7 Ways the ‘Modern Family’ Characters Changed How We View Sitcoms

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As the two-year anniversary of the finale of ABC’s hit sitcom Modern Family passes (April 8), we can’t help but remember just how hilarious and heartwarming the show was.

Premiering in 2009, the Emmy award-winning series followed three families, all living in the Los Angeles area. The three are tied together through Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) and his two children, Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). Over 11 seasons, we saw the family explore new career paths, vacations, and hobbies (like Eric Stonestreet‘s Cam and his side hustle as a clown). We saw the kids navigate middle school’s awkward ins and outs, the drama of high school, and even the college decision process. And we got to experience laughter, heartbreak, and tears with the family.

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These excel at fourth wall breaks, one-on-one interviews, and candid improv.

Modern Family took us through the lives of each and every character on the show. With all of that in mind, here are seven moments that changed how we view sitcoms.

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Cam and Mitchell

Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett were a same sex couple with an adopted daughter. Not only did this heartwarming duo provide us with an endless amount of laughs, but their relationship also made LGBTQ viewers feel seen and represented. (Before Modern Family, the prime example of a successful sitcom with main characters who were gay was Will & Grace.) We saw Cam and Mitchell adopt a daughter, and get married. We saw the emotional experience of one failed adoption after another for the couple, then finally the successful adoption of a second child by the end of the series. Millions of viewers each week got to know this lovable couple and see some of their major life events that have real-world applications. Since Modern Family, The Fosters on Freeform, which premiered in 2013, also featured a queer couple with children.

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Jay, Gloria, Manny, and Joe

When Jay married Gloria (Sofía Vergara), after divorcing DeDe (Shelley Long), she had a son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez), and so viewers were able to see a blended stepfamily on the small screen. (One other notable show that did this was the iconic Brady Bunch.) In Season 4, Jay and Gloria a child together, Joe (Jeremy Maguire). Jay’s tough exterior was softened by his love for both of his boys. This family made the show more relatable for many viewers. In Netflix’s Fuller House (2016-2020), we also see a blended family on screen.

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The Dunphy Family

Claire, Phil (Ty Burrell), Haley (Sarah Hyland) Alex (Ariel Winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould) served as the show’s nuclear family. Like most moms, Claire’s kids drove her crazy, but she still loved them endlessly. The same went for Phil. Phil cracked the most typical dad jokes and got into some crazy experiments and situations, but he never failed to show up for his family.

What’s worth noting is the way we saw the kids navigate college. Haley and Luke went to community college. Alex was waitlisted from her dream school. The series gave realistic, relatable depictions of the common college experience. We saw a similar take on the college experience in ABC’s narrated, based on real-life sitcom The Goldbergs.

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Haley's Pregnancy

In Season 10, Haley found out she was pregnant, a surprise for her and Dylan (Reid Ewing) — and fans. Haley was forced to get her life together, and she soon became a wonderful, loving mother to twins.

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Gloria's New Career Path

Gloria had to put her plans on hold for years to make a better life for Manny. While we don’t see it, we are often reminded of her difficult past with her son. When she married Jay, she was a stay-at-home wife for a while, but longed for more. We saw Gloria work hard and become a successful real estate agent.

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Mockumentary Style Family Sitcom

While we saw a similar mockumentary style take on the series Arrested Development, Modern Family had a different tone. The style and charisma of Modern Family allowed for viewers to really feel like the characters were speaking to them. This style of filming gave us different perspectives on events that occurred. In addition, the hilarious confessionals brought us closer to the characters and gave us more insight into their world.

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Seeing the Family Grow Up Together

One of the sweetest parts of the show can be attributed to its 11-season run. This was due to the show’s smashing success and the characters’ lovability. For years, families across the country tuned in to see what the Pritchett/Dunphy clan was up to. Fans literally saw the characters grow up together. One show that comes close to this is the famous Full House, but Modern Family still beat it by three seasons. In recent years, we’ve seen some core family viewers also on NBC’s hit drama This Is Us. This show had so many relatable moments, characters, and stories that brought fans together and secured the show’s success.