When Modern Family first aired in 2009, it was lauded as being diverse and realistic, with an expanded, mixed family that crossed generations. Along with uffhows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, Modern Family capitalized on the mockumentary trend, giving viewers insight into a family that was a little different than our own – or perhaps exactly like our own!
Now in its 10th and final season, the show has dipped a little from being a critical darling, regularly sweeping the Emmys and other awards shows, but it still has its fans. However, part of the issue with a show running for so long is that some things fall through the cracks.
Tone-deaf jokes, stereotypes, poor writing, continuity errors – it’s all par for the course for a show that swaps writers every now and then, and has to deal with an evolving cultural climate as well as the maturing of its young cast members.
As we took a walk down memory lane to write this article, we found more than a couple storylines that didn’t make a lot of sense, or at least gave us pause – actually, we found 20 of them! Do you agree or disagree with our findings?
20 Phil + Gloria = ?
An ongoing joke throughout the show’s ten-season run is the fact that, at any given opportunity, Phil “has Gloria” – and yet, it doesn’t seem to bother the rest of the family!
Phil’s crush on Gloria is obvious, from his regular ogling of her to the time when he tried to hide her kiss to him during a basketball game. It’s more than a little icky that Phil is comfortable expressing his attraction to his stepmother-in-law, but he happens to do so around his father-in-law, wife and his own kids! We get that Sofia Vergara is gorgeous, but this joke feels pretty weird.
19 Manny Loves Haley
Speaking of inappropriate attraction to family members, let’s talk about the weirdness between Manny and Haley. Okay, sure, they’re not related by blood or anything, and Manny met Haley when he was on the cusp of puberty, but keeping this joke going also feels pretty yucky, considering the fact that they’re both adults now. Remember in season six when Manny accidentally got hold of Haley’s underwear? Yeah, not exactly a laugh riot.
In addition to his weird feelings for Haley, the fact that the show had Claire walk in on her step-brother naked is also pretty troubling.
18 Chubby Andy
After the whole will-they-or-won’t-they drama between Haley and Andy, Andy showed up suddenly having gained quite a bit of weight, chowing down on ice cream and sporting a terribly unconvincing fat suit. His weight gain comes as a result of learning Haley’s true feelings and her intentions to tell him before he got engaged to Beth, and so he eats his feelings rather than, you know, talking to her.
However, just a few episodes later, Andy has totally slimmed down, and his weight is never discussed again. It’s not like the show fast-forwarded a few months where such weight loss could have been possible.
17 Claire Never Slowed Down
We know that Modern Family doesn’t hold back from dealing with tough subject matter, even if they do so in a lighthearted manner. Such an example could be when the perfectionistic and type-A Claire finds herself admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.
Commonly found in infants and children, this disease causes rapid heart rate which can, in extreme cases, lead to cardiac arrest. While Claire, wearing the many hats of boss, wife and mother, wouldn’t let such an illness slow her down, it is strange that the writers have never bothered to address her illness again.
16 Gloria The Driver
Gloria has somehow managed to keep her driving license and is even allowed to drive around with the kids in the car, despite having a pretty awful track record behind the wheel.
In season one’s “Moon Landing,” Mitchell is tasked with defending Gloria who was going 100mph – but Gloria can’t take criticism, so Mitch is advised to keep quiet. Other episodes mention Gloria’s terrible driving and short fuse, but how does the show explain that Gloria worked as a cab driver before she got together with Jay?
15 Not The Brightest Tool In The Shed
From the outset of the show, Luke and Haley are portrayed as the dumb kids of the family, with Alex as the middle child genius. Haley, for all her flaws, does try her best to play to her strengths and does go to college. Alex, naturally, goes to a great school, which is what was expected of her.
But what about Luke?
Even as a child, Luke was shown to be more than a little slow (it’s worth noting that actor Nolan Gould is in fact a member of Mensa) and yet, after getting rejected from all of his school choices in season eight, he ends up at community college.
