'Modern Family' Finale: Cast, Creators on the Cultural Impact of Mitch and Cam's Wedding
"Comedy comes first," says exec producer Steven Levitan. "We hope that we entertain people and make them feel something, and if from that people can be a bit more accepting, that’s a wonderful bonus.”
Swan ice sculptures and the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles filled the Fox lot Monday evening for a Modern Family soiree.
In celebration of Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam's (Eric Stonestreet) onscreen wedding, the cast and creators of ABC's four-time Emmy winner for outstanding comedy gathered for a packed Television Academy event that included a screening of the two-part finale (the second installment doubles as the May 21 finale) and a Q&A session.
The wedding was an emotional moment for the cast, and they're hoping the exchanging of vows also satisfies fans. Julie Bowen told The Hollywood Reporter that the countless memories the cast has garnered over the past five years culminated at the altar: "We were all sobbing. There wasn’t a dry eye."
Telling relatable stories and making people laugh remains the show's top agenda, but with a gay wedding front and center, all are also aware of Modern Family's cultural impact.
"It’s the evolution of a gay couple that at the end of it you forget that they’re gay," says Ferguson, who married partner Justin Mikita last July. "I think that when a lot of people watch the wedding episode, they’re going to see it as a marriage between two people that they care very much about and forget that it is a wedding between two men specifically."
Stonestreet adds: "We hope it creates a conversation with viewers and also their families and friends to see that Mitch and Cam are just like everyone else."
Co-creator Steven Levitan is proud of the show's impact, acknowledging that he, along with various castmembers, have heard from numerous gay teens that they've been able to come out because of Modern Family. (Bowen jokes that she rarely hears from gay couples and singles whose lives are changed, but plenty of moms tell her, "I am you. You don't understand, I am you.") But Levitan is adamant there's no agenda behind the scripts -- other than trying to get people to tune in, of course.
"Comedy comes first," says Levitan. "We hope that we entertain people and make them feel something, and if from that people can be a bit more accepting, that’s a wonderful bonus.”
Ty Burrell, too, hopes the show is "furthering the cause," but believes that the storyline is apolitical with Prop 8's passage in California.
Co-creator Christopher Lloyd echoed Levitan and Burrell's sentiments, emphasizing that the writers don't set out to influence people or dwell on what's culturally significant: "The show has never been political, but our hope is that people who are a tiny bit squeamish about a gay wedding might find themselves getting caught up in the show, thinking, 'That, in a strange way, invokes emotions in me that I wasn’t expecting.'"
But detractors do exist, and when they speak up -- whether in person or (more likely) on the Internet -- Stonestreet will strike back: "On Twitter, sometimes I get baited into exposing idiocy and stupid people because I think it’s fun to beat them around a little bit like a kitten hits a little yarn ball around."
Lloyd acknowledges that the criticism, however, is muted, something he attributes to the actors' ability to make their characters likable and unthreatening. "[Mitch and Cam] seem like a typical hetero couple in the things that they’re focused on, so even the anti-crowd gives [them] a pass to a certain extent," he tells THR.
The cast and creators were quiet when he came to any hints regarding the direction of the show in the sixth season. "I’m separation of church and state – I act, they write," Ed O'Neill joked. "I like to be surprised."