Modern Family Breaking New Ground…Again.


In Chapter 2 of the reading, Judy Kutulas explains the evolution of the sitcom family by stating: “Our families today look and function differently from the way they did when the family sitcom began, as does the relationship between series and audience. We are more diverse as a nation and able to control when and how we watch any show which naturally influences the sitcom’s presentation. Family sitcoms no longer really model or teach how to be good or normal American families. Instead, they confirm our flaws, reveal our differences, and yet still support the unconditional love at the heart of families, whether the families are biological, blended, or otherwise constructed.”

Modern Family is the perfect example of how much the sitcom family has evolved over the years. In the three main families in the show-who are all members of the same extended family- there are many different demographics and types of people. In the one family, there are gay fathers whose daughter is adopted. In the next, there is a goofy father that differs from the white collar breadwinner in the typical sitcom decades ago. His wife holds a job and acts more so like the boss of the family then he does and therefore is not playing the traditional household role that many women played in sitcoms in the 1950s. Their children vary from the stereotypical attractive and popular kid to the smart, nerdy kid to the funny, goofball kid. The last family of the 3 features an elderly man with an attractive wife that is much younger than him. They have a child of their own and a child that the wife has from a past marriage, as well as a dog. Within these 3 families, there are so many types of relationships and familial situations that would never have been depicted in a 1950’s sitcom. In today’s world however, this sitcom is extremely popular because it appeals to society today as society has progressed and diversified a lot since the 1950’s.

Modern Family recently made the news as they hired Jackson Millarker, an 8 year old actor who is transgender, to play a role in an upcoming episode.

It has just been announced that when Modern Family returns to the air, they will feature an episode in which Lily, the adopted daughter of the gay couple Cam and Mitchell, has a transgender friend over. The show has casted a transgender actor to play the role and in doing so, have set a precedent in the television world. The show has always been popular and well liked for being so socially progressive, and this is just another action that proves how progressive it is. I expect and hope that the show will receive praise for doing this as  the lack of transgender actors in television and film has been talked about a decent amount recently. Modern Family continues to lead the television industry in a movement toward reaching a more diverse and accepting Hollywood and TV industry.


Max Lissette

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10 Responses to Modern Family Breaking New Ground…Again.

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I think it is amazing that they are casting an ACTUAL transgender child to play a transgender role. Often in Hollywood we see that trans roles are given to straight and/or gender conforming actors. I agree with you when you say this will set a precedent. While we have had Laverne Cox play a role in Orange is the New Black, we have yet to have a substantial trans role in a familial sitcom. It will be interesting to see what Modern Family does with it. – Andrew Guido

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I am so excited to see how this episode plays out! I think that Modern Family has done a great job in the past, incorporating families of diverse backgrounds blended families, and families to two homosexual parents into the show as we see with Gloria & Jay, and Mitchell & Cameron. With this new addition of a transgender role in the show, they are truly living up to their name of “Modern Family”, pushing the limits of television sitcoms and challenging the status quo. I find it very touching that a show this popular is willing to take this step, and I only hope that it receives positive reviews and support after it airs.

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Though this is amazing, I just can’t help but think that this is such a low standard for “ground breaking.” Literally letting someone who actually fits a role play it should not be the threshold for revolutionary. I also can’t help but be worried that this will be an essencializing role, one where the main focus is that this child is transgendered instead of developing a whole and complex character. But this is awesome compared to the low standard that television has set for itself. Maybe someone actually heard Jeffery Tambour in his Emmy speech.

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I am so glad that an actor who actually identifies as transgender will be on the show–I feel like this was a topic that was discussed a lot last week during the Emmys. What I love about Modern Family is how it challenges so many ideologies that we have learned about in our reading. By having multiple families they allow the story-line to continually challenge traditional gender roles, same sex marriage, or the household wife. The collaboration of different, blended families modernizes the sitcom while also making it so much more compelling.
    – Ziba

  5. mediaphiles says:

    WOW! I had not heard about this, but I am so excited. Modern Family breaks down so many walls for so many groups, I’m happy that they’ve added transgender people to the list. Allowing people to see people who are different from themselves in a “normal” setting, such as a sitcom they frequently watch, is the best way to generate organic acceptance.
    Karly Morgan

  6. mediaphiles says:

    Modern family is living up to its name… I love that you wrote about this episode (maybe moreso because I also incorporated Modern Family into my blog this week) for so many reasons. It makes me think, also, of Kristina’s post about Louie and 3 masculinity representations in one episode. This seems shocking when you contrast it to the fifties, but continuous strides toward equal representation and “organic acceptance” can not come in these “small bites” any longer or we won’t make any progress. – Corey

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