Will ‘Modern Family’s Gay Kiss Hurt Its Ratings?

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet.  (ABC)

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet. (ABC)

It seemed like it might happen in a clothing store. The kiss, that is – the long-awaited kiss between ‘Modern Family’s gay couple, Mitchell and Cam. In the scene, Cam is shopping for clothes when he is overcome with affection after Mitchell makes a loving comment. He reaches out to hug and kiss his partner, but Mitchell suddenly darts out of reach, uncomfortable, we’re informed a moment later, with public displays of affection. Rest assured, the kiss happens in tonight’s new episode of the hit comedy, but it doesn’t happen that easily. Nor should it.

After all, this is no ordinary kiss – not to the thousands of fans who’ve been campaigning for such a moment on the Facebook page, “Let Cam & Mitchell Kiss On Modern Family.” And not to the 13 million-plus fans who simply love the show and its characters. So first question, how’s the episode? “It’s classic ‘Modern Family,’” wrote After Ellen editor Michael Jensen, “which is to say, while the writers manage to wring a great many laughs from the topic (and Eric Stonestreet gets to demonstrate what a gifted physical comedian he is), the show never laughs at its characters, and even more impressively, there is real heart at the center of the episode.” Secondly, will it meet the expectations of whose who’ve asked for a kiss? Jensen says yes.

And finally, the question no one wants to ask but some still wonder about, will it be a turn-on or turn-off to the show’s mainstream fans?

No, of course not.

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Television is long past the shock of same sex kissing – in 1992, ‘L.A. Law’s bisexual attorney C.J. Lamb tentatively locked lips with her colleague, two years later Roseanne and Mariel Hemingway smooched, and the so-called first lesbian kiss was on the 1997 series ‘Relativity,’ and a You Tube clip of ‘As The World Turn’s first gay kiss in 2007 has more than 2 million views – but there has been a push for ‘Modern Family’s gay couple to kiss. There were even complaints that the show’s other couples were able to display their love, but Mitchell and Cam were purposely toned down.

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“Oh, that’s so stupid,” the show’s star Ed O’Neill told Entertainment Weekly last June. “Who cares?” He added, “They’re the most conservative family of the three.”

They are also the most adorable. Executive producer Steve Levitan acknowledged they have long-planned a kiss, but on their own schedule, and actor Eric Stonestreet, who won an Emmy for playing Cam, recently told EW: “It’s nice that people care so much, but it kind of bums me out in that now it looks like we’re doing something because somebody begged us to or pressured us to. The [writers] wanted to tell a good story and not just make a moment out of it. It should just be normal, natural, and sweet, and done in a really great way, which is how they’re doing it.”

So tonight’s the night. Watch the preview. Then tune into the show at 9 p.m. on ABC. Do you think this was a real issue? Do you think the kiss might turn viewers off to America’s most popular new sitcom?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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