Every Wednesday at 9:00 pm, NBC has situated a time slot for the Emmy-Award Winning for Best Comedy Series called “Modern Family”. This show puts a comedic twist to families struggling with difficult situations in their everyday lives. Each episode portrays three different families: a traditional family, a blended family, and parents in same-sex relationship. The traditional family consists of a middle-age mother and father, Claire and Phil, and their children, Haley, Alex, and Luke. The couple in a homosexual relationship, Mitchell and Cameron, adopted an interracial child, Lily, who completes their family. Claire and Mitchell’s father, Jay, who was recently remarried to a considerably younger woman named Gloria, make up the blended family, along with Gloria’s son, Manny. Although this may sound like a colourful bunch of characters, through narrative analysis of the pilot episode, one could suppose that the morals they influence the audience to believe are not as “modern” as they appear. One can see that being married with children is the ideal family life, which is a definite outlier from present family life. In addition, the moral of the importance of family approval is still embraced rather than shown in a different perspective. One could also suggest that this show conceptualize the traditional family roles rather than modern family roles. Although Modern Family tries to situate itself as different from the all-American family life, it still influences their audience to ought to believe in the conventional family lifestyle.
When one thinks of a conventional family, the image that comes to mind is a married couple is children. Modern Family is a perfect example of a show that is dedicated to this belief, targeting an audience that appeals to the family life. Claire and Phil’s family shows the image of a traditional family, where children show constant bickering with their siblings and the parents must act in their traditional family roles in order for them to properly function. The pilot episode entails the major event of Cameron and Mitchell adopting a child, completing the traditional family persona. When Mitchell states, “Cam and I started feeling this longing for something more…maybe a baby…”, it is implied that having a child will fill a void in a relationship. As a result, the belief that is portrayed in this television show is that family must consist of a two-parent family with children.
Support within a family is of great importance; however, one could suggest that approval is not necessarily achieved in the modern day family life. In Claire and Phil’s household, Phil was not approving of the way Claire chose to handle Luke’s punishment, but he supported this action regardless. After the major event of Mitchell and Cameron adopting Lily, Mitchell was afraid of telling his family about this decision because of the judgement they may ensue. He was right in assuming this fact, as Jay and Claire both initially agree that Mitchell might not be able to handle this responsibility; however, in the end of the episode, both Claire and Jay approve of this decision. In this episode, Manny takes on the task of confessing his feelings for a girl in which Gloria insists that Jay should support his actions, even though Jay was strongly against it. Consequently, the message that is being communicated to all viewers is that approval just because they are a family member is emphasized, a conventional moral that does not relate to modern day life.
The all-American family often suggests that there are two conventional roles that a person should take in a family situation: the mother and the father. In the pilot episode, the motherly figure is clearly demonstrated in Claire and Gloria, who are overbearing when it comes to their children. Even initially, Claire is adamant in the fact that Haley should not be wearing short skirts and Gloria is overly passionate during Manny’s soccer game. Both acts are clear overbearing attitudes that a traditional mother usually has over their children. Even through Cameron and Mitchell, it is clear that Cameron is seen as the motherly figure, as Mitchell comments that Cameron has a more “womanly shape”. In addition, the fathers of the household, Phil and Jay, are shown as the breadwinners of the family, who work and are less involved in supporting the growth of their children. This can be seen through the scenes where Jay is less committed to supporting Manny’s quest of love and Phil not having the courage to discipline Luke. Because of such a wonderful ending to the episode, the moral they suggest to the intended audience is that having these family figures will increase the chance of a successful family life.
To conclude, Modern Family tries to perform a modern take on the family life, but still falls short in this goal. From watching the first pilot episode and analyzing it from a narrative perspective, one can see that conventional family life is still being supported. The image of a traditional family is still supported where a couple must have a child to achieve happiness. Moreover, approval and support from family members as a significant part of family life is another moral presented in this show that does not have a modern day perspective. In addition, the belief in which family members must situate themselves in specific roles to live contentedly is emphasized in this television show. Although Modern Family does try to influence a modern society, one can only advocate that the messages and morals it tries to portray does not correlate with the majority of modern day thinking.