ABC’s Modern Family reinforces societal gender roles and cements dominant beliefs about homosexual relationships. The show, which is consistently ranked as an extremely popular and highly critically acclaimed show, has the unique and powerful ability to both create and reinforce gender beliefs because of its large audience.
Modern Family strengthens societal needs to label homosexual relationships with the inclusion of hetero-normativity through their portrayal of the show’s couple, Mitchell and Cameron. The popular show felt the need to include gender specific characteristics with the couple, portraying Mitchell as the male role, while having Cameron exhibit feminine qualities. Cameron takes on the role of a female through child care and work life. He is a man who is seen as overly emotional and self-conscious about his weight. Likewise, he is referred to as the “woman” of the relationship by his father-in-law, Jay Pritchett. Furthermore, we are constantly reminded that the couple is not necessarily “traditional” in terms of a “modern” family. In one of the early episodes, Mitchell and Cameron, while discussing how they would like to raise their adopted child, make note that she cannot have a normal life: “that gay cruise ship has sailed.” More so, as the show has progressed, it has become increasingly evident that gender roles in relation to homosexuality are based stereotypically, and do not challenge these often irrelevant beliefs. As well, the female characters, as well as the “female” role that Cameron assumes, are the caretakers of the family. Cameron, Gloria and Claire are all stay-at-home parents. All three characters are responsible for the kids, and while the men are heavily involved in their children’s lives, the women are shown as the more involved parent.
The show has developed a massive following, and attempts to reach out to several key demographic areas, all of which can be attributed to the unprecedented success achieved by the Dunphy clan. However, through the show’s compliance to society’s gender roles and the way homosexual relationships can be manipulated to fit societal expectations, in these ways at least, Modern Family ultimately supports the status quo and does not effectively challenge it.
By: Matt Morehouse