The gay-themed Wedding of Modern Family

The lowest aspect of this type of program was CBS’s hour-long 1967 investigation “The Homosexuals. The show began with a survey declaring that Americans believed that homosexuality was “more harmful to society than adultery, abortion or prostitution” but did nothing to alleviate those concerns. There were other sensitive portrayals of gay characters; for instance, the ABC TV movie The Certain Summer even portrayed homosexuality as a personal tragedy.

In the 1980s, a brand new trend began to emerge. As gay rights groups grew more vocal, television grew braver in depicting gay characters. The shows like Hill Street Blues and LA Law featured gay characters, usually in a single storyline and “special episodes.” In the present, homosexuality is still a problem; however, this was likely an individual or emotional one rather than a social issue as it was in earlier times.

There were notable exceptions, however, like Soap’s Jodie Dallas aside, the gay characters were more likely to have a very short lifespan. In a bid to not show the evolution of the relationship between gays, the networks limited themselves to showing gay characters being out and then, later, grappling with the consequences of AIDS. They then seemed to be out of concept.

Seinfeld was a show that featured a touch of “straight panic.”

In the 90s, the appearance of gay and lesbian characters was nearly commonplace on sitcoms that aired in prime time. The only exception was Ellen Morgan – after The Puppy Episode – they were not often the main characters. However, they could be regulars in the series, particularly when they brought comic relief.

Of course, it was also a time of transformation. Ron Becker has argued that gay characters on television in the 1990s were an image of status for people who wanted to show off their progressive views through the entertainment they consumed. This was also the time of the phenomenon that Becker refers to as “straight panic.” Male characters such as Frasier Crane or Jerry Seinfeld were faced with their male ambiguity as a result of the changing cultural public acceptance of homosexuality.

In the years following 2000, gay characters were a more reliable and regular element in the American television scene. Not just one-episode wonders anymore. They starred and were loved as main characters in shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Brothers and Sisters.

But it was also a period when television was becoming fragmented and increasingly niche channels. This meant that even the depictions of lesbians and gays on television shows like queer as Folk and The L Word were incredibly sustained and multi-layered. However, they were only watched by a smaller viewership.

Modern Family remains significant in the history of representation of gay people on television, not just because it’s a particularly nuanced show (it isn’t) or because it presents something we’ve not witnessed before (it isn’t). It’s important because it’s a major network sitcom and a well-known one, even though it features those whose lives remain in the eyes of a vibrant and prominent segment of the American public.

The show employs two important strategies to stay clear of creating a stir, even though it is able to keep ahead of the current tide. Firstly, it acknowledges the sexist nature of its usage of stereotypes and allows viewers to enjoy laughing at the characters, with them, or even at themselves according to their levels of cultural sensibility. The characters of Modern Family are never allowed to appear smug or at ease with who they are, at a minimum, not for long. As with the views of the president regarding their legal rights to marry, they are constantly changing. This gives room for the public, particularly those whose idea of gay rights remains in the primordial soup, to change with them.

Another trick used by Modern Family is to show a social change in the form of the result of “fails accomplis.” We don’t watch Mitchell make an appearance or be for Cam. Instead, we meet the couple during their journey home from Vietnam with their baby Lilly on their laps. At the same time, there may be some people in the public eye who doubt the ability of two homosexual men to become fathers and few viewers who can be able to watch these loving fathers and their daughters and not see anything other than an adorable new family.

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