Why Mitch and Cam Finally Got Engaged on 'Modern Family'
Ever since Modern Family premiered in 2009, viewers have been rooting for the ABC sitcom's gay couple — played by Eric Stonestreet and gay-married Jesse Tyler Ferguson — to tie the knot.
Then, in light of the Supreme Court’s historic rulings in favor of marriage equality, rumors begin to swirl that there'd be a big gay wedding for Mitchell and Cameron when the Emmy-winning comedy returned Sept. 25 for a fifth season. Indeed, the season premiere featured one of the sweetest and funniest marriage proposals in TV history, gay or straight.
Jeffrey Richman, one of the show's two openly gay writer-producers, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about penning the landmark episode.
"We hadn't really talked about Mitch and Cam getting married until DOMA and Prop 8 came onto our radar when we got back to work in the middle of May. We don't usually do California-centric stories — and while we don't really identify where the characters live, we knew we weren't going to send them to another state to get married and they weren't going to have a fake commitment ceremony. We'd avoided that for four seasons. Mitch and Cam have been in a relationship for eight years, they already are a family and they have a daughter, so there needed to be a reason for them to get married. This became the 'why now.'"
As for the particulars of a gay marriage proposal, even Jeffrey and Abraham Higginbotham, the gay writers, weren't sure how to pull it off: "Does someone propose or does that make it a gender stereotype? And if it's OK, which one proposes? After a lot of discussion, we came up with this story where we'd have them on two separate tracks to propose to each other," Jeffrey says.
Did the episode make you a little verklempt? You weren't alone. "As I started writing, I became unexpectedly emotional," Jeffrey continues. "I teared up writing it. I teared up hearing it read. And I completely teared up seeing that moment where they both just say "yes" at the exact same time. That was so moving for me. I felt like, 'OK, maybe I got it right because I never cry at weddings.' My boyfriend [actor John Benjamin Hickey] always reads the first draft and he called me in tears after he read this one... I think you don't realize how invested in those characters you are until this huge thing that had been denied to them suddenly is not an obstacle for them. I really hope it's as moving to other people as it is to me."