Modern Family's Stale Ditsy Dad Stereotype

Dumb dads are nothing new.

From The Simpsons (FOX) to Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally, it has become clear that the 1950’s dads, styled after Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best, are long gone. Instead, the foolish father figures have become a TV staple.

Current sitcoms like Modern Family (ABC) carry on this tradition of buffoonery with pride.

Modern Family’s latest episode Wednesday night features the classic “doofus dad” archetype in the character of Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell.) In the latest episode, Phil spots a small helicopter-like contraption floating near the family pool and he immediately identifies its make and model, adding “As you can guess, I’m a droner myself.” Phil’s beautiful, and quite young, mother-in law Gloria (Sofia Vergara) quips: “Yes, you’re droning right now.”

After that, when it is suggested Gloria cover herself since she is lounging in a bathing suit, Phil yelps out a panicked: “No!” In order to keep the attractive woman in her current outfit he attempts to bat the drone out of the sky and, through a series of accidents, he is swiftly de-pants before falling into a pool. Predictably, a joke is made about how the pool must be very cold.

To add insult to injury, the video is then uploaded to YouTube with the caption “Drone 1, Idiot 0” and gets thousands of views. Phil vows to get vengeance, declaring, “That drone just messed with the wrong idiot!”

Poor Phil Dunphy can’t get no respect.

While shows like Modern Family continue to perpetuate the depiction of dads as blundering morons, there is hope for men in media. For example, multiple commercials during the 2015 Super Bowl, such as the Dove Men + Care commercial and the Toyota To Be A Dad commercial, gave rare tribute to the valuable role fathers can have in our society. Not as tired, over-done comic relief. But as strong role models and protectors.

Maybe these companies know something about what the American public wants that the TV networks don’t.