‘Modern Family:’ Meh

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly it is about Modern Family that’s beginning to irk me.

First, there was the noticeable lack of PDA between Mitch and Cameron, the gay couple, in the first season. It didn’t necessarily bother me, but like I said,  it was noticeable. And a little cowardly.

Then there was the fact that none of the two lead female characters have jobs, which feels strangely anachronistic in a country where 66% of all women with children now work either full or part-time.

Finally, there was the issue of Gloria, played by former model Sofia Vergara, who speaks in a heavily exaggerated Colombian accent. Compare Sofia Vergara in this 1998 commercial to this ABC promo featuring the Supernanny.

Apparently, dying your hair brown so you can look more stereotypically ‘Latin’ also brings back an accent you never had.

But those issues, in themselves, aren’t enough to bother me. I loved the first season of Modern Family– no gay PDA, Gloria’s accent on display and all.

But this season has just been weak. It’s a combination of stale writing and too much heavy-handedness. It’s like the writers of the show got together after winning their Emmys, and decided: “People really like the gays and Gloria, so let’s beat those jokes over with a dead horse.”

Thus cue the episodes about Cam’s failed soirees, his princess obsession, their vetting of a gay receptionist–it’s-a-how-stereotypically-gay-can-we-be main course meal every week. Also cue the jokes about Gloria– Jay, the patriarch, making fun of Gloria’s ‘caaaantry,’ and the camera people playing along, cutting to Gloria screaming “Jay!” after the neighbor complains of a parrot.

And then there are the uncomfortable racial jokes made at whose expense? In one episode, after Cam gives an angry speech about the racism of a local TV commercial that his Vietnamese daughter Lily is in, he grabs the wrong child. What are we supposed to make of that?  There’s no point fighting against Asian discrimination because they all look like? Or when (still staying on the Asians), a female Asian doctor drives horribly. What are the writers trying to say in confirming these stereotypes? If they’re trying to be edgy; they fail. It’s just confusing.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing but love for this show. That’s why I want it to be better. This Wednesday’s episode was a nice change of pace. That line where Jay tells his daughter Claire upfront that she sounds like a Tijuana prostitute when she gets a massage had me laughing out loud. But overall, it feels like Modern Family been resting on its laurels, rubbing its fat belly after all the cookies it got from the critics and the fans. Here’s hoping that the rest of the season, the show moves a little and the writing gets tighter.


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