No Agenda Behind 'Muppets' on 'Modern Family' (Video)
If you were watching Modern Family with the rest of the Emmy-winning comedy's 13.4 million viewers Wednesday, Oct. 12, you likely made the assumption that the multiple Muppets movie plugs were either paid or the synergistic workings of Disney, the corporate parent to both the show's network home and the movie's studio.
As it happens, neither is true. Instead, the mentions --first in the movie theater, and then later in Cam and Mitchell's retelling of the movie theater story to the extended family-- were 100 percent creatively driven, a spokesperson for the show confirmed. In this case, the series' writers were looking to include a current kids movie to reference in an arc about Cam and Mitchell ending up in the wrong theater, and then blasting a father who had taken his kids to see what the couple believed was a scary movie. That there was a Muppets ad for the movie, opening Nov. 23, running during one of the commercial breaks was still another coincidence.
It's worth noting that Modern Family has a history of incorporating actual brands and pop cultural references to lend authenticity to its storylines without any larger corporate agenda at play. You'll recall what appeared an Apple tie-in during season one, when Phil Dunphy spent much of an episode pining for a new iPad for his birthday, even petting one adoringly at the end of the show.
Though the show went through official channels to secure the then not-yet-released iPads for the shoot (and the late Steve Jobs sat on Disney's board), the idea to include them was initiated in the writers' room and no money was changed hands. (Given co-creators Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd's clout care of the show's critical and commercial success, multiple sources suggest they have earned the right --or at least, the power-- to deny any such requests when they do come up.)