Modern Family Essay
Modern Family is a documentary-style comedy about three branches of the extended Pritchett family: Dad Jay has married a younger woman and is now raising a teenage stepson; his daughter Claire has a husband and three kids of her own; and his gay son Mitchell has just adopted a Vietnamese baby with his partner. Modern Family premiered on ABC in September 2009 as part of the network’s new Wednesday comedy lineup, and was immediately met with positive reviews and strong ratings, becoming the breakout show of the night.
Modern Family was created and is executive-produced by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, who worked together as writers and producers on Frasier, and co-created the short-lived sitcom Back to You; Levitan was also the creator of Just Shoot Me. This investigation will highlight the key aspects which has made Modern Family a very likable program over the last few years. the way in how the show appeals to viewers will be discussed as well as the values and attitudes of society are re? ected through the main characters.
I Will also indicate some of the controls and constraints that Modern Family has to deal with in order to make their show successful and appropriate. Also featured will be the discussion of some of the obvious stereotypes which the show portrays and the impact of Modern Family on Todays society. But to be able to understand all these aspects, you will need to familiarise yourself with the main characters ? rst. Characters Jay Pritchett: The father of Claire and Mitchell, husband of Gloria, grandfather of Lily, Luke, Alex, and Haley, and the stepfather of Manny.
He is the owner of a construction ? rm and is presumably the wealthiest family member. Jay has a dry and sarcastic sense of humor. Like both his son and daughter, Jay is generally more realistic, mild mannered, and sensible than his partner, Gloria, who is unashamed of the fact Jay is many years her senior. A recurring plot involves Jay’s relationship with his son Mitchell, which became more complicated due to Jay’s reaction to Mitchell’s sexual orientation. Gloria Pritchett: Jay’s wife and Manny’s mother. She is from a small village in Columbia.
She is a very loving wife and mother despite the age difference between her and her husband. Her voluptuous ? gure and overall beauty is often remarked or noticed by other characters on the show. One of her most distinctive traits is her very thick Colombian accent, which sometimes leads her to mispronounce English words, such as “ultimatum” as “old-tomato” and “earrings” as “hair-rings”. She often supports Manny when Jay tries to tell him to be less sensitive or hide his cultural background. Manny Delgado: Gloria’s 14-year-old son from her ? rst marriage.
He is very outgoing and not the least bit self-conscious. He is very intelligent, mature and intuitive for his age and is often shown doing adult-like things, such as having conversations with Claire about her marriage and kids, and drinking coffee. He has inherited his mother’s passion for life, though Gloria has also said, “Manny is passionate, just like his father. ” This causes Manny to be very romantic. Manny is not afraid to take chances, leading him to ask out older girls, and develop a crush on Haley.
Phil Dunphy: Claire’s husband of 20 years who sees himself as the “cool dad. He dotes on his wife Claire and constantly tries to ? nd ways to bond with his three kids. He is seen as very competitive, one example being his nature of always beating his son at basketball. He has a very juvenile attitude, and is referred to by Claire as the “kid [she’s] married to. ” He uses a parenting method that he calls “peerenting”, which is a combination of talking like a peer but acting like a parent. He is a real estate agent who is very con? dent in his work, once saying “I could sell a fur coat to an Eskimo.
Claire Dunphy: the daughter of Jay, Mitchell’s older sister, and the helicopter soccer mom of the Dunphy family and its three very different kids. She was once a wild-child who made a lot of mistakes over the years, and she is fearful that her children could make the same mistakes, especially her oldest daughter, Haley. She is often exhausted from stress created by her family but is still a loving mother. When it comes to her kids she has dif? culty controlling Haley’s independence and irresponsibility, Alex’s manipulative nature, and Luke’s lack of common sense. She also gets annoyed with her husband, Phil, constantly.
