Emmy Winner ‘Modern Family’ Leads the Way in Catholic Values

September 24, 2012

ABC’s comedy series, Modern Family, won four Emmy Awards last night:  best comedy series, best director (Steve Levitan), best supporting actress (Julie Bowen), and best supporting actor (Eric Stonestreet).

The series, which features the experiences of an extended family which includes a gay couple who’ve adopted a baby girl, was honored earlier this year by the Catholics in Media Associates, which noted that the show

“. . . remains far and away the best prime-time sitcom: crisp and farcical, but very kind. This fast-paced mockumentary perfectly captures the experience of parenthood.”

In anticipation of the Emmy Awards, Sister Rose Pacatte, offered her own analysis of her favorite shows in a National Catholic Reporter blog post which included her take on Modern Family:

“Jay’s [the show’s patriarch] family represents the new reality of today’s American family (Catholic or otherwise), though it is not divorce and remarriage, but the gay couple with a child is what upsets many viewers. Certainly many families may not have gay or divorced and remarried members, but the reality is, many do. They always did, but we didn’t see them in the comforting idealistic television of the ’50s, ’60s and into the ’70s. Some viewers may not approve of the gay couple or the gay couple adopting a child on a mainstream network television show. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has clear teaching about homosexuality and clear teaching on how to treat homosexual persons, that they “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” This is how I interpret “Modern Family.” After all, Thanksgiving dinner comes to all of us, when family members gather from far and wide, and “Modern Family” offers a way of being. When from one year to the next, you have no idea who will show up at the table, who they will bring along, if they will be the same gender as the year before — and if they are moving back to the neighborhood and may be in your life every day. Television is entertainment and not Sunday school (the film critic Roger Ebert said this about film, but the same goes for television), and you do not have to condone homosexuality to find seeds of the consistent paradox that is the Gospel in “Modern Family.” Yes, television does normalize behaviors and flattens values into a smorgasbord. But television is an opportunity for people of faith because it forms a metaphorical table around which we can gather and talk about things that matter.”

Modern Family does indeed present the gay couple, Cameron and Mitchell, with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity”–probably more so than any other gay characters have ever been presented on television.  It would be hard for even the most virulent anti-gay person watching the show to be too critical of Cameron and Mitchell because they are presented in such a loving fashion.  As Sister Rose states:

“I remain astonished at the writers, who are able to get so many layers of humanity into 21 minutes.”

Besides being entertaining, such authentic and human presentation of not only gay people, but the other characters in this contemporary family, can only help our society grow in understanding diversity.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Catholic Media Award to “Modern Family”

May 12, 2012

Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) awarded its highest television honor this year to Modern Family, an ABC comedy which includes a gay couple with an adopted baby as part of its regular cast.   According to the organization’s website:

“This remains far and away the best prime-time sitcom: crisp and farcical, but very kind. This fast-paced mockumentary perfectly captures the experience of parenthood.”

In describing the depiction of the  gay couple, Mitchell and Cameron, and their adopted Vietnamese daughter, Lily, the CIMA site states:

“They’re learning all the parenting ropes as they go. Fortunately, they have the loving support of their extended, eclectic, ever-funny family.”

CIMA’s description of itself on its website is:

“Catholics in Media Associates was formed by working professionals in the entertainment industry whose initial purpose was to share personal concerns of faith and spirituality as it is experienced in the workplace.

“From that early beginning came the CIMA Awards, recognizing those projects and people in the entertainment industry who, by their work, have made clearer the Word of God. These awards were created to promote and applaud films, television programs and other entertainment forms that uplift the spirit and help us better understand what it is to be part of the human family.”

Their awards to television and film are sometimes referred to as the “Catholic Emmys” and “Catholic Oscars.”

Presenting the award to Modern Family certainly raised a few eyebrows in the media world, but certainly in a positive direction.  The award went a long way to help dispel the enduring myth that Catholics don’t support marriage equality.  Some responses from news accounts about the award tell the story:

Yahoo.com News:

” ‘Modern Family’ might not be the most obvious choice to be showered with accolades by a religious organization, but the ABC comedy was honored by the Catholics in Media Associates over the weekend anyway.”

LezGetReal.com:

“There are those on both sides of the LGBT debate who love to push this false decision between religion and sexual identity. There are, of course, those in between who want to make it clear that you do not have to choose between religion and being gay. Catholics in Media Associates honored the show ‘Modern Family’ this past weekend.”

The Hollywood Reporter:

“Referred to as the ‘Catholic Oscar,’ though in this case it would be the ‘Catholic Emmy,’ the Catholics in Media Associates has given ABC’s Modern Family its 2012 television award.

“That may come as a shock for some as the series has come under fire from conservative groups for its representation of alternative lifestyles with Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) gay marriage.”

The Human Rights Campaign:

“The 11-time Emmy winning Modern Family can add another accolade to its list: the Television Award from Catholics in Media Associates.

“Conservative groups have targeted the ABC comedy for featuring a loving and committed gay family, or even for acknowledging that gay people exist.

“However, this award from a leading Catholic body sends a strong message that ‘family values’ can incorporate all kinds of families, including LGBT ones.”

Congratulations not only to Modern Family, but to CIMA for their wise choice!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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