Ty Burrell: Modern Family Is ‘Making The World A Better Place’

In a new interview with The Telegraph, Modern Family actor Ty Burrell says he believes that the show has helped the gay community. 

He discusses how it's appeal to conservatives could have changed some of their views on gays and lesbians:

Ty_Burrell_crop_2852618b“This is probably a little overwrought, but I do actually think the writers are making the world a better place,” Burrell says earnestly. “It’s one of my favourite things about the show. I love it when I talk to conservatives and they’re describing all three couples, and they never mention that one of them is gay. That’s the brilliance of the writing. In a completely unaggressive, apolitical way, they are showing this couple as completely normal dealing with ordinary stuff. The banality of it is the most revolutionary thing.

“I think if you turned around and asked that same conservative person how they felt about gay marriage, that probably hasn’t changed for them, but the seed has been planted none the less. It’s progress and it’s the coolest thing.”

One person we hope will soon become a regular viewer of the show: Tennessee senator Joey Hensley.


  1. says

    Wellll……yes and no. We’re not in a Post-Gay culture yet. Not by a long shot. “they never mention that one of the couples is gay”…. i don’t see how that’s a 100% inherently *good* thing, to be honest.

    i think the show *is* doing a lot of good, in that “gays made palatable for insecure and decidedly-prejudiced straights” sorta of way. but it’s a small part of the greater solution. GAY should not be fine just as long as it’s boring, mundane, sexless, and whitewashed to the point banality. That’s not *news* – oh, wow. We’re tolerated as long as we’re neutered and dull and exemplify what a conservative would prefer we look like or act like. I get ot – there’s value to that Baby Step – but only if that baby step leads to other more progressive understandings of diversity.

    We don’t want any more of this “well, i don’t mind gays as long as they don’t ____ ____, _____ and I’m fine with them if they’re more like straight people than “stereotypical gays” – stereotypical, of course, being a meaningless buzz-term that means something different to every ninny that says it.

    And I remain more than a bit concerned with the way gay characters are cast, and how it affects how gay men see themselves and others; specifically, the practice of casting the Actually-Gay guy in the role of the “gayer” guy, and the Actually-Straight actor in the role of the “not quite as gay” guy – such a thing leads far too many gay men to cluelessly identify with ….drumroll please…the straight guy playing gay but playing it straight. We have legions of gay men who mistakenly walk around with the delusion that people think they’re straight, or that other *gay people* can’t tell that they’re Family. they’re almost always wrong.

    Modern Family is a good show, with terrific actors and a lot of heart. It’s indeed doing a lot of Good – for straight people and gay people and mixed-families of all types. I’m glad the show exists. I’m glad it’s popular. I’m glad it’s changing hearts and minds. I simply hope it’s changing them to be more understanding of all of us, not just those whose lives or manner may mimic a rather sexless and ‘traditional/conventional’ type of being.

    There’s still a need for “gay things for straight people who are still on the fence about gay people” – as a gay man, I’m just much relieved when programming and film and art doesn’t care to cater to those who are lagging behind.

  2. Francis says

    The show does well in desensitizing people. Does it actually change minds? I don’t think it’s deep enough to do that. Maybe a few but Cam and Mitch don’t act couple-y enough for my taste.

  3. Tigernan says

    Modern Family is a minstrel show where sanitized gays dance around for the amusement of a conservative audience. If you really take a critical eye on the show you will see nothing but disturbing behavior all around. And there is no way that Mitch and Cam are anything but the most embarrassing “couple” around.

  4. Vera says

    ^Spiteful, but accurate Tigernan. The day a non-middle class, assimilationist or aristocratic gay couple is shown on TV, played by gay actors, is the day hell would also freeze over.

    I think Lesbians are portrayed a little better, though we’re almost exclusively portrayed as middle aged, one is divorced from a straight man, and mothers to half a dozen kids.

  5. Dback says

    As long as the rest of the season brings more sweet episodes like the proposal ep (or even last week’s masterful Vegas trip), I’m fine with it. There have been a few too many episodes where Cam and Mitchell acted like they could barely stand each other, unlike Phil and Claire who always have deep love under the surface friction. (But really, how did Mitchell go from dating Fred Armisen to Eric Stonestreet? He must have a very flexible “type.”)

  6. pete n sfo says

    One of my fave episodes was the ‘date’ btwn Ty Burrell & Matthew Broderick. Phil, who is straight, walking shirtless up the stairs to his bedroom with a drink in each hand, having just received a kiss on the way out the door from Matthew, whom he now realizes is gay… finally puts it all together. “Ohhh…” :)
    This show is terrific. Yes, they are one type of gay couple & there’s some exaggerating & stereotyping, but that’s true of all the couples & it’s a major network, sit-com, not Brokeback Mountain.
    Ty is correct; barriers are broken slowly & broken most easily when people have let down their defenses. I’m a huge fan is his & the show.

  7. SpaceCadet says

    I watched the 1st three seasons of this show and found it really funny but then I pretty much stopped cold turkey because it felt repetitive. I think it’s difficult to keep sitcoms feeling fresh. Anyhow, I also had a crush on Ty Burrell for awhile as well – the straight DILF fantasy I had going on. Haha.

  8. Chris says

    While I don’t always love Modern Family, for the most part I like it. But I agree with DBack above; I have always wondered why Mitch and Cam are together. There is a lot of bickering between the couple on the show—which is why I can’t get onboard with it 100 percent—but Mitch and Cam’s sniping and frequent dishonesty with each other makes me wonder why they are together. They don’t seem to even like each other.

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