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Modern Family: Is it really 'modern'?


When Modern Family, a 'mockumentary' about three different American families first came out in 2009 it was applauded for being diverse and inclusive as it featured a LGBTQ+ couple and Latin cast members including Gloria and her son Manny. However, as the show has gone on: the audience is left to wonder if the representation is solely enough considering the amount of stereotypes that are embedded within the show and its dark humor.


Just an example of some of the dialogues/stereotypes in the show, if you are not already familiar:

2) Gloria is often called a "coal digger" (gold) because it is primarily believed that she has married Jay (an older man) because he is rich

3) Gloria's thick accent which is made fun of by Jay who says that he can often not understand her (e.g. Gloria saying "old tomato" instead of "ultimatum")

4) Jay continuously stereotyping Columbian people and their traditions. For instance, when Gloria insists on making a pig dish for thanksgiving, he says "Why can't we just have normal people food?" / another instance is when their neighbors dog is stolen, Jay tells Gloria that just because people commit crime in Columbia does not mean they can do the same here.

5) Sexualizing the female body, most particularly Glora who exemplifies what a stereotypical "latin" woman is supposed to like (We see throughout the show how Phil, and other men often pine after her and her fitted clothing e.g. "Is it just me or is she moving in slow motion?")

6) Gloria being portrayed as a "hot head" who is too loud, a bad driver, has a short temper and often relies on violence (e.g. owning a pistol and often referring to the crimes that she committed in Columbia).


However, while these stereotypes do exist: I also think it's important to see how the show itself can be viewed as a satire that actually aims to make fun of the stereotypes that they so boldly present. To exemplify, in an episode when a black family moves in the house next to Jay when he coincidentally is stalling security cameras at the same time -- Jay is petrified, not wanting his neighbors to think that he is racist as he tells Gloria "you'll never understand the stereotypes old white men face." Now, clearly this line is used as satire to portray Jay's ignorance but how can we decipher the ones I have mentioned above?


Similar to South Park in the "choosing stereotypes" reading by Rebecca Mallet - Modern family also repackages and subverts stereotypes geared towards specific communities by making those impacted speak on the stereotypes themselves in satirical ways to claim power over their representation. For instance, when Jay annoys Gloria, she says "You're too funny! I'm going to share that with my next husband when we're spending all your money", Thereby, she is using the stereotype that she is a golddigger to her advantage to put Jay in his place.


In another instance, she confidently defends herself by saying "I know that I have an accent. Do you even know how smart I am in Spanish? Ofcourse you don't. For once, it would be nice to speak to someone in my own home."


Thereby, do you agree that in Modern Family, they "get hold of the few “simple, vivid, memorable, easily grasped and widely recognised” characteristics about a person, reduce everything about the person to those traits, exaggerate and simplify them, and fix them"? Does Gloria challenge stereotypes about latinas? What other stereotypes do you notice, including Mitch and Cam?




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