Modern Family is an American mockumentary that aired from 2009-2020. Centering 12 main characters: Claire, her husband, Phil, and her 3 kids: Haley, Alex and Luke, her brother, Mitchell, his partner, Cameron, and their child, Lily, and her father Jay, his second wife, Gloria, and Gloria’s child, Manny, and later their child, Joe. Focussing on the theme of a modern family, it raised the bar for a family comedy representing important issues.
Gay marriage, family dynamics, differences in love, and gender identities are all themes present throughout Modern Family. With the likes of Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Tyler Burrell, Jesse Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Edward Leonard O’Neill in the main cast, it’s no wonder the hit sitcom earned a total of 22 Emmys. For as hilarious as Modern Family can be, the series also left audiences with some real life lessons to takeaway.
10 A Whole Host Of Perspectives
Phil And Claire
A lot of Modern Family’s comedy comes from its mockumentary framing. The talking heads aid the storyline and allows each character’s persona to be shown, creating a better understanding of them. This really helps open the show with an otherwise complicated entanglement of characters. The mockumentary format also allows for a diverse spread of perspectives.
Fans often see a discussion or disagreement take place (they are families, after all) and it’s interesting to learn that each character believes they’re in the right. While Claire may think she’s helping Haley, Haley thinks she’s being too pushy and demanding, and will act out accordingly.
9 Love Is Hard Work
Gloria Arguing In Modern Family
As an extended family, the Modern Family characters are very close. They all love one another, but have different relationships – Phil, Cam, and Gloria get together to discuss the Pritchetts (and how to avoid certain situations with them), Luke and Manny are nephew and uncle (but ultimately friends), and Phil’s desire to be loved by Jay is a long-running storyline.
Alongside friendship, we have three separate marriages that all require a similar level of work. Cam and Mitch are total opposites in terms of extravagance, Claire struggles with Phil’s laidback and nonchalant manner, and Jay and Gloria were always frustrated with each other. Modern Family constantly teaches viewers that love is hard work – you fight, you compromise and you make up.
8 The True Meaning Of Family
Modern Family photo
Family doesn’t always mean blood relations. In Modern Family, Mitch and Cam adopt a beautiful Vietnamese baby, Lily, and are fantastic parents. Jay and Manny aren’t biologically father and son (Manny’s father being Javier, Gloria’s ex-boyfriend), but their relationship blossoms. Jay hates the reminder that he’s not Manny’s ‘real’ father, but despite their difference in interests, Jay always supports Manny – notably so when Manny waits on the doorstep for Javier to show up and Jay takes him to Disneyland in a limo and even gives the credit to Jorge (despite him having nothing to do with it).
7 It’s Best Not To Take Life Too Seriously
Phil Dunphy with an Alpaca
If there’s one thing Phil Dunphy teaches, it’s that there are few things in life worth taking seriously. He swears by “peerenting” as opposed to parenting, which is acting like a parent but talking like a peer. In Modern Family, Phil is often a ‘class-clown’ and bonds with his kids – especially Luke – by always being the center of the fun: he invents things (like his head scratching machine), makes ridiculous competitions and is impulsive (like the time he bought the last alpaca on sale).
Phil created “Phil’s-osophy,” which contains his important life lessons and best advice – “you only get one chance at a first impression. I suggest Julia Childs, because it’s easy to do” and “watch the sunrise at least once a day.” He never takes life too seriously, and has a lot of fun in the process.
6 Be Accountable For Your Mistakes
Mitch and Cameron
In season 1, Mitch and Cam had been together for 5 years and were undoubtedly the love of each other’s lives. They are a great couple, but they’re definitely not strangers to an argument. Not many episodes go by when the two aren’t telling white lies to each other, or covering up their mistakes. Mitch and Cam were a loveable relationship on-screen and aren’t without their flaws.
Whenever something goes wrong (we’re all human), neither of the pair ever own up. Instead, they attempt to fix the issue with no communication, which tends to lead to a bigger argument. Through Cam and Mitch’s relationship on Modern Family, audiences learn that it’s always better to own up to your mistakes than it is to deny them.
5 Your Path To Happiness Can Come In Many Different Forms
As the characters grow up 11 years, Modern Family shows multiple different paths to happiness. Alex Dunphy leaves her corporate job to work on an academic research project in Switzerland. Luke Dunphy decides to attend college after all, and finds a place at the University Of Oregon. Haley Dunphy gets back together with her childhood sweetheart Dylan, and they raise their twins together in California. Manny decides to go on a ‘gap year.’
Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy suffered the loss of both his parents throughout the show, and Claire and Phil decide to use Frank’s, Phil’s Father, RV to travel the world. Cam’s dreams finally come true as Mitch, Lily and him pack up and move back to Cam’s hometown so he can coach football. In season 7, Jay retires from the closet industry and by season 11, it’s Gloria pursuing her career while Jay tends to the house.
4 Moments Don’t Have To Be Perfect, To Be Perfect
Cam and Mitch proposal
One of the finest moments in Cam and Mitch’s relationship – and from Modern Family in general – is the episode where the characters find out gay marriage is legal in California. Both desperate to propose, Mitch turns to his sister, Claire, for advice and Cam asks Gloria for hers. They have both, separately and secretly, planned a proposal – a remake of their first picnic in their living room and dinner reservations.
Things crop up and plans go awry when they get a flat tire on their way home, and the two use that moment to both get down on one knee and – without asking each other formally – say yes. It just goes to show, the perfect moment doesn’t have to be extravagant (like announcing their adoption of Lily with a spotlight and ‘The Circle Of Life’ playing) for it to be perfect.
3 The Perfect Gift
Modern Family character Phil
Along with ‘Phil’s-Osophies,’ Phil Dunphy parts with much more of his wisdom in Modern Family. For his and Claire’s anniversary, he wants to buy her the perfect gift. Notoriously between the couple, Phil is the best gift-giver, while Claire frequently drops the ball (apart from her perfect Valentine’s Day surprise, when she leads Phil to believe she has given no thought to his gift, but surprises him with a magic trick and reveals she has learned magic for him, and introduces him to a magician). Phil Dunphy states that there are 3 things that make the perfect gift: 1. Something you wouldn’t buy yourself. 2. Takes you on a journey. 3. That journey is a ship – showmanship.
2 The Difficulties Of Parenthood
Modern family cast
Whether it’s Phil and Claire battling their 3 children, Cam and Mitch learning how to be parents, Jay and Gloria raising Manny, or even Haley and Dylan struggling with two newborns, Modern Family is always making its viewers appreciate the hardships of parenthood.
On top of that, fans watch Jay struggle as he wants to parent Manny, but is often concerned with overstepping Gloria and Jorge’s job of parenting. Gloria, Haley, Alex and Claire all step in to help Lily learn about female puberty in order to offer factual and emotional advice that Cam and Mitch feel they can’t provide. Modern Family teaches audiences that, sometimes, it’s just about showing up.
1 Quality Time Is Important
Christmas with Modern Family
Modern Family is all about quality time and helping your loved ones. Fans watch Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, New Year, and holidays with all 11/12 characters (depending on the season). No matter what the situation is, turning up and hanging out is sometimes the perfect solution to your problems. Modern Family truly emphasises the ways in which a family can form – and why would you not hang out with the people you love?