Why Nolan Gould’s relatives refused to watch ‘Modern Family’ at first

When “Modern Family” premiered over a decade ago on ABC back in September 2009, representation was nowhere near where it is on TV in 2020, meaning that this hilarious new sitcom featuring a gay couple and their adopted daughter was fairly groundbreaking for broadcast TV.

Nolan Gould, who plays Luke Dunphy on the Emmy-winning show, shared a prime example of how “revolutionary” it was during a recent interview with In The Know’s Gibson Johns, demonstrating just how far we’ve come, not only as far as representation on television is concerned, but also as a society.

“I remember a time when “Modern Family” was so revolutionary that I had family members calling me, being like, ‘I don’t know if I can support this show because there’s two gay guys on it,'” Gould shared with ITK. “And, you know, they were from very conservative households. And suddenly a year later, they were calling me and being like, ‘I just love those Mitch and Cam guys. They’re so funny!'”

While Gould is well aware of the fact that “Modern Family” didn’t single-handedly make people more accepting of the LGBTQ community, he’s sure that it did play a part in that.

“More generally, that happened to a lot of America, not necessarily because of us, but hopefully we had some influence on it,” he said. “By the end, 11 years later, I was seeing tweets by people like, ‘Why is it called “Modern Family?” Do they really think that they’re that progressive?’ There was this weird, backlash against us. Like, ‘They think they’re all that.'”

“Society changed,” Gould added. “And you know, hopefully, we had a part of that, to the point that we kind of became in a way — we didn’t do it — but we set out to do what we wanted to do.”

And what, exactly, did the “Modern Family” cast and crew set out to do throughout its remarkable 11-season run? Encourage American viewers to see a gay couple or an interracial couple or someone different from themselves on television and recognize that they share common ground as humans and as members of a family.

“We were around long enough that it’s not strange to see, you know, two gay guys on television in a happy, loving relationship with their adopted daughter or an age gap in an interracial couple, you know?” Gould said. “And so, I guess to speak of lasting legacy, I would love to be able to show you know, if I ever have kids, I’d love to be able to show them “Modern Family” and be like, I don’t know, like, the world has progressed enough that it’s like, it’s so antiquated, that it’s, you know, absurd.”

“The nice thing about our show is, the setup is, of course, [that] we’re a progressive family. But at the end of the day, we just tell stories about families. We tell stories that are super core to who people are, and what makes us tick, and stories of belonging and loving one another. And those stories I don’t think will ever be antiquated,” Gould shared. “I hope that people will be able to watch our show for all of time, and maybe not connect with the circumstances, necessarily, but connect with the stories that we tell, and learn things from our characters’ mistakes.”

Listen to our full, 20-minute interview with Nolan Gould below, and don’t forget to tune into the “Modern Family” series finale on Wednesday, at 9 p.m. EST only on ABC.

For reference, see below for a timecode breakdown of In The Know’s interview with Nolan Gould:

0:47 – 2:56: Nolan talks about life in quarantine and how upheaval of public life has affected the final promotional push around “Modern Family.”

2:57 – 6:52: Nolan talks about “Modern Family” ending, his reaction to the finale and what viewers can expect from the show’s final moments.

6:53: – 9:35: Nolan talks about the last day on set filming “Modern Family” and the unexpected prop that he stole before heading home.

9:36 – 16:05: Nolan talks about growing up with the character of Luke Dunphy and how they grew to become more similar over the years, as well as becoming like “family” with the rest of his cast.

16:06 – 17:12: Nolan talks about what’s next for him in his career.

17:13 – 21:18: Nolan talks about the lasting impact of “Modern Family” and having relatives who initially didn’t want to watch the show because it had gay characters.

If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s recent interview with Bravo star Ramona Singer here.

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