Pride Month 2020: Modern Family's Mitchell and Cam show us how gay relationships can be explored the right way
For 11 years, ABC's iconic television comedy 'Modern Family' was a beacon of hope, love, and laughter. The dysfunctional and somewhat broken Pritchetts opened their lives to absolutely polar opposite partners, and thus we saw a family that wasn't just white, but also Colombian and Vietnamese. But no mention of the comedy is complete without a special nod to the phenomenal gay couple - Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Fergusson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) - who singlehandedly revolutionized the representation of queer love on primetime TV, and not just on the relationship front. In their own individual arcs, with all of their flaws, fallacies, and often hilarious stereotypes there's a reason why Mitchell Pritchett and his husband Cameron Tucker-Pritchett can't be mentioned without each other. And even when not totally complimenting each other while giving us newer relationship goals with each episode of the now over comedy, there's no celebrating pride month in the world of television without the due acknowledgment these two characters should receive.
Mitchell and Cam, both flamboyant in their own ways start off as a happy couple who've been together for half a decade and have just adopted a baby girl from Vietnam. And thus begins their story of fitting in as a parent in a world dominated mostly by heterosexual couples, and making abundant mistakes along the way, while always learning, and teaching us to do better. When not fixated on the central focus of their lives - their daughter Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) - Mitchell and Cam are actually two extremely different people inherent; the phrase opposites attract couldn't be truer in their case because, for the two characters, the only thing they have in common is the color of their skin and their sexual orientation.
Mitchell is your typical city boy, closeted gay until the age of 23, struggling to frame a functional relationship with his stubborn father who is conditioned by his conservative upbringing of the 50s. Mitchell is also an environmental lawyer and the prime bread earner of the family. He can't bear housework but is severely obsessive about keeping things in place and clean. Taking a courtroom by storm, Mitchell is terrified of the birds and the bees - literally, and is also quite turned on every time his clown (yes, again literally) of a husband makes a grand gesture to defend him in public. Yet the multifaceted workaholic is labeled as the feminine one in their relationship by his father in law, even though his husband Cam is clearly the more emotional and dramatic one.
Cam, who is as sensitive as the lead in a daytime soap opera, is a country boy who grew up surrounded by farm animals and toughened by working at their family farm from an early age. In his own words, he can't bear the idea of not being a stay-at-home parent. Staying away from his daughter Lily is the hardest thing he has had to do, and the one time Mitchell goes jobless, it's a living nightmare for Cameron who can't wait to go back to being a 'trophy wife' as he so lovingly calls himself. Cam loves to cook and leave a mess; he loves grand entrances, dramatic exits, and gossip in ungodly proportions. But don't let his seemingly effeminate side deceive you; our country boy is a living proof that you can get a manicure at 3, and coach a football team at 5. His love for sports is what brings him closer to his conservative father in law Jay (Ed O'Neil), whose ideal man has served in the war and loves a good steak.
It is perhaps these layers to the two characters that help them fit so well around the somewhat jagged and undulated puzzle pieces that make their individual selves. The two characters were perhaps one of the earliest semblances of how gay couples didn't necessarily have to fit into typically gender-oriented roles in the relationship. They are both messy, yet articulate at things they love. They are great dads to their kids Lily and Rexford, and even greater as mothers - a role which they don't let their kids feel the absence of at all. As two white men raising an adolescent Asian girl for the longest time, Mitchell and Cam, individually have made us laugh and cry several times. Be it while enduring the heartbreak of a second adoption gone wrong, or the thrill of watching them walking down the aisle. And to label them as just influential LGBTQUIA++ characters o TV would be a gross understatement.