Modern Family – I Love You So Much, But Grrrrrrr!

This post comes from a place of love.

I love Modern Family and have from that very first episode. I was hooked when Phil acted out a song from High School Musical to his mortified children.

 I have never missed an episode in the past seven seasons. It’s #1 on my TiVO Season Pass list and the only show my entire family actually sits down to watch together. Not only do I think it’s the funniest show on TV, I think it might go down as one of the best in history. I’ve bought Modern Family t-shirts, glasses, and even a Modern Family Cookbook.
cookbookmf
I’m that kind of a dorky fan. But you know how they say it’s those you love the most that have the potential to hurt you the most? Mmhmmm.

Last night’s episode, “Man Shouldn’t Lie”, was so disappointing. The clear message was that Christians, particularly from small towns, are gay-hating hicks. Modern Family has ventured into mocking rural folk previously. It’s part of Mitchell’s big city snobbery. So I won’t go into a lot of detail about that. But to portray people of faith in such hateful ways was…well…kind of hateful.

Here’s the premise: Cam decides to rent out the top floor of the apartment building they own to a Christian Rock Band named, “Water to Wine.” Mitchell objects

Oh, good. Okay, so they’re noisy and judge-y.

Cam starts to defend the group by saying he knows many accepting people of faith. It’s a sitcom so you know these band members will not be some of them. Where’s the fun in that?

As the story unfolds, the drummer quits (Mitchell suspects he is gay). Cam jumps in to take his spot for the show. Backstage before the performance, the lead singer asks everyone to gather in prayer:

All right. Heavenly Father, we ask that you make this show super-amazing for all of our fans, and we pray for Dex (the original drummer). Lord, please guide him. Give him strength. And let him know that we love and accept him no matter what.

Mitchell has a revelation and suspects he might have been too judgmental after all and takes the band up on its offer to join them on stage as a tambourine player. We all know it wasn’t going to end there, right? Despite the fact, that that’s probably closer to reality than the path the story takes.

cam drums

The music starts, then with Cam on the drums and Mitch on the tambourine, the band breaks into a song with the lyrics:

Man shouldn’t lie 
Man shouldn’t lie
Man shouldn’t lie with another man 
Man shouldn’t lie 
Man shouldn’t lie 
Man shouldn’t lie with another man 
There’s a party in hell 
And the drinks are always flowing 
I think we all know the kind of people that are going 

DAMMIT. Why did they have to do that? It’s pretty clear that the rock group is supposed to be from a conservative denomination. The name of their church is “The Soldier of the Lamb Church” so they might truly be one of those whacko churches that protest about homosexuality at funerals. We all know they exist. And to me, they are the epitome of evil. We even know that more mainstream denominations have opposed same-sex marriage, gay clergy and consider homosexuality a sin.

But the fact is many mainline Protestant churches are supportive of gay rights. They include The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America(ELCA), United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church and many more. But, of course, that is not what the average viewer will take away from this episode. They will take away that ALL Christians are judge-y and hateful.

happy-grooms

I’m not one who gets worked up about Hollywood’s supposed ‘liberal bias.’ I’m a  proud liberal myself and I’ve applauded how Modern Family has  normalized what it means to be gay. Seeing Cam and Mitch as a normal couple just like millions of other Americans did more for the gay rights movement than a million speeches or parades. I firmly believe Modern Family helped pave the way toward legalized gay marriage and I applauded that.

But I also happen to be a Christian. As a semi-regular attendee of my ELCA church here in Minnesota,  I’ve listened to our talented group of contemporary musicians share songs about acceptance and love. None of them, in church or in every day conversation would ever spread a message of hate or judgement toward any gay person.

But I guess that’s not funny enough for a sitcom is it?

They went for the laugh and that’s what sitcoms are supposed to do. But I think Modern Family is better than this.  Instead of going for the easy gag and portraying Christians as extremists, maybe they could have pushed the envelope a bit. We heard earlier in the episode that Mitchell and Cameron have grown up with differing experiences with church goers and their attitude toward gay people. Couldn’t the end scene have been a nod that the faith world has grown and evolved in this area? Because some of us have. But to leave the viewer with the attitude of Christian=Hate is no better than those people that judge all Muslims by the actions of Isis. (Of course, I know my Christian experience watching a silly TV show, doesn’t begin to touch the horror that some Muslims in the US have faced and continue to face, so please don’t send me any letters).

I’m just saying Modern Family, you’re awesome. I believe in you and I still find you the funniest show on television. I just wish you’d broaden your horizons a little bit. There is life outside of LA and there are people of faith, even here in the little old Midwest, who are pretty cool too.