One of our favorite shows recently went off the air. After 11 seasons of witty, smart, timely content, ABC’s Modern Family aired its last episode on April 8, 2020.
From the first episode we watched, we were drawn to this loving group of misfits, largely because we could relate to them (also because my husband has a thing for Sophia Vergara). The grandfather with a second wife and new family, the stressed out mother of three teens, the gay couple who are loving life together, and the teen who got pregnant then got married—for many of us all these scenarios are familiar. Although, perhaps not quite always as polished or comedic.
As we look at our own family, we’re thankful for every branch on the tree. The old and young, black and white, straight and gay, they’re all family. And much like the tv show, if you’re family we’re on your team. No questions asked—and we dare anyone else to do so. For us, this is what family is all about.
We’re not alone in this opinion. A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that nearly half of all Americans say the increasing changes to the “traditional” family structure make no difference, and another 30% say it’s actually a good thing. This includes trends such as same-sex marriage and unmarried couples living together. Clearly, as a nation we have fewer hang-ups about what constitutes “family”, as compared to previous generations.
Another insightful element of the show was its ability to point out common human flaws, making them both relatable and humorous. Many type-A working mothers can relate to Clair, the overworked mom who constantly tried to do it all, only to realize that this expectation was her own self-imposed source of stress. Or Phil, the dad who would do anything in order to connect with his kids. Or the smart sister who didn’t feel pretty, and the pretty sister who didn’t feel smart.
Modern Family highlighted these human insecurities and resolved them with a “moral of the story” ending within 30 minutes. And while that’s not very realistic, it did sometimes offer a perspective worth considering. Maybe it’s okay for a busy mom to ignore a dirty kitchen once in a while to have dinner with friends. Maybe dads don’t have to work so hard to connect with their kids, making time for conversation may be enough.
But perhaps the most worthwhile message the show leaves us with is that of acceptance and forgiveness. Again, the half-hour format overly simplifies the realities and challenges of life, but no matter what offenses are committed or who’s feelings were hurt, in the end this family sticks together. In real life, this may be about prioritizing, understanding that the intent was not to hurt, and working to build the bond of family. With this in mind, it becomes easier to ignore your sister’s chronic tardiness or disregard your uncle’s abrasive remarks, and accept these (less desirable) traits as part of what makes these people who they are.
So while we’ll miss the laughs offered by Modern Family, we know we still have the real thing. A group of people connected by blood or marriage or history; who are there for each other day or night; who willingly accept each other for who we are now and who we have yet to become; who support support one another’s dreams but don’t miss an opportunity to make fun of each other; and who love each other unquestionably.
As you gear up for your next family gathering, and you’re thinking about the many ways they may get on your nerves (and there are plenty), take a moment to consider how fortunate you are to have these people in your life. Be grateful for the time you have together and take every moment to show them. After all, it’s the only family you have.