Acceptance of and within Modern Family
I have always been intrigued by the show Modern Family because the goal of this series is to promote a non-traditional family’s success and happiness: there is not supposed to be a traditional, nuclear family at the forefront of this narrative. Rather, homosexual relationships, adoption, interracial marriages, step-children, and more, are seen as acceptable—even admirable. I think that this is a huge step for television, as shows have mostly adhered to the stereotypical family in order to display an ideal that almost all members of the audience which they could obtain.
Personally, I have not heard much backlash against this show for presenting “abnormal” relationships. What is ironic, however, is the fact that while the people around me don’t seem to find these portrayals offensive, characters in the show do—namely Mitchell’s father, Jay, who disapproves of his son’s homosexuality. The instance of a father who does not accept his child’s sexuality is all too familiar. Luckily, however, everyone else in the Pritchett family is accepting of Mitchell’s relationship with Cam. Perhaps by presenting both a positive and a negative reaction to homosexuality, the producers hope to reach a broader audience. I do not think this is the case, though— I think that Mitchell’s and Cam’s marriage is meant to provide humor, but without focusing on the fact that they are gay. Either way, homosexual marriages with children become acceptable. I think a similar thing occurs with Jay’s marriage to the younger Latina Gloria. Claire seems to look down upon this marriage because Gloria is so much younger than Jay, but we later learn that this disdain is mostly because Claire is jealous of Gloria and resentful that her parents did not have a happy marriage.
I think that the acceptance of Modern Family’s rejection of the “normal” family comes from the fact that its humor is relatable because all families are somewhat dysfunctional like the Pritchetts and Dunphys. Regardless of race, age, or sexuality, families have troubles but still love each other in the end. By creating non-nuclear families, this show is relatable to everyone, even if it is stereotypical and thus possibly offensive in some aspects. Yet, it is possible that the portrayal of a stereotypical family is more damaging than a presentation of individuals in Modern Family: in Leave it to Beaver, “we know that the Cleavers represent an ideal rather than a norm, and one that confines and constricts individuality” (Kutulas). Thus, by eradicating this possibility by removing the traditional family, this series allows for individual growth and interpersonal belonging. We see that all the characters make mistakes but are still loved, which still creates an American ideal, but this is a much more realistic dream for viewers to hope for.
Kutulas, Judy. “Who Rules the Roost?” The Sitcom Reader: America Re-viewed, Still Skewed. Ed. Mary M. Dalton and Laura R. Linder. Albany: State U of New York, 2016. N. pag. Print.