I wish I was as optimistic as Erik Kain about the possibility of Mitch and Cam tying the knot on-camera in Modern Family:
You see, I’m almost positive that during the show we’ll see the couple get officially, legally hitched. I’m not sure if this will follow the return of gay marriage to California, or whether they’ll tie the knot-tying into the show in some other way, but I do think we’ll get the wedding. The act of getting married on the show would be far more powerful and emotionally moving than having Mitch and Cam married from the outset. Hell, I got all teary in the “Hawaii” episode when Phil threw Claire the surprise second-wedding.
I could be wrong, of course, but a wedding makes for great television. A gay wedding on Modern Family would not only be fantastic TV, it would be a really great moment for gay rights, equality and social progress in America. Furthermore, Americans are ready for it – for the first time ever, more Americans support rather than oppose gay marriage.
One commenter objected to the idea that Mitch and Cam should have gotten married already because marriage rights were only available briefly in California, though when the show began, the pair had been together for years, and given that they were planning to adopt, it seems fairly reasonable that they might have tied the knot first to make sure their future family would be protected.
And I think that gets at why Erik’s wrong. If Modern Family has Mitch and Cam get hitched without the force of law behind them, they’ll be doing something that Friends did in 1996, putting on a ceremony that a lot of viewers won’t know doesn’t actually convey any legal rights or responsibilities to the couple going through it. And if they wait until marriage is legal in California again, that feels like really kicking the issue down the road, following rather than leading. I’m not say showing Cam and Mitch’s wedding wouldn’t have an impact (though I fear it would also be an occasion for the show to take one of its unfortunately frequent detours into gay stereotyping), but that it would also be forceful and quiet to just assert that normal is a world where two men who are raising a daughter and talking about having a second child are married, and why can’t the rest of us catch up? The show appears to want some credit for leading, even if its creators joke that they’re just normalizing trophy wives. If so, they should do the work to actually be out in front.