Periscope Depth

the oddly conservative “Modern Family”

New post on Overthinking It about how subdued Mitchell and Cameron’s relationship is on Modern Family and why, given the history of the sitcom in general and gay rights in particular, that shouldn’t shock us:

Cam and Mitch are an outgrowth of that contradiction – the desire to stay relevant without rocking the boat. Of course they’re gay: look at how they dress! Listen to the way they talk! That’s how pop culture signifies “gay”: a love of musical theater and pastel sweaters. Not in the one thing that actually distinguishes homosexuality – a sexual attraction to someone of the same gender.

So even in a series that can make light of straight sexuality – Phil and Claire’s bedroom antics; Jay and Gloria’s mismatched ages – the writers can’t quite bring themselves to make Mitch and Cam sexual creatures. That’s not their fault. It’s not as if Christopher Lloyd or Steven Levitan are monstrous bigots. But when you have to write 24 episodes in 6 months, you have to rely on the first things that come to mind. And sixty years of sitcoms have given us a wealth of male/female comedy.

So if you want to write something safe that’s guaranteed to get a laugh, you write about the kids walking in on Mom and Dad going at it. Oh no! Everyone can relate to that!

Check it out.