Monday, March 31, 2014

Modern Family: Just Like Yours or Mine

Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd’s comedy Modern Family is about three separate yet related families.  The series shows the lives of Jay Pritchett and his second wife Gloria Delgado. She has a son Manny Delgado from her first marriage and they have an infant son, Joe.  Jay has two kids from his fist marriage Mitchell and Claire.  Mitchell and his life partner Cameron Tucker adopted their Vietnamese daughter Lily Tucker-Pritchett.  Claire and her husband Phil Dunphy have three children Haley, Alex, and Luke.  Modern Family is an attempt at showing a regular family going through life’s daily struggles.
            Modern Family gives a humorous look into the lives of this extended family as they deal with common issues such as entering college or high school, petty fights, dating, and work conflicts.  The series tries to be honest in the way it portrays these families and their interactions with each other.  Modern Family displays an accurate portrayal of a family’s interpersonal issues while still depicting female stereotypes. 

            Claire is very controlling, anxious, and overbearing.  When the series started she was a stay at home mom, which gave her the opportunity to be more involved in her children’s lives.  She does all the household chores such as cooking and cleaning which gives her the chance to snoop through her children’s rooms.  In the episode Not in My House Haley accuses Alex of looking through her diary but really it’s Claire.  Both Dunphy parents like to think of themselves as hip and cool, so Claire likes to be involved in what is going on in her children’s lives.  She also enjoys activities like driving them around so she can ease drop into their conversations.  Claire depicts the typical mother character.  She wants to know what is going on in her children’s lives, and struggles with the line between being a friend and a parent to her children. 

            Phil is a laid back father.  He likes to joke around, actively play with his children, and practice magic.  Claire is the more uptight and dominate one in their marriage.  She has the say in what overall happens with their children and sometimes she acts like a mother to Phil.  The topic of Claire going back to work is brought up after Luke and Manny have a career day at their school.  Claire says, “I thought I would be going back to work when the kids got older, but it’s not as easy as you might think.  People aren’t exactly lining up to hire a woman who is almost 40 and has been out of the job market for 15 years” (ABC).  Shortly after she decides to go back to work she but has a minor freak out about leaving her kids even though they are all old enough to fend for themselves.  She starts to work for her dad at his closet business, but feels different than her peers because she is the boss’s daughter.  Modern Family does a great job of representing a mother that took time off work when her children were young and now is going back to work, but I find it a little controversial that when she does go back to work it’s for her father.  Claire is a very strong-minded yet overly controlling woman and she seems capable of get a job on her own but to keep the comedy flowing it’s interesting to see her work together with Jay.  She tries to make sure she is not treated different than the other employees.  Claire can be obnoxious or overbearing at times but she is always depicted as a caring and loving mother and wife.
  Sofia Vergara plays Gloria, Jay’s sassy second wife.  She is the stereotypical depiction of a trophy wife.  Jay likes to show her off to his friends and Phil has a very obvious crush on her.  She always has her hair and make up done as well as dressing to show off her curvaceous body.  And she always wears some kind of high heals.  Claire often gets annoyed with Gloria and does not have the best relationship with her.  In the episode Coal Digger, Manny and Luke get into a fight at school because Manny keeps calling himself Luke’s uncle.  Later on in the episode Luke blurts out that his mom called Gloria a “gold digger.”  This causes a fight between Claire and Gloria because Gloria does not feel welcome as part of their family.  Gloria tries to hang out with Claire and do little activities with her like yoga or shopping but Claire always manages to give off a cold vibe.  Modern Family shows the awkward relationship of a new step mom and daughter that are around the same age.  They often do not see eye to eye but they are still family and they care about each other.  It has been brought up that Gloria is a stereotypical Latina mother, but Sofia Vergara defends her character in saying, “there is an existing stereotype, but it ‘goes more toward seeing us as all about our families, hard working, standing up for ourselves, ultra protective of our kids’” (Valdez).  Gloria’s character is sassy yet smart, she will do anything for her family and would just like to be accepted by everyone, including Claire.

