The ABC sitcom Modern Family takes non-traditional families and creates a traditional sitcom. The show is naturally progressive as it is indeed about modern families. However, Modern Family did a reported television first in the latest episode of the eighth season by casting a transgender actor to play a transgender character.
Jackson Millarker plays Tom, a friend that Lily (Cam and Mitchell’s daughter) invites over for a play date. Cam and Mitchell overhear Lily making fun of Tom and they (wrongly) fear it is because Tom is transgender. Cam and Mitchell then go into panic mode about Lily’s attitudes and try to figure out where they “went wrong”. However, it eventually comes out that Lily called Tom a weirdo because he had made fun of the mural in Lily’s room. Once Cam and Mitchell realize this, their fears are then put to rest.
(Still from the opening of Modern Family)
I think the plot of the episode was very stereotypical for a sitcom with a transgender actor. I also think the creators of Modern Family acknowledge this as the episode is titled “A stereotypical Day”. I don’t think that it is too surprising that Modern Family would have a transgender role in the show because of the progressive nature of the show. However, that does not take away from the fact that it is a progressive mark for sitcoms. I think this will open up the opportunity for other shows to realize that they too can have a transgender character in a show and the world won’t end.
Modern Family is a sitcom that truly is not afraid of being progressive. I think the show serves as a great example for other sitcoms that there is no longer a need to follow a traditional mold for a sitcom.
Personally, I love the show. I know that whichever episode I’m watching, I’ll end up laughing. The show has grown throughout the eight seasons and I’ve never found it boring. I hope they continue on with the progressive nature of the show as they are a great example to follow. Hopefully more and more sitcoms will start taking notes on how progressiveness is popular in a traditional sitcom.
– Katie Thevenow