Modern Family has been fighting a strange battle since debuting last year. On the one hand, its two main gay characters are treated as normal people in the show, not as caricatures, and their sexual orientation is treated with respect. On the other hand, for its entire first season, they never kissed onscreen despite the straight couples kissing all the time. Was the show trying to have it both ways, acting progressively while avoiding the reality of what they were representing on screen? Well, last night they finally made that kiss happen, and they did it in a way that really sums up the entire show.
Kissing and showing affection was the theme of the whole episode, and the entire thing was handled in typical Modern Family fashion: cheesy, but in a way that was funny enough to be endearing rather than off-putting. And after building the kiss up for the entire episode, when it finally happened, it was done in a subtle, almost blink-or-you’ll-miss-it sort of way. It wasn’t held up as a big piece to show how brave and forward-thinking the show was (at least the kissing scene itself), and it worked as a part of the story and not as some statement that was bigger than the show.
And, as the show remained a killer in the ratings last night, besting everything else on network TV that night, I think we can still be happy that a show that so expertly balances the type of smart, progressive comedy that comedy geeks and mainstream family fare alike obsess over exists and is flourishing.