Claire is a very competitive person, much like her husband, and is portrayed with a personality that causes her to freak out easily, and get angry. She is very strict about a clean house. She is seen as an experienced parent by Cameron and Mitchell, so she is called upon for her parenting advice Haley Dunphy: the daughter of Claire and Phil, who is portrayed as the stereotypical teenager who is often embarrassed by the presence of her parents. Haley is 15 at the beginning of the series, and is a freshman in college as of Season 4. Haley is depicted as being a bit of a bimbo, who focuses more on social status than studies.
She is a little naive, especially when it comes to arguing with her parents. She is concerned about her popularity at school, as well as her social and sexual life, which contributes to her being embarrassed by her parents. Alex Dunphy: the 15-year-old daughter of Claire and Phil, and also the most erudite and intelligent of the three siblings. She is very bright and cares much more about her studies than friends/social life and boys. As the middle child to a shallow big sister and a goofy younger brother, she enjoys messing with them when they are rude to her, which is fairly often.
Often taking advantage of their naivete by fooling them into believing unrealistic things, she at one time convinced Haley and Luke that they could charge electronics by rubbing the battery on their heads (Haley) and putting it in their mouths (Luke). She, as a stereotypical precocious kid, displays a sense of superiority because of her erudition, constantly putting her accomplishments on display and demanding recognition for them. Luke Dunphy: Phil and Claire? s 14-year-old son, who is often doing his own thing.
At times, he can be a troublemaker, once shooting his sister with a toy gun and getting into a ? ht with Manny at school. Luke is playful, very innocent and does not always understand the repercussions of his actions, like most children; he once announced at a family gathering that his mom thought her dad’s new wife was a “gold digger”, although he misheard it as “coal digger”. Mitchell Pritchett: Also referred to as Mitch, is Jay’s son, Claire’s younger brother, Luke, Alex and Haley’s uncle, one of Lily’s fathers, and partner of eight years to Cameron. He is a low-key, mild-mannered person. At most times he is the exact opposite of Cameron which usually causes disagreements.
Cameron acts as a counterbalance to Mitchell’s uptight, worrying ways. He usually responds to homophobia (whether real or perceived) by giving “speeches. ” Because of his mild-mannered, uptight nature, he is sometimes embarrassed by Cameron’s ? amboyance. Cameron Tucker: Also referred to as Cam, is Mitchell’s partner of eight years, and one of Lily’s fathers, who has a very big dramatic personality. His bubbly outgoing personality contrasts to Mitchell’s uptight manner, which causes them to have opposing character traits. Cameron was born on February 29, 1972 and grew up on a farm in Missouri.
Lilly Tucker-Pritchett: the adopted Vietnamese daughter of Cameron and Mitchell. When she was introduced to the family, they accepted her with open arms, although Mitchell originally wanted to wait to tell them about her. She is at times doing activities with both of her fathers but remains with Cam at home while Mitchell works. How Does It Appeal? A key aspect of the show? s appeal is the similarities people ? nd between the extended family and their own family. Some characters from the show are Phil Dunphy, Claire Dunphy, Jay Pritchett, Gloria Pritchett, Mitchell Pritchett, and Cam Tucker.
There are many other characters that make up this family, which make for much more diversity. The dynamic between these different immediate families and their values (including traditional, gay, straight, and multicultural) are what gives Modern Family its large demographic. The diversity of the Pritchetts helps reach a large audience. The ? rst part of this family is the Pritchett-Delgado family. This consists of Jay, the family patriarch, Gloria, the younger second wife, and Manny, her son. The fun part in watching this family is the culture clash between Jay and Gloria.
Gloria and Manny are Hispanic, while Jay is white. It is interesting as they try to make sure that Manny gets a combination of both cultures in his life. Next in this family is the Dunphy family. This has Claire, Jay? s daughter and mother of three, and Phil, Claire? s fun husband. Their children are also in the show. First is Haley, the epitome of some teenage girls who seem to only care about their social lives as opposed to spending time with their family. Second is Alex, the smart child and Haley? s opposite. Last is Luke, the youngest and most rambunctious of the three. He is very close to Manny.
