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Jesse Tyler Ferguson responds to Tuc Watkins’ comments about Cam and Mitch on “Modern Family”

Yesterday, I did a post about what actor Tuc Watkins (Desperate Housewives, One Life to Live) had to say about the characters of Cam and Mitch on Modern Family.

Tuc wrote on Facebook that while he finds the show ‘clever, hilarious, even terrifically subtle,’ he also has ‘a hard time laughing at the gay guys. In fact, I kinda cringe. It feels a little bit like the gay equivalent of “blackface.” It doesn’t feel “modern” at all. Sure, people come in all shapes, sizes, etc. So why are we fed such 80s stereotypes every week?’

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, a five-time Emmy nominee for the role, posted a response to Tuc’s comments this evening. Here it is in its entirety:

Sorry you feel that way Tuc. I know lots of guys who are just like Cam and lots of guys who are just like Mitch. We can’t be expected to represent every gay person. We can only represent these two people. Also, Mitch is basically a version of me…so I never know how to take it when people say that he is stereotypical. And in defense of Cam, I still can’t figure out how a clown & football coach who also happens to be gay is a stereotype. When all is said and done, it’s a family sitcom. I feel our writers do a fantastic job of servicing 11 characters each week in just 22 minutes. I am incredibly proud to play Mitch and I have a lot of pride in our show. As a closeted kid of the 80′s I would have loved to have had a show like Modern Family to watch with my parents. It would have meant a lot to me to see who I secretly was reflected on television. TV has come a long way and it continues to forge new ground. I am thrilled with the work that you did on Desperate Housewives. It opened
the door for shows like ours and hopefully we can hold that door open for many more shows to follow us. At the end of the day we can’t please everyone..and we shouldn’t try to. Kinda just like life, right? Take care. Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

FILE UNDER: Controversy, Television


(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

16 Remarks

  1. 12/19/14 8:01am

    ” I understand what Bob is saying. That no one is spared the skewer. I sure wish that skewer grazed my funnybone a little more often when it came to the gay guys.

    I’m sure I scrutinize their characters more than the others. Maybe I can’t see the forest for the trees.

    But there’s probably a kid stuffed into a high school locker answering to that stereotype who doesn’t think it’s very funny either.

    The writers on that show are some of the funniest writers on television today. Why spend their time promulgating stereotypes that polarize us?

    Maybe a little heavy-handed. But if Cameron swings his hands about much more is the only reaction I’m afforded as a gay man is “to go RuPaul all over his ass?” (insert snap)


  2. I agree with Tuc regarding the Cam character. He is played as a straight up gay stereotype. I also cringe at him more often than I laugh.

  3. Yeah, Team Tuc on this

  4. I love Jesse Tyler Ferguson. He is pure class.

  5. The character of Cam recalls Butterly McQueen’s Prissy in “GWTW.” Totally cringe worthy, IMO. All of the adult characters on “MF” are exagerated for comic effect but none to the extent of Cam’s character. The following actors have all given great portrayals of gay men on television that were not cringe worthy: Tuc Watkins, Christopher Sieber, John Benjamin Hickey, Dan Bucantinsky. Luke Macfarlane, Derek Jacobi, Ian Mckellan, Russell Tovey, Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Darryl Stephens,Van Hansis and Conrad Ricamora, amongst others. Their characters represent many different types of gay men.Then again they’re gay unlike the actor who portrays Cam, so perhaps its a question of sensitivity to the community and the discrimination that we continue to fight, something which the writers, directors, producers and said actor obviously haven’t concerned themselves with. I don’t think that Mr. Watkins’ comments are that far afield re: Cam. I like the character of Mitch and I wish JTF continued success. I would suggest, however, that his comment “Mitch is basically a version of me…” is a bit ingenuous since his husband is a handsome, articulate, well educated, successful, etc., man, not a buffoon like Cam. Best, JeffR

  6. Good for you JTF. I love the Cam character. It doesn’t matter to me if gay characters are butch, flaming queens, promiscuous, saintly, hetero imitative, “normal” or whatever. It’s a comedy. I think Mitch and Cam are great together. There’s a simple solution if people don’t like what they’re watching. Just switch the channel or turn it off.

  7. I have to agree with Tuc. The degree of inane comedy and stereotyping is wat too extreme for me.

  8. Right, because DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES definitely didn’t stereotype women. Just for starters.

  9. It’s Cam who is the stereotype Jessie.

  10. Jessie, you are a class act. There are so many other things you could have said. I’m on your side 100%

  11. Well put, JTF. No one character on TV should have to represent an entire community. The more different types the merrier. Showing range ideally diminishes the need to pigeon-hole folks into singular stereotypes. I don’t know Tuc Watkins’ situation and I’m not saying he’s insinuating this, but this reminds me of the ol’ “gay is fine as long as it’s masculine” song that you sadly but too often hear in the community. Folks, y’all, be you. If you’re a butch woodsman, be it and be proud. If you’re a unicorn, be a unicorn. And let unicorns be unicorns. Don’t condemn it for not being a butch woodsman because it makes you uncomfortable. The unicorn ain’t hurting you. Maybe you were teased for being a unicorn in your youth and you’ve got some sensitivity issues around it, but that’s on you, boo. That’s on you.
    Wait, what were we talking about?

  12. A character doesn’t have to represent an entire community. But why does this character have to represent the most stereotypical portrayal that Hollywood certainly has enough of on screen?

  13. I have to agree with Tuc. I love “Modern Family”. As a Gay man in a 20 year relationship with four children Cam’s character DOES makes me cringe. I actually have quit watching the show because of it. Mitchell’s character is very average, but Cam’s is a complete stereotype. Not all Gay guys, not even most Gay guys act like that. Each character on the show has their out-there moments, Cam’s EVERY moment is out there and it’s just a bit too much. Very, very reminiscent of “black face” comedy.

  14. This is a personal issue for every gay man and women. As we know there are many different types of gays and different paths to how we got to where we are. I agree 100% with Tuc. The Cam and Mitch roles are ones that exist but ones that we have seen over and over again. Plus every one of their friends seem to be bigger stereotypes than they are. There have been major changes in gay culture since Will and Grace and those changes should be reflected more accurately on TV – it is time that we saw different types of gay men and women. It is terrific that Modern Family can show a married gay couple with a kid and I understand that sitcoms are not reality but I would love to see a gay character that more accurately reflects my friends and the married couples with kids that I know.

  15. It’s always a conflict among gays, the masculine guys don’t embrace the feminine ones, they act embarrassed of them. Which unfortunate, there are lots of wonderful feminine guys.

  16. I look forward to the day when Cam and Mitch aren’t seen for their sexuality, but for the beautifully bumbling, over-protective though comically careless parents they are, whose foibles and failures we can all recognize within ourselves. Thanks to Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson for their fearless portrayals. You are nailing it as actors; only the truth can hit so many different nerves!

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