“What qualifies someone as a hero?” Asks Manny Delgado (Rico Rodriguez) at the end of an episode of Modern family. “Obviously, a hero has to be someone we respect. A person to look up to; that is generous of spirit, willing to grow and learn. Maybe that person is the one who loves you the most in this world. Or who gets the most out of life no matter what other people think. For me, however, the hero of my family is my family itself, because of who we are when we are together.
The comedy series premiered in 2009 gave us that type of family for a decade: united and dysfunctional, but that remains strong and united, regardless of the number of people that make it up, the ideals they profess, their customs or if they meet –Even– on the other side of the television. Created by Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, Modern Family featured the most royal and closest group of relatives to the public that had been seen in years.
The Pritchett and Dunphys came to prime time on television in the US along with a family group that included different age ranges, sexual preferences, races and ideologies; elements with which the audience connected instantly. “[Steve y yo] we were playing with a lot of ideas for sitcoms, but they didn’t seem real, “Christopher Lloyd told The Guardian in 2016.” So we thought, what about what we talk about among ourselves, our kids and the idiotic things that happen in our homes? Is there a way to make a family show – which is, in a way, the most trivial topic on television – but a little more real?
Lightly inspired by the French series Fais pas ci, fais pas ça (2007), Levitan and Lloyd created a kind of mockumentary that allowed them to transform the stereotype of the typical American family to adapt it to the infinite combinations of the 21st century. What is now ABC’s longest comedy show to date – with 250 episodes aired – and winner of five consecutive Emmys for Best Comedy Series – equaling Frasier’s record – has a major win that will be difficult to forget: dare to revolutionize the established.
Modern Family is the first series in television history to feature two gay men (Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) as parents of a little girl from Vietnam; It was the first television production that built a marriage between a Caucasian man (Ed O’Neill) and a Latin woman, a single mother and several decades younger than him (Sofía Vergara); and it became the first show that, within what could be seen as a “traditional” home, showed through Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell) that a mother of a family can resume her professional life and become the director of a company.
“When we were shooting on location a gay couple came up to us and said that we were not only making people laugh, but that we were making people more tolerant,” Levitan said at the 2011 Emmy ceremony. “I think they were right and what [con Modern Family] We were teaching the world that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a committed and loving relationship between a mature man and an attractive young woman, ”he said surrounded by laughter.
Read also: Reasons we love Modern Family
Modern Family: Between Dreamers and Realists
“In this world there are dreamers and realists,” says Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) in one of those many Modern Family endings that close with a great moral and a few tears and intermingled laughter. “You would think that dreamers meet other dreamers and realists meet their own, but most of the time the opposite happens. You see: dreamers need realists not to fly so close to the sun. And the realists, well, without the dreamers they might never get their feet off the ground ”.
Throughout eleven years, Modern Family distinguished not only its family message transmitted through television. Behind the scenes, its cast constantly fought for fair and equitable conditions for all its members; from big stars to emerging talents. In the Emmy nominations, for example, the main actors always participated in the shortlists for supporting performance and never in the stellar ones. On the second occasion that Ty Burrell received this statuette, he did not stop expressing his surprise at the little recognition that the children’s cast was given as a fundamental pillar of the series.
Ariel Winter, who played Alex Dunphy, was physically and verbally abused by her mother during the filming of the first seasons of the series. Her colleagues, but especially Julie Bowen, sheltered and supported her through the legal process to separate from her parents. Today, both maintain a strong relationship, very similar to that between a mother and her daughter.
His commitment to the concept of family bonding has always been very vocal. During one of the most critical moments of the Trump Era in the US, Steve Levitan used his Twitter account to express his discontent with the way Fox News has covered the situation of migrants between the US-Mexico border. “I am disgusted to work for a company that has something to do with Fox News. This shit is the opposite of what Modern Family represents, “he said, in addition to announcing his separation from the company after the last season of the series.
If Manny asked again what qualifies someone as a hero, the answer could be exemplified by any of the adventures of this funny family made up of dreamers and realists; a group of people who, over the course of eleven years, made us laugh and cry, but above all, they filled us with love for those beings that we have next to us and whom, in any situation, we can always call “family”.
A version of this article first appeared in Cinema PREMIERE # 300, September 2019. Get your printed edition here or consult it in digital version at this link.
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Arturo Magaña Arce Passionate about watching, writing, reading, researching and talking about cinema in all its forms. I’m a Star Wars fan, I know all the chapters of Friends by heart and if you ask me about Mexican cinema, there is no one to shut me up. Editor at Cine PREMIERE.