Cam and Mitchell were about to get married on “Modern Family” when firefighters ordered them to flee the idyllic, bucolic setting due to rapidly approaching wildfires. “We’ve waited 10 years,” said an exasperated Cam. “Can’t we have an hour?”
Turns out all they needed was half that time to deliver one of the funniest, most touching episodes in the five-season run of a show that deftly mixes sentiment and humor with a minimum of treacle.
In addition to blazes, the California couple confronted swarming butterflies, two old-school dads grumbling over the same-sex coupling and a string quartet that got whittled down to a mere cellist over the course of the frantic “Modern Family” season finale.
Everything seemed to go wrong – except for the ending.
With the couple about to call off the ceremony after a comedy of errors unraveled three tries at tying the knot, Mitchell’s dad Jay put aside his discomfort to move the wedding to his men’s club. He proudly walked his son down the aisle as Cam’s father followed suit.
“The winds have shifted!” Cam and Mitchell’s wedding coordinator pal Pepper declared.
He meant the wildfires, but he could have been talking about changing times – on TV and in real life. The episode aired on ABC hours after a new Gallup poll put national support for same-sex marriage at a record-high 55 percent
Still, Wednesday’s “Modern Family” installment likely will be remembered more for the laughter and tears spurred by the nuptials of a loving couple on a top sitcom than for the same-sex wedding TV milestone.
Cam and Mitchell outlasted the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, and outran the wildfires and an almost biblical series of mini-plagues to put a legal stamp on their love, with help from their extended family of fellow eccentrics. The two dads will return next season as an officially married couple, even if they were already in it together until death (or ratings) do them part.
It was Cam and Mitchell's wedding, but “Modern Family” fans got the gift: an old-fashioned screwball romantic comedy of an episode from a show that lived up to its name like never before.
Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.
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