14 Hidden Pregnancies
For whatever reason, it seems that in the show when women become pregnant, they don’t want to tell their families. First up, we have the hard-partying friend of Cam and Mitch, Sal (played by Elizabeth Banks). In season five, a heavily pregnant Sal officiates Cam and Mitch’s wedding, and it’s later revealed that the father of her child is a married Chicago Blackhawks player.
Then, we have Cam’s sister Pam, who comes to visit while being with child, something she didn’t want her family to know about, since they didn’t want her to get back with her baby daddy, Bo.
Finally, most recently we have Haley who (SPOILER ALERT!) is pregnant with twins. She takes a while before letting her own fam in on the news.
13 Alex Goes To College
Considering how college-bound Alex has been since episode one, it seems strange that the writers of the show can’t keep her subjects or years straight! For example, despite the fact that Alex is meant to major in biochemistry, they have her taking a robotics class in her first semester. For such an intense program, the likelihood of having classes outside the core curriculum is slim. Then, despite managing to come back home fairly frequently rather than study, she manages to finish the program in about three years and suddenly graduates? We know Alex is smart, but we doubt she’d fast-track this one.
12 Haley & Andy Call It Quits
When Haley and Andy were involved with one another, it was a beloved relationship for viewers. Haley got Andy to loosen up and Andy got Haley to care about something other than herself for once. Their chemistry was off the charts and then, suddenly, they split!
It seemed insulting to fans who had waited for them to get together for a while, and then to pair Haley off with a professor (with whom she had nothing in common) before going back to Dylan seemed like a regression of her character.
It just seemed like the biggest tease for audiences.
11 Dylan Somehow Made It Back
Speaking of Dylan, we have his newly rekindled relationship with Haley. In the early seasons of the show, Dylan was a goofy if well-meaning boyfriend, a sweet guy in a band who is kind of the pinnacle of teenage dating (at least to a teenage girl). Following their split, Dylan left the show while Haley dated around and even enjoyed the single life.
Now, in the latest season, Dylan has come back into her life and somehow managed to win Haley over again, despite the fact that she’s grown as a person in the years since they were involved.
It seems a little haphazard to put the two together and a shoddy fan service in the final season.
10 Hello, Joe!
As he’s gotten older, Joe Pritchett has filled the necessary role of “cute sitcom kid”, thanks to his adorable looks and snappy remarks – basically, he’s everything Lily isn’t.
While we know him as Joe, it’s easy to forget the fact that his real name is Fulfencio – which we’re sure Jay would prefer, since he hasn’t been called that since the first season he was introduced! While the unusual name choice was Gloria’s idea, the rest of the family – Gloria included – has chosen to call Joe “Joe”, but it is a little odd that no character (including Joe himself) has ever mentioned his birth name, even as a joke.
9 Gloria The Stereotype
For all of its critical acclaim (especially in the early seasons) for featuring a more diverse cast of characters, there are some pretty intense stereotypes featured on Modern Family, but arguably none more offensive than Sofia Vergara’s Gloria.
As a Latina woman, Gloria checks all the boxes of the stereotypical idea: she’s hotheaded, angry, attractive, buxom, gold-digging (according to early Claire and DeDe) and loud.
In fact, as the show has gone on, Gloria’s exaggerated accent has become more intense and the butt of many jokes.
While Vergara says she doesn’t see a problem with being a stereotype, as NBC news reports, we can’t get over this one.
8 Jay’s Disappearing Brother
While the show’s focus is on family, it seems to play pretty fast and loose with relationships outside of the core cast. Take, for example, Jay’s brother Donnie, played by Jonathan Banks of Breaking Bad fame.
In season two’s “The Musical Man,” Donnie reveals that he’s got prostate cancer, something that comes after we see his strange relationship unfold with Jay, filled with insults and abrasive behaviour. The two share a warm moment but do we ever hear from Donnie again, or learn of what happens to him? Nope! Donnie gets one more mention in season two of being Jay’s little brother, and that’s it!
