You know a cause is important when there’s a Facebook group dedicated to it. Okay, maybe not. But last night's kiss between Modern Family’s Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) was long overdue. The smooch between the show’s resident gay couple was supposed to be the centerpiece of the much-hyped episode. So what did I think about the kiss?
What kiss? No, really. I didn’t even notice the Mitch-Cam smooch the first time around—I had to rewind to find it. (Thanks, DVR.) For all the controversy surrounding the lack of first-season gay kissing, and all the self-congratulatory back-patting for finally doing it, the kiss was a half-second peck. In the background. With everyone else kissing at the same time. Am I the only one who missed it?
Now, I like Modern Family. It’s a warm, funny show, and I commend it for including a gay couple—with a child, no less. But everything about the Mitch-Cam kiss (and the lead-up) irked me. Is it nice that they finally followed through? I guess. But having Mitch be PDA-phobic was an all-too-convenient excuse for Season 1’s chastity. Not to mention the fact that many of the scenes the couple share occur behind closed doors. Why wouldn’t Mitch want to kiss his husband in the comfort of their home? The episode even included a few almost-kisses as a tease: “OMG, are they really going to do it?” Seriously? Is that where we are as a culture?
There’s no doubt we have a long way to go. But other series have been there, done that long before Modern Family: Dawson’s Creek. Degrassi: The Next Generation. Every show on HBO, ever. Just this summer, Pretty Little Liars (an ABC Family production!) showed two girls making out—and not, as is so often the case with media portrayal, to get attention from boys. I guess because it’s a mainstream, critically adored network hit, Modern Family has more to lose. But the series has featured a gay couple from day one: Was having them kiss really such a big deal?
"But this is a family comedy," you say. I agree—we don’t need to see any of the characters, gay or straight, giving each other tongue. But Mitch and Cam’s relationship isn’t just lacking kisses: Most of the time, there’s no flirtation, affection, or intimacy. For all their arguments, we see the passion between Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen). And age difference or not, it’s pretty clear that Jay (Ed O’Neill) is way into Gloria (Sofia Vergara). Do we ever get a sense that Mitch and Cam are actually attracted to each other? You can show that and still keep things PG. So step it up, Modern Family.
At least last night’s episode did include one such moment, with Mitch and Cam cuddling together on the couch. In my mind, that’s more progressive than a half-assed kiss. It shows how they feel about each other. It paints them as spouses instead of just BFFs. So before we call it a day, let’s see more of that. It’s easy to find comic-relief gay characters on TV. It’s a lot harder to find gay romance.