereotyping of her character. I think her personality plays a large part in this character, as she is strong, fiercely independent, smart and driven. I think if she were portrayed in a more negative light then the stereotyping would be much more evident and hurtful.
    -Sam Moore

  5. Serena says:

    I think the character works because it is a caricature, rather than a persona that Gloria takes on. Nobody talks like Gloria talks. It is exaggerated to make the character a caricature, so that is why it is not offensive. It’s not relatable in any form, therefore its funny and over the top. Its the same reason why Madea in the Tyler Perry movies is funny and not offensive. It is a blown up version of a character we all know, but it is not directly representative of any one person. If Gloria were to be slightly less pronounced with her accent, or less glamorous, we would probably find her character as offensive. –Serena Daya

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I think that her character is great, but I think it is that good because it feels very genuine. Her character feels very natural and that is something that the audience loves. Being a latino I can relate to her, and I love that. I love how you compare her to like Radio sitcoms to television sitcom adaptation, this probably wouldn’t have worked then but now we are able to make fun of more stuff than we did in the past. – Jon Baquero

  7. mediaphiles says:

    Sofia Vergara feels less controversial probably because she is actually Colombian-American too. Unlike characters who did black-face or imitated accents from regions they were not even from, Sofia’s character feels authentic. Gloria is proud of her heritage, and she can actually speak fluent Spanish, so she is not a terrible representation in my opinion. I think more sitcom families could use the diversified flair that Gloria brings to her otherwise racially homogenous family. – Andrew Guido

  8. mediaphiles says:

    I also think that perhaps the reason Gloria works so well (even if we do understand her to be a caricature) is that Sofia Vergara is Colombian and has a sort of agency that others don’t to be able to exaggerate her own accent. I think one of the most problematic aspects of the radio version of Amos and Andy is that the dialects were co-opted and exaggerated by white men who, arguably, had no right to. Whether or not the stereotypes of Latino culture she perpetuates are harmful- I’m not sure. But I do think it is helpful to have a Latina character played by an actual Latina.

    -Callie Sartain

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