Character Conflicts: Modern Family

ABC.com / 20th Century Fox Television

ABC.com / 20th Century Fox Television

Sitcom or drama, what good is a show without conflict? Modern Family being the comedy it is does this with humor. Essentially, there are plot points in different episodes that pair characters who are fundamentally different and see how they work through their differences. Sometimes they don’t work through them so much as gripe about them and make passive-aggressive remarks, but that’s what makes these conflicts so funny.

Luke and Manny: These two are what I’d consider to be “traditional opposites”. Luke is messy and goofy. Manny is neat and straight-laced. In reality, the two seem to get along just fine as long as they don’t room together. In season one episode “Hawaii,” Manny has a bit of a fit and kicks Luke out for being so messy. After one exchange Manny sarcastically remarksOh no, who will pee all over the bathroom floor?” To which Luke (in a manner much like his dad) reasons, “I was brushing my teeth at the same time…you try to do that.”

Claire and Gloria: On the surface, there’s easily a source of tension in the dynamic between Claire and Gloria, if only because Gloria is the new, younger wife of Claire’s dad. In the first season you can visibly see the level of discomfort Claire has around Gloria. It’s understandable because she’s still adjusting. When their children get into a fight in season one’s “Coal Digger,” they blame each other’s children for starting it. Claire’s own son outs her for calling Gloria a “gold digger” a while earlier. But Luke being Luke, he mishears and says “coal digger”. This adds to more contention, but the two make up and from that  point have a friendly but at times competitive relationship.

Jay and Javier: This is a pair that probably has the most authentic and challenging conflict. Javier is  Manny’s birth father, and although Jay is his stepdad, he does feel like he’s filled in a role for Manny that Javier hasn’t always been present in. It’s clear Jay is very fond of Manny When Javier shows up at random in “Lifetime Supply,” Jay makes a point to compete with him, as Javier shows up to take Manny to the racetrack for a birthday he missed. In the episode, Jay admits  that Javier returning is an unwanted reminder that he isn’t Manny’s real father.

Claire and Gloria are probably one of my favorite pairs to watch. Who’s yours?

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2 thoughts on “Character Conflicts: Modern Family

  1. After reading this post, it has convinced me to attempt and watch Modern Family more regularly! I have heard it is a fantastic show, and I love the fact that you dedicated a post to describing the conflicts among the characters. I have seen a handful of episodes, and I would have to agree that Claire and Gloria’s relationship conflict was by far the most entertaining!

  2. Each of the tensions you highlight here are some of my favorites to watch on Modern Family, along with any story involving Jay and Phil. I think the plot, though at times ridiculous, that arises from these conflicts is really representational of conflict and dynamics that exist in any family, which probably contributes to why so many people love this show.

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