7 Cam & Mitch's Relationship
When Modern Family first aired, the show was congratulated for featuring a gay couple as one of their focal couples, but are Cam and Mitch really that awesome? In addition to rarely showing affection for one another during their talking head segments or otherwise, the two don’t even really seem to like each other very much!
We understand that all couples go through rough patches, but the constant sniping at each other and belittling of one another makes us wonder if Modern Family really deserves all the praise for doing to what amounts to the bare minimum.
6 Mitch vs. Birds
In a show that’s as long-running as Modern Family, it’s easy for some things to fall through the cracks, but aspects of the main cast should probably be remembered for future reference. Let’s look at Mitch, for example, who has long been characterized as neurotic – and for having a fear of birds!
In season one’s “Family Portrait,” Mitch is terrified and battling a pigeon that has flown into his house; in season three’s “Dude Ranch,” he’s scared of birds again, and even delightedly blows up a birdhouse.
However, by season ten, Mitch is not only comfortable with the chicken Cam has brought home, but he even lets it sit on his lap!
5 Phil Is Suddenly A Teacher
We have known Phil Dunphy as a realtor throughout the show. He’s very proud of that fact and is very good at his job. But, is he really so good that he could suddenly teach a class on it, despite having zero credentials or experience?
With all of the kids growing up and moving out of the house, we understand that the show runners had to find new and creative ways to bring the entire family together, but this just doesn’t make sense. After sitting in on a few of Luke’s classes at community college, Phil is suddenly tasked with teaching the course after the professor leaves – but how? In addition to lacking the skill set required, Phil also has his real job – you know, being a realtor – so how could he handle both?
4 The Demise Of DeDe
Prior to the beginning of the 10th and final season, Modern Family was touting the demise of a “beloved character” on the show, to stir up interest. Fans wondered if it would be Jay, the family patriarch, or Claire, thanks to her above-mentioned illness, or even Stella, Jay’s beloved dog.
Nope – they decided to kill off DeDe, Mitch and Claire’s mother and Jay’s ex-wife, a woman who appeared on the show for a paltry six episodes (out of 232)! Not only was DeDe not beloved by anyone, including her own on-screen children, but it seemed like a cheap trick from the producers to shore up sagging ratings and viewership numbers.
3 Phil's Weakness
For all of its lauded diversity, with casting Hispanic actors, Asian actors and a gay couple, Modern Family made a major misstep when it came to addressing race relations in season seven’s “The Cover-Up”
In a weird reveal, we learn that Claire knows that Phil is mostly attracted to black women, and so, when he finds himself working as a real estate agent for a beautiful woman of colour to whom he is attracted, he decides to hide her race from his wife. Why? We don’t know, but it was definitely a tone-deaf moment of poor humour. It’s even played for cheap laughs when Phil describes his fib as “a little white lie, which is ironic.”
2 The Adoption Issue With Lily
Back in 2009, when Modern Family began, we were introduced to Mitch and Cam who were adopting their daughter from Vietnam. The thing is, this wouldn’t be possible back then, because Vietnam banned same-sex marriages until 2015! While Mitch and Cam don’t live in that country, it’s highly doubtful that a place that holds such antiquated views would be comfortable sending one of their own to live with a same-sex couple.
1 Why The Film Crew?
When Modern Family first began airing, the mockumentary style of TV shows was doing well, thanks to the success of comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation. However, while both of those shows addressed the film crew involved in their interviews, we haven’t had the same kind of closure with Modern Family.
While there’s still time to get an explanation or an end goal for these ten years of filming (longer than either The Office or Parks and Rec), it does seem odd to us that even in the most private of moments, the family still allows the camera to come along with them with zero acknowledgement.
References: NBC, IMDB