            Haley is Claire’s oldest daughter.  She is the outgoing and partying type.  She deals with many issues that teens go through such as first relationships, heartbreak, school troubles, and overbearing parents.  Claire just wants to be involved in her children’s lives but Haley sees her more as a burden.  As the series continues and Haley comes back from college after getting kicked out she starts to have a more functional relationship with her mother.  Haley’s character is the more ditzy daughter.  Her parents worry about her common sense and academics.  They think she is too concerned with her social life and boys.  In an episode Phil even says that Haley is not that smart but she will marry a smart boy one day.  Her parents are not fond of her on and off again boyfriend Dylan so they have tried to set her up when given the chance.  Haley is the more troubled daughter.  She has issues with academics and boys, which shows a stereotypical teenage girl.  All of the incidents that happen with Haley may not happen to everyone but many young adult women go through struggles of fighting with their parents, or experimenting with dating.  Haley’s character is developing and changing into a more mature and responsible young adult, which is better than the stereotypical “dumb blonde” character she’s been portrayed as before.

            Alex is the middle child but she has the brains of the family.  She is always shown as caring about her academics and less about her appearance or boys, which is the opposite of her older sister.  She is portrayed as the stereotypical nerdy one in the family.  She often likes to show off her intelligence by out smarting her family members.  Everyone in her family is aware of how smart and condescending she is about her intellect.  They will even try to avoid one-on-one situations with her so they do not feel beneath her.  Her character is slightly starting to care about her looks and boys but she is still the stereotypical nerdy one in the family.

            Modern family is a great portal of the average American family.  They show many common and uncommon incidents that happen to families.  It shows the relationship conflicts that family members have with each other and is relatable for many people.  The only concern is some female stereotypes are very prevalent throughout the program and sometimes shine a negative yet humorous look onto these stereotypes.  Overall Modern Family is a show that will continue to grow and prosper as American families can relate to the award-winning program.


ABC. "Ep421 Career Day." ABC. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

IMDb., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Valdez, Maria G. "Is Sofia Vergara 'Modern Family' Character A Stereotype? Actress Defends Latina Gloria To Critics." Latin Times. N.p., 01 Oct. 2013.        Web. 30 Mar. 2014.


  1. I kind of recently just started watching Modern Family and I'm so mad I didn't start sooner! I love it and I think it really does show accurate presentations of families today and the every day instances that occur. I can't imagine this show will end anytime soon.

  2. I love this show and I agree that it is very easy to relate to different aspects of it but I think the thing they do best is bring out how different today's family dynamics can be from the stereotypical "perfect" family. I also like how you brought up how awkward it is for Gloria and Claire. The show does a good job of bringing up how awkward it can be to navigate through these "modern" family situations. Great topic!

  3. Great analysis, but I think you could deal with it more in depth instead of introducing each characters respectively. I know there are tons of great things that you can analyze on the 'modern family'. Why producers choose homosexual family as a part of the 'modern family' and why this homosexual family adopted baby from Asia? Why producers put the 'Latin' women with a strong accent as a 'trophy wife'? Like these, It would be much better if you stick to one or two specific things then elaborate it. But overall, good! :)

  4. I thought you did a really good job at introducing each character and showing how they are in fact somewhat stereotypical despite the families themselves not being all that cookie-cutter. It would have been cool if you connected this further to something maybe like how this kind of TV becomes successful because of its relate-ability but also the distance a viewer can have from the goofy characters. Or how they are really a great depiction of a "modern family" because todays society is no longer just the mom, dad, kids and a dog.

  5. I love this show, so i really enjoyed reading your post and i thought you did a great job! It was great how you addressed the different female stereotypes that are in this show because a lot of times these can be overlooked dude to the comedy. This show is a great representation of how each family has their own issues that they deal with, they just make it more entertaining with a comedic twist.

  6. I love Modern Family! You did a great job of relating modern family to the issues American families face today! I think Gloria is a very interesting character and it would have been interesting for you to elaborate on the stereotypes she represents. Overall this is a great topic and I'a always excited to read about Modern Family!

  7. I agree, modern family is absolutely hilarious. You did a great job in analyzing the characters, but it might be a good idea to dig a little bit under the surface. For instance, ever since we discussed the show in class, i cannot watch it without acknowledging the gendering the present. Phil isn't the typical masculine man like television in the olden days, rather he now fits in with the current status quo of television fathers. He is a goofy, somewhat dumb, simple, and un-intimidating. He could be compared to a Ray Burrone or Homer Simpson. Clair on the other hand is a smart, controlling, and naggy mother. Which again, seems to be the status quo of modern television. You effectively pointed out these same characteristics, but i would recommend paralleling them in a broader social context. Again, great job! i enjoyed the read.

  8. This blog did a great job of analyzing each character and giving a good in depth discussion of their role in the family. However, I wanted to maybe see how modern family breaks away from your typical American family. Its interesting to think how in today's society a typical family consists of a multitude of people. No longer do we conform to 1 mom, dad, and 2.5 kids.


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