(Spoiler alert: This article discusses this week’s episode.)
As the husband in a conventional marriage, the issue of who’s the father and who’s the mother is not something that’s ever been raised in my house. But Modern Family and its tapestry of male types—including two gay married men, a gruff man’s man (Ed O’Neill), and his poetry-loving, sports-challenged stepson, Manny—assures that masculinity is often a hot topic on the ABC comedy. Once again this week’s Mother’s Day episode raised some interesting male-centric questions.
First, the question of whether one person in an all-male relationship should be designated the mother and be honored on Mother’s Day.
Mitchell, the redhead with the beard, brings breakfast in bad to Cam, telling him, “This is just the beginning, this is your day.”
Cam is offended and protests loudly, “You think of me as Lily’s mother! I’m your wife! I’m a woman!”
Afterward Mitchell addresses the camera, saying, “Honestly I’m a little offended that he accused me of that. I’m actually very sensitive about that issue. (Laughs). Like I would ever treat my partner as a woman.”
In the next scene, Mitchell leaves the bedroom and tells Lily, their young daughter, who is holding balloons and obviously waiting to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to Cam, too, “OK, scratch the balloons. She is in a mood.”
The rest of the episode hilariously examines the question of who’s the father and who’s the mother (if such roles even exist) in a gay marriage. But the topic of masculinity is raised in some of the show’s other relationships, too.
Ed O’Neill’s character, a man’s man, rarely resists the opportunity to needle son-in-law Phil. In this episode, Phil and Jay are cooking a meal for Mother’s Day while the women are out with the children. After Phil dons something he calls “onion goggles,” which will ostensibly protect his eyes when he’s cutting onions, he tells Jay, “No more tears when I cook. Welcome to the 21st century. You should get a pair.”
Jay replies, “I was gonna suggest the same thing.”
Later, though, when Jay comes across an old note from his mother in her cookbook, he’s the one who starts crying. He denies it, though, blaming the onions. The denial is short-lived, however, and Jay is soon blubbering that “you only get one mom.”
Yeah, it got a little dusty where I was.