Modern Family’s undeniable appeal as an American sitcom has only been bolstered by its mass appeal to “Middle America.” However, as the sitcom enters its jogging days and episodes reach a relative plateau, it’s time for the writers to take a stand.
While ABC may be content with having a confident juggernaut to reign in the Two And A Half Men audiences left adrift by the recent debauchery, those who are hungry for the heights achieved during the first season know this most recent batch of episodes just won’t cut it. Largely in part due to the shows very limited scope of vision and the complacent nature of settling for limited story for the sake of expanding old material. (i.e., Jay is old/Gloria isn’t, Phil is oddly effeminate and hilariously oblivious, and is Luke still an idiot or adorably self-aware?)
My issue this time around lies with the portion of the family who receives the least attention…or maybe just a different KIND of attention. Mitchell and Cam, the gay couple, are being written into stagnant roles due to their…proclivities?
However, the gay taboo is beginning to grow old. Those friendly to the LGBT cause feel an obligation to include it, and the rest feel the opposite. As if for some reason including two girls kissing is some how provocative or too racy for (primetime) television. A campaign was launched online demanding a smooch between the two, as the other pairs in the sitcom PDA is now commonplace. (Even Ed O’Neill gets a peck or two at Sofía Vergara every so often.)
Sitcoms seem to take one side of the coin or the other. You either include a token gay character(s) to allow access to that side of comedy, (while allowing for constant comedic relief to allow your more stuffy viewers to laugh around the subject) or you make it specifically about being gay. For some reason it’s like you have to be either Will & Grace or The Office. Maybe this is an unfair perspective when examining primetime, but it is certainly the line Modern Family is juggling.
Not to speak ill of the writers, you might even say they deserve to be commended for creating and (somewhat) developing not one, but a couple of strong, gay central characters. But like I said before, as Modern Family settles into the routine that will be repeated over the course of its numerous seasons to come, the writers must not become complacent in allowing Mitchell and Cam to provide stereotypically gay, almost slapstick, comedic relief. These actors are both very deserving of their roles and if given the chance, can be developed into something other than the Will & Grace model of humor.
The mere fact that this taboo exists is a stain upon our society. Even the idea that “gay” characters must somehow be handled or written differently than “straight” characters is preposterous, but as long as Americans remain ignorant to their very core this conversation, sadly, is one that has to be had. In living rooms and in script meetings.
All I’m asking is that we not invent a character’s fear of public affection in order to write an entire episode every time two dudes want to kiss one another (‘The Kiss’.) I’m pretty sure (Emmy award-winning) Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson can lock lips for 2 seconds while the middle of the country closes their eyes to what is truly a Modern Family.