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October 8, 2015

Have You Noticed That 'Modern Family' Is Oblivious To the Recession?

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 28th 2010 10:07AM
There's so much to like about ABC's award-winning new sitcom 'Modern Family' that it seems almost curmudgeon-like to complain. Nevertheless, you have to wonder where in the world 'Modern Family' is located. No, not the place; it's clearly Southern California. No, it's the economy. 'Modern Family' resides in an economy unaffected by the recession. Everybody is doing well. Nobody's worried about paying the mortgage, or – God forbid – facing foreclosure. Things are going so well in 'Modern Family' world that the entire clan is heading to Hawaii for a family vacation.

Wow, remember when your family could afford to fly off for a holiday? It was probably some time around the turn of the century ... 2000. Maybe 'Modern Family' is in a time warp because they're all checking into the Four Seasons Maui. It'll be the May 12 season finale, so tune in if you want to live vicariously.

If you take a closer look, you'll find glaring examples of how out of touch the families on 'Modern Family' are to the worldwide economic downturn. Phil Dunphy, for instance, works as a realtor. Anyone who knows anything about the current housing market will tell you that real estate brokers are making a fraction of the income they made in the past.

The depreciated value of homes has caused realtors to turn to other professions. However, Phil has displayed no downturn in his market. If anything, the Dunphys are really well off. When the iPad was released in early April, Claire went out to buy it for Phil without even questioning the price.

Jay and Gloria are doing even better than Phil and Claire. They've never explained exactly what Jay does for a living, other than to suggest that he's a boss and he's very successful. Gloria shops in the nicest boutiques – with Claire – and their home is beautifully appointed. The recession has many families clipping coupons and cutting back on expenses, but not on 'Modern Family.'

Then there's Cam and Mitchell. Up until a few episodes ago, Mitchell was a hard-working corporate attorney. But when the hours he had to log became too much because Mitchell was missing out on all the changes in daughter Lily's life, he simply quit his job. Mitchell didn't think it over; he actually acted hastily and without serious consideration for his family. Cam had been a stay-at-home parent, contributing nothing to the family income.

And, presumably, the medical coverage for Cam and Lily was courtesy of Mitchell's benefits – or at least he paid for their coverage out of his pocket. When he quit, not only was Mitchell cutting off the family income, he was putting them in jeopardy.

Now, since then, Cam tried to get a job in the real world and was working in a card shop for $10 an hour. He hated it and was grateful when Mitchell managed to land another job so he could return to being Lily's caretaker.

However, even before he starts that job, everyone is heading to Hawaii for this family get together. How great would it be to live the life of the Dunphys and the Pritchetts! That's the 'Modern Family' life I'd like to be living.

[Check out episodes of 'Modern Family' on SlashControl.]

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All of you lighten up... including you, Allison Waldman It's a comedy TV show. Life sucks. Always has, always will. We don't want to be reminded of that when we want sanctuary for 30 minutes.

May 25 2010 at 5:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I prefer shows that aren't too ingrained in reality. Yes, the recession has really affected some people's lives, but I watch tv to escape from reality.

In regards to Claire throwing away the cupcakes - I too would (normally) have thought "wow, what a waste of food". I definitely would not have done that, but it's not because the recession has affected me. No, it's because I grew up in a middle-class family who believed in thriftiness and my mom always told us that if we waste food, we will go hungry later on in life. Karma being what it is and stuff. But when I watch a tv show, if it has good writing, I don't notice stuff like that. I'm too busy focusing on the story and the jokes, than little stuff like that.

April 28 2010 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Allison, I think whether anyone notices or not depends very much on personal perspective. My household is very much impacted by the recession. We're on 1 income, and my spouse has been looking for work for a long time with no sign of a job in the near future. We've had to make many changes - some minor, some a but painful. We can still pay our utilities and pay for our cars and send our child to a nice school but we don't spontaneously shop for anything anymore. If an item is not absolutely needed we do without it. Instead of 2 vacations a year, we've scaled back to 1 and we've cut back our dinner take out nights to 2 a month and 1 restaurant night a month...etc, etc .... So yeah, when we TV we often 'guffaw' at the lifestyle we see on many TV shows that wouldn't be realistic for us at all in our own lifes. For example, during the repeat last week when Claire threw away the 40 cupcakes she made for her daughter just to make a point - sure we laughed but we also commented that there's no way we'd be able to do that same thing in our lives. We can't afford to waste food like that. And when Gloria crashed the car into the cupcake cafe we laughed but I still thought, jeez shouldn't she be more upset - I mean she just trashed her car. (Sigh) so yeah, some of us do notice, but I still enjoy the show and find it highly entertaining.

April 28 2010 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
the dude

since when is anything on tv "real". get a life.

April 28 2010 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry..nothing to do w/ this article, but dont know how to contact you...You still writing for US of Tara? I didnt see a recap from this week.

April 28 2010 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

Love Both The Middle and Modern Family and I don't really require Modern Family to be dealing seriously with our current recession to enjoy the show. It's a nice escapist comedy. Laughter is a such a good thing for the soul.

April 28 2010 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They're probably thinking about syndication and do not wish to put too much of current topics (IPad notwithstanding) in the show. In ten years, is someone watching the syndicated rerun going to "get" any on-screen angst regarding the economy of 2009/2010? Probably not.
And, that being said, I don't find it unrealistic at all. Mitchell is a lawyer - I don't that industry is hurting, Jay appears to be pretty wealthy, and let's just assume that even if Phil is affected by the poor economy, maybe he hit it big earlier on and they are living comfortably off their savings. I myself, am in the best financial situation I've ever been in and still find the funds to get the occasional high priced gadget. So it's reasonable to me that others can.

April 28 2010 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know someone who has a family, is laid off and is exactly like Phil, he spends so much money on new gadgets like the iPad, any new phone that comes out (even though he already has one of the latest) despite not working. So its not a stretch to me that someone people ignore realities.

April 28 2010 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Allison, I think you're just a miserable person in general. Like all the other posters said, people don't need to be constantly reminded that things aren't as great as they could be. We all know that.
However, it's really nice to be able to watch a smart and funny show without having to worry about the recession. And yes, I have a job and money.

April 28 2010 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not all people are doing bad financially as a result of the recession.

Maybe it was a conscious decision on ABC's part not to mention it. After all, this is make-believe, escapism TV . . . nice not to have to deal with reality for 22 minutes, you know.

April 28 2010 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tool's comment

It's more like a conscious decision on the part of ABC to advertise products. This show is 80% hilarious and 20% conspicuous consumption.

April 28 2010 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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