The Dunphy? s are a very traditional family, but has had some of the more memorable moments in the show. Some of them come from Phil, who is known for having a very fun sense of humor. Finally there is the Pritchett-Ticker family. This is made up of Mitchell, Jay? s gay son and Claire? s younger brother, Cam, his partner, and Lily, their adoptive daughter from Vietnam. It is fun to watch their family and see how different they are from the other two parts of the family. It? s also important because it helps to put the similarities into perspective for many viewers, and that is very valuable these days.
Stereotypes Stereotypes are an inevitable part of modern culture. They are standardized and simpli? ed views of groups and minorities based on prior assumptions. “Modern Family” constantly utilises and plays with the notions of Stereotypes. “Modern Family” attempts to create a new stereotype by conforming and altering old stereotypes. There is Jay, the Grandfather who remarried to a beautiful, busty Colombian woman Gloria and her son, Manny.
Jay? s daughter, Claire, married to Phil, who have 3 children, Haley, Alex and Luke. Finally, Jay? s on Mitchell has an adopted Vietnamese daughter with boyfriend Cameron. The entire program works by challenging and changing stereotypes, in particular that of Gay parents, Cam and Mitch. Cameron and Mitchell are, in a way, a stereotypical gay couple. However, the humour and the message is portrayed through their confrontation of that stereotype. In one episode, they are confronted with the notion that one of them in the couple is “the woman. ” This stereotypical view, that society is asking them to conform to, forces not only a humorous situation, but also challenges the characters?
Gender and Identity. The show cleverly alters the ideas of stereotypes, and plays to into them, but also puts “name to a face” as it were. Stereotypes are not necessarily formed solely on against minorities, and this show challenges every one. Each character is a “stereotype” in their own right – be that “the dumb socialite,” or “the only child” or “the loud Colombian woman”. In season 4 there is an episode titled “Fulgencio” Which con? rms the perception that Latinos working in America are poor and struggle for money but still work very hard.
Gloria? family comes to visit the new born baby in the family and the Columbian family endeavors the entire episode to clearing the house, especially Gloria? s sister. it is a positive representation of Latinos because they want to work even if they are on a holiday. But the beauty and hilarity of Modern Family is that each character confronts each of their stereotypes and we, as an audience, see that there is a lot more than meets the eye. Instead of simply accepting some of these stereotypes, Modern Family challenges some of these and in doing so creates a new opinion on the viewers Controls and Constraints
There are many controls and constraints that will affect any media production, and Modern Family is no exception. Time: Time is one of the main factors that affects the production. Each episode is meant to run for approximately 20-23 minutes excluding ad-breaks. This means that the group of people who are putting together an episode, must avoid making a very long plot and address the main issue of the episode almost immediately. Another constraint of the show is its budget. Budget: The budget of any program is an outline of how much that production will cost, or how much the director is willing to spend. In its ? st three seasons.
There has been episodes ? lmed in Hawaii, and a ranch. These episodes were have been ? lmed in these locations and not a studio with a backdrop of that location. This would have possibly meant that the budget for those 2 episodes would have been greater than some of their other episodes. It is also rumored that the ABC is planning to ? lm a future episode in Columbia in which the viewers will be introduced to Gloria Pritchett? s family. Taking into account the budget of a normal episode, and adding to that international ? ights for the cast and crew, this could very well be the most expensive episode yet.
Rating/Audience: One of the most important controls and constraints which affect a media production, is the audience and their expectations. The producers of the show will give a classi? cation or rating so that viewers have some idea of what to expect. Modern Family has a rating of PG13. A PG-rated motion picture should be investigated by parents before they let their younger children attend. The PG rating indicates, in the view of the Rating Board, that parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, and parents should make that decision.
The more mature themes in some PG-rated motion pictures may call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity. However, these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated motion picture. Since people under the age of 13 are still likely to watch the show, The writers of an episode must be very careful about any potential jokes that might affect a child. E. g.
