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“Modern Family” is Not So Modern, After All

Modern Family, ABC’s original mockumentary sitcom, first started airing in 2009. Since its premiere, the show has remained popular and well-loved by critics and viewers. It has won 61 awards in total, so yeah, Modern Family is a great show.

Or so I thought.

I started watching Modern Family last year because there are so many Modern Family gifs on Tumblr and I thought, “Why not check it out?”

At first, I liked it. It was funny, to be honest, and somewhat realistic—even though it can seem like it’s very exaggerated at times. Nonetheless, I really liked it.

I only started seeing the problematic side of it after binge-watching through the first and second seasons. I brushed it off at first. I was convinced that it was ‘just a joke’, but then I started realizing that such jokes are actually harmful.

Here’s a list of why Modern Family is very, very problematic:

  • There are only three important PoC characters in the entire show: Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, Manny Delgado, and Lily Tucker-Pritchett. It’s worth mentioning that they are all light-skinned.
  • Said PoC characters have been the punchline of the jokes so many times.
  • Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett, a gay couple who are the adoptive father of Lily, make a lot of queerphobic statements. Cameron is a very stereotypical gay man. He’s feminine, great in fashion and music, and dramatic. They are often the punchline of the jokes too.
  • The Dunphy family, who consists of Phil Dunphy (the father), Claire Dunphy (the mother), Haley Dunphy (the eldest sister), Alex Dunphy (the middle sister) and Luke Dunphy (the youngest son), are often very insensitive and pretty much the stereotypical middle-upper-class white family.
  • Phil and Luke often say and/or do chauvinistic things; in the episode where the female Dunphys were having their periods at the same time, for example. Phil and Luke avoided them like they were the plague, instead of dealing with it like adults.
  • Claire often makes fun of her brother, Mitchell Pritchett, for his sexuality. She’s also a working mother and the show makes her career affect her attention towards her family, especially her husband. The show sends a message that working wives can’t be as loving as housewives.
  • Alex and Haley very rarely get along and they always throw misogynistic insults. The show also makes Haley fall into the popular girl’s stereotype: dumb (Haley dropped out of college), wild, sexually promiscuous and indecisive. The same thing happens to Alex, the nerdy girl: a borderline genius with barely any social life and not very attractive to the other characters.
  • Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, the wife to Jay Pritchett, is a Latina who is overly sexualised in the show. The show also fits her in the Latina stereotype: she speaks English poorly, constantly refers to the crimes she did in Colombia and being much younger than Jay, the other adult characters frequently joke about her being a golddigger.
  • Jay Pritchett, the father of Claire and Mitchell, is sometimes extremely homophobic and misogynistic. Such dialogues from him are peppered in almost every episode that you might get used to it.

Modern Family’s concept is progressive and it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still very far from the message intended.I still really like the show, but it would be nice if we could have a show that represents such families without the stereotypes. We deserve a show that can represent women, PoC and the LGBTQ community without the characters having to fall into demeaning stereotypes.

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Salsabilla Hasina
Written By

Salsabilla is a sixteen-year-old Piscean girl from Indonesia. Other than being a hardcore feminist, she's also a very tired high school student. She wants to be a Harvard-graduate with her average GPA. In her free time, she likes to watch TV shows, take three hour naps, and cry thinking about her future. She dreams of a peaceful world where people love each other and tacos are free.

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