The there is no dominant family structure in the

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines
the word “modern” as “of, relating to, or characteristic of the present or the
immediate past” (Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, 2017). The word “family”
is defined as, “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two
parents rearing their children” (Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, 2017). The
title of the sitcom thus immediately conveys conflict within the stereotypical
family structure and sends the first message of challenging society norms. The
traditional and most common family structure in the 1960s, in America was the “married
couple family with children.” Ozzie and Harriet, and Leave it to Beaver, popular
television shows in those days consisted of children living with married biological
parents. This type of structure was known as the “nuclear family (US Census
Bureau, 2003). This structure however, is no longer a predominant model in
America or for that matter in the developed world. This is due to the rise in divorce,
remarriage, single parenting and cohabiting.  Family size is also shrinking due to economic
reasons, lower fertility and the growth of single parent households. The Pew Research
Center estimates 40% of new births “occur to women who are single or living
with a non-marital partner” ( Pew Research Center, 2015). A new family
structure, that of the “blended family” has also arisen due to remarriages. The
Pew Research Center cites studies by the US Census Bureau, which defines blended
families “as a household with a step-parent, step-sibling/half-sibling”, and estimates
that “16% of children are living in blended families” (Pew Research Center,
2015). The rise of immigration to the US and change in laws has resulted in an
increase in interracial marriages. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that
interracial marriages were legal. Among all married couples in the US 10%, are
now intermarried with Asian, Hispanics leading, and the most common paring
being Hispanic and white (Pew Research Center, 2017).  Finally yet importantly, the changing attitudes
towards same-sex marriages and favorable ruling by the Supreme Court have
ensured there is no dominant family structure in the US anymore.  

In the traditional family structure, the
role of a woman was that of a wife and a mother taking care of the children and
ensuring the emotional needs of her family were met. The mother was typically
identified as” being fully dependent” on her spouse for major decisions. The
father’s role was that of a provider. Typically, identified as a strong,
unemotional, dominant individual who laid down the rules of behavior for the
family. These gender norms evolved from social, religious, and cultural beliefs
and evolved over centuries. Gender roles are however beginning to change with
societal acceptance of gender equality. More women are now entering the work
force giving rise to a dual income family model. Parents are beginning to take
joint responsibility for raising children. Couples whether married or not wish
to spend less time parenting and desire more leisure time with a higher quality
of life.

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Modern family revolves around the lives
of three families that our related through the family patriarch, Jay Pritchett.
Jay represents the average America dad whose strict values of right and wrong
represents the traditional strong father figure. He is sarcastic,
short-tempered, and hates to be wrong. He has difficulty expressing his
emotions, loves sports and is highly competitive, is not technology savvy, but
an acceptable handy man. He is the family’s anchor and “goto” person when they
need guidance. Jay has difficulty accepting his sons’ gay marriage, but  makes an effort.  Jay’s brother Donnie and ex-wife, Dee Dee,
make appearances frequently. Both have conflicting relationships with Jay with
moments of reconciliation and affection.

Jay is married to a beautiful and sensual
Colombian woman, Gloria, who is half his age. Gloria is fiery tempered, and proud
of her Colombian heritage. She portrays the suburban homemaker who is obsessed
with the well-being of her children. As much as she loves living in America,
she is seem struggling to speak English and coping with the cultural norms of
the American way of life. On occasion Gloria’s mother, Pilar and sister, Sonia
make an appearance to further raise complicated interracial family issues. Both,
are portrayed as stereotypical, strong willed South American women. The
inclusion of Gloria and her family reflects the increase in the Hispanic
demographic in the U.S. It is interesting to reflect if any other ethnic
culture could have been written into the script instead, and achieved the same
effect.  

Gloria’s son Manny, from her previous
marriage is portrayed as a kind, emotional, sensitive young man who is extremely
mature for his age. He has refined tastes in food and clothing and prefers
fencing to playing regular contact sports. Jay would prefer to see Manny play hard-hitting
sports and would love to get an opportunity to be involved, something that he
could not engage in with Mitchell. Manny adores his biological, but
irresponsible father, Javier, but is respectful of Jay, as his stepfather. Joe
dislikes Javier, intensely, which is not, an uncommon emotion for ex-husbands.

Essentially, the
Pritchett family falls in the category of an interracial and blended family.
The role assigned to Joe and Gloria is, functional and complimentary. Jays’
character is easy to identify with by baby boomers and relatable to their own
fathers by millennials. His role fits classically into the traditional family
structure of that of a provider and protector.  Gloria’s role is also very much of the
traditional homemaker. A number of episodes deal with the issue of culture
clash. In one episode, the difference in cultural expectations over Christmas
celebrations is played out. Jay wishing to celebrate with a tree and presents
and Gloria, and Manny with firecrackers and practical jokes. The writers resolve
the issue through humor and compromise, but in general shy away from developing
any complex situations that would reflect some of the