Ever since viewers got to know Cam and Mitch, the devoted gay couple with children on ABC’s Modern Family, their inevitable marriage had been the subject of much speculation from season to season. The couple’s nuptials were never a matter of if, but when, so it came as no surprise when the network debuted the fifth season of the Emmy-winning comedy this week with a much-anticipated gay proposal.
What may seem like a long-overdue story arc to some could not have happened at a better time, according to openly gay series writer Jeffrey Richman. He told The Hollywood Reporter this week that “we hadn’t really talked about Mitch and Cam getting married until DOMA and Prop 8 came onto our radar.” After living together for eight years and adopting a daughter together, Richman said he wasn’t going to have the characters get married in a different state or “have a fake commitment ceremony.”
The plan to get Cam and Mitch hitched was set into motion months before the historic Prop 8 ruling this summer, a leap of faith that ultimately paid off for the show’s writers when their storyline finally became, well, legal. “I started writing, I became unexpectedly emotional,” Richman said of the proposal scene, which you can watch below. “I completely teared up seeing that moment where they both just say ‘yes’ at the exact same time. That was so moving for me. I felt like, ‘OK, maybe I got it right because I never cry at weddings.’”
A well-earned cry, if you ask us. Though it’s hard to believe, Modern Family has actually made history by sporting the very first gay characters on television to be legally married. “I realize how unbelievably fortunate I am as a writer and as a gay person to have participated in something like this,” Richman concluded, “and on an insanely popular TV show.”
But is it enough? How long are we to bask in the glory of TV’s first legal gay couple before we start demanding more?
Not long, apparently. Just hours after the proposal premiered, Salon went ahead and blasted the network for lacking in the gay sex department. In a post filed under “homophobia,” Katie McDonough points to recent research that suggests gay characters in pop culture have greatly influenced attitudes toward LGBTs in general and suggests the network may do well to jump in the sack with Cam and Mitch.
“Given the power of pop culture to shape and influence people’s views, wouldn’t a little romp between Cam and Mitch go a long way in terms of deflating homophobic squeamishness about gay sex?”, she asks, noting that the sitcom has explored the sex lives of the show’s other heterosexual couples:
In its effort to secure equal marriage rights, groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry painted a very palatable (and, of course, utterly realistic for many gay couples) portrait of suburban families who want the same things every other committed, long-term couple wants, like the ability to share health insurance, gain access to tax breaks and the like.
But the message behind the movement was, and continues to be: Gay people are just like straight people in their desires for safety, stability and mainstream acceptance. And that other thing? That sex thing? Let’s not talk about it.
What do you think? Would the unwashed masses benefit from watching a little Mitch on Cam (or Cam on Mitch?) action?