- Posted November 4, 2010 by
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Modern Family: “It's not racist, it's satire”
For the usual atmosphere of the program, last night's episode felt a bit more reflective in many ways, showing realities that the modern families of today are beginning to feel. In the case of the Dunphys,Phil takes on the role of Claire (who is the multitasking supermom-wife that does everything right) because she is sick with the cold. Phil fails the test being unable to perform all the duties that customarily his perfectionist wife does almost without apparent effort. In an exchange of gender roles (something that could result in a cry to the heavens for many men) he proves the point that it is not easy being a housewife and that probably these brave women should be rewarded with a salary (but that’s only me in my flights of fancy in a macho world.) Although it could be seen as satirical, this time Phil actually teaches us the harsh realities of parenting, whether in the role of caregiver or provider, the two situations are difficult and much more when the economic situation does not help us. Here the example of the homes not being sold, where Luke presents the joke when he asks "What happens if people stop buying houses?" I think we all know the answer.
In the Pritchett home, the situation is a bit different when again Gloria has an obsession or a custom that is related to her heritage. But the marking the days on the calendar to celebrate any event like a big festivity can be attributed to any person of any ethnicity. Although, we must accept the Latinos (like myself) celebrate too many holidays on the calendar and Gloria's joke is simply a funny way of demonstrating this point. (Nothing to go to complain now to the embassy or to boycott the program, please people). For Jay, a very conservative older white guy, the only thing he likes is to live peacefully with no one messing with him or his family, all of Gloria’s commotion about the secret anniversary they have to celebrate is just a bit overwhelming for him. But at least he tries to understand his wife and goes along with all her occurrences. At the end he does not know what day is being celebrated until Manny, (after a discussion with him due to the dismissal of one of Jay’s worker), finally reveals the reason for the anniversary (the first kiss, of course, who can forget that day!). Jay and Manny are developing a deeper relationship and this is visible when Jay calls him his kid, something that moved the sentimental Manny.
To complete the episode, we could not missed Cameron's occurrences that always end up upsetting Mitchell. On this occasion the weight of the whole joke lies with them, as the focus of the satire of the night. Lilly is cast for a television commercial, even if Cam was so excited about it, Mitchell does not want that lifestyle for his daughter and wants her to have a normal childhood. But Cam saying: “I think that gay cruise has sailed", is something that cannot be easily swallow especially if someone argues that for being gay they could not give a normal life to their children, which will not go much to their favor when they fight for that right. A joke much ‘a la Gloria’.
Anyways, Mitchell has a point and is well understood with all the Hollywood stars that started this lifestyle in their childhood, being exposed into the world of show business causing them problems in their future. (Does the name Lilly rhymes with Lindsay? Hope not). In the end Cam does what he wants and ends up taking his daughter to film the commercial. Mitchell meets him in the filming place to make it clear that this is not healthy for Lilly and even points out that the commercial is very racist against Asians. Cam is still blinded by the lights of stardom until he sees the reality of the situation, when a Godzilla spoof is made and the white actors make cartoonish Japanese voiceovers (something I even found very disturbing). Cam stops the whole thing and discuses about how racist the commercial is. The director defends himself by claiming "it's not racist, it's satire." But Cam decides to take Lilly out of it and makes it even worst. He takes the wrong Asian baby, making an explicit joke, the one where white people think all Asians look alike. So now all the Asian community is going to complain about this, like in Gloria’s joke with Peruvians. Both jokes can be interpreted in different ways, but I hope everyone gets the irony and not the racist side of it.
As the commercial's director says: "It's not racist, it's satire". This sitcom is a satire. The writers of the series are probably getting into deep waters to show this episode but it sure is a response to all the commotion caused by the joke on the episode where Gloria talks about Peruvians. Apparently many people did not understand that joke, where the focus of the joke was Gloria, not Peruvians, to demonstrate the irony of stereotypes. But not everybody got it that way (Shame on you!). Although, not everything in the episode was a satire, there were moments of harsh reality that no matter how nicely you want to put it, it’s still difficult.
That’s the beauty of “Modern Family”, they are not afraid to present the stereotypes that exist in our society. And that the more we see the show the more we realize that rather than stereotypes they are individual idiosyncrasies of each character and it has little or nothing related to their origin. It’s just good comedy and we should enjoy it as it is.