Superficial Diversity

I love going home for Thanksgiving break. However, there is one thing I always dread when going home for Thanksgiving break: the many hours that will be spent watching Modern Family, a family favorite.

Modern Family, for those who have never heard of it, is a family-friendly sitcom about an extended family. The show has spanned nine seasons with the tenth season airing right now. The show has been critically acclaimed and has won 22 Emmys, one golden globe and 15 other assorted awards, according to Internet Movie Database (IMDb). This page goes on for miles with the 153 nominations the show has had. The show currently holds 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and after being on air for almost a decade now, that is really quite impressive. One of the biggest praises for the show is its diverse cast of characters. On first glance, that seems true. The three families in the extended family are different from one another, with one being a mixed-race family, one being the “traditional” white sitcom family and one being a gay couple. Each of the families has problems when it comes to true diversity, but I am going to focus on the gay couple.

The gay couple is played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as Mitchell Tucker, and Eric Stonestreet, as Cameron Tucker. The problem with this couple is that they are not real characters in the show, they are one-dimensional stereotypes. Mitchell Tucker likes musical theatre, ice skating and speaks softly. Cameron is no better, acting as the stay at home dad, but taking to it like a stereotypical housewife and also being quite effeminate. This is not a diversity of characters, as these two are not characters. They are simple stereotypes. There is a cardboard cutout created in a writers’ room.

Now there is a distinct difference between these characters and effeminate gay men. Effeminate gay men have other traits than being effeminate. Being gay is not the sum of their person. These two characters are written so that being gay is the sum of their character.    

When new shows get written, the executives will look to the success of Modern Family and other shows with similar surface-level diversity and think that they can shove a gay stereotype into the show and call it a day. This lazy writing is a huge problem for the LGBTQ+ community.  I know this because it affected me personally. It took me quite a while to realize that I was gay, not because my parents had forced me to bury my feelings, not because I attended a school or a church that preached the evils of homosexuality, but because I felt that I did not fit the mold. All the media I saw showed these effeminate men and I thought that’s what being gay meant. I wasn’t clean, I couldn’t care less if my clothing matched, and I sure as hell had no idea what the color burgundy was. I could not be gay, because I did not act like “gay men”. This is the true risk that these shallow stereotypes have on society.  

In this time of increasing demand for diversity in film and television, be wary of this pseudo-diversity being thrown at us. If you don’t like this and want to curb this trend, then vote with your wallet and don’t watch the show. We all deserve better than this lazy writing that is being fed to us.