Modern Family is not allowed to make a joke about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the tooth fairy not existing because a young person watching the show who believed they existed could end up being very upset. An example of this is from an episode from season 1 when Cameron and Mitchell take their adopted daughter Lilly to go an see Santa Claus at the local mall. The reason all types of ? lm media have these ratings, is to protect the viewer from seeing something they might not want to see. Values and Attitudes Re? ected Through Characters
In mainstream media, there seems to be different views on gay marriage, but it seems to be slightly more in favour of accepting the life choices made by these people. In Modern Family, there is a gay couple called Cameron and Mitchell. The way that they positively re? ect the values and attitudes of society is the fact that they are very open about being gay. Another way it is positively re? ected is through the other main characters. They all seem to be very accepting even the Patriarch of the family Jay Pritchett, he accepts his sons choice even though he is uncomfortable with it.
In one of the early episodes of season 2, the couple shared a kiss which pleased the audience. Ultimately, then, the show re? ects the experiences and insecurities of its creators and assumed audience, middleclass, middle-aged straight white men. Also in its Pilot episode, Cam and Mitch announce to the family that they have adopted a baby from Vietnam and the whole family (Including Mictchell? s homophobic father Jay) are very accepting of their choice. It reassures them that being tolerant is as good as being inclusive and that heterosexual white families with shrill stay-at-home wives are the norm.
Its exploration of the pressures of feminine ideals is considerably less sympathetic meaning that Phil? s wife Claire Dunphy is arguably the least likable character, and story lines have included three women getting their period at the same time and going “crazy”, and ? ery Latina Gloria needing to be chaperoned because her pregnancy brain makes her too forgetful to function.
Modern Family is one of very few to feature main characters who are gay (one of whom is played by a character who is actually gay outside of the production) and people of color, and it shows Cam and Mitch to be caring, capable parents. t challenges some of the values and attitudes which are evident, and the fact that Modern Family presents this unit in such a non-threatening way may be the key to its acceptance. Impact On Society Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Casted as Mitchell Pritchett) said that Modern Family might be doing a lot to change the views on gay marriage. The actor said he has had several people approach him and remark how the show has had an impact their lives and their views. It’s impossible to measure how wide the impact is, but the fact that even one person changed their mind says a lot about the depth of the show. Modern Family” is hardly the ? rst show to feature gay characters.
However, it is one of the ? rst that doesn’t really make an issue out of it. In fact, it is easy to forget that Cameron and Mitchell are a gay couple. There are no political statements or agendas. They are just two people living their lives. The fact that it has affected the views of other people indicates that it is a very important show. It takes something special to alter the mindset of an individual. This show ? ts the bill.
They keep doing what they do. “Modern Family” shouldn’t try to change the world. However, if they change a few minds while carrying on as normal then there is nothing wrong with that. Modern Family has also made people who watch the show feel better about themselves because viewers now know that there own family isn? t the only family who has troubles. It is happening all around them. This helps us to understand that Modern family is one of the most realistic television sitcoms going around at the moment. Conclusion
It is quite evident that Modern family has had an impact on todays society in a positive way along with providing the viewers with plenty of laughs along the way. For people to want watch a program and understand some of the meaning it constructs, then the show must appeal to the viewer in the ? rst place, and Modern Family does this by creating a storyline that most people can generally relate to. Once people become immersed in the show they start to pick up some of the stereotypes that are evident, e. g. Gay couple, loud South Americans etc.
Because we relate with the characters, we feel inclined to display the same values and attitudes that the characters do which is respecting people even if they? re gay or of a different nationality. This leads to its impact on society which is without a doubt a positive one. Perhaps Modern Family is changing the views towards gay marriage and it is better that they? re doing it in a way where people can watch a television program that people can enjoy, but also learn from it. It is amazing to consider how successful a TV show can be due to the controls and constraints it faces, and Modern Family perfects it.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 2 October 2016
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