Modern Family was on the air for 11 seasons, so there was plenty of time for characters to be asshats to each other. In fact, there's so much rampant asshattery, that to narrow down Modern Family's place in our "Who is the actual worst?" series,(Or, in the case of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, "Who is the actual best?" Or, in the case of The Umbrella Academy, "Who is the most tragic?" Or, in the case of The Fairly OddParents "Who is the saddest?") we had to narrow it down a bit. Today we're examining which couple is the shittiest to each other, and while none of these onscreen couples approach the disaster levels of say, a Charizard and a Pokemon made entirely out of gasoline and C4, they're pretty damn destructive in some not too modern ways.
The Case For Gloria And Jay:
If you could only go by preconceived notions and had never seen Modern Family before, you might presume Gloria and Jay to have the most toxic relationship. He's an old dude with a lot of money, and she's a young, beautiful woman from a poor background. This seems like a marriage not really made in heaven so much as it as made on Craigslist's shadier sections. While the show takes pains to inform us that Gloria and Jay's disfunction has nothing to do with their 20-plus year age gap, they seem to be about as interested in one another as, I don't know, two people typically would be with a 20-plus year age gap.
We can start with Jay, who is utterly disdainful of every aspect of Gloria that doesn't fit his way of life. For example, he continually mocks Gloria for mispronouncing English words, yet never acknowledges that he hasn't bothered to learn for her a lick of Spanish (his wife's native tongue). In one episode, it is revealed that Jay has signed up for Spanish lessons, but this is immediately forgotten, and we never see Jay attempt to speak Spanish to Gloria ever again. Jay also gets jealous when Gloria starts up a small business selling salsa and rips up a cardboard cutout of her that she is using to promote her business. Then, of course, there was the time he would hideaway at a hotel just to avoid dealing with Gloria while she was pregnant.
Jay's lack of effort makes Homer Simpson look like a dotting husband. (A SIMPson if you will.) But for the few times that Jay does try, Gloria makes sure to make him regret it. She loses Jay's dog. She breaks a clay bunny that he made her as an anniversary present, thinking it was a jewelry container. She shoots him in the foot with a BB gun to cover up an elaborate lie that is too sitcom-y to even comprehend. (And it's not the first time on both counts.)
Gloria even keeps a "getaway bag" with 40,000 dollars stashed away in the attic just in case she ever has to dip out. Thankfully, she's never had to because ... trust?
The Case For Phil And Claire:
Phil and Claire embody the fairly standard tropes of the classic American sitcom family. Phil is the dumb, lovable, oaf of a husband. Claire is the uptight, shrew of a wife. They fight, shenanigans happen, they laugh, they make-up, and the cycle continues forever. We've seen it a million times before, but that still doesn't make it any less shocking when you sit down and examine the bevy of shit and lies that these two regularly sling at each like marital Beyblades.
Phil's cheerful demeanor hides the fact that he's kind of a shitty husband. In one outrageously contrived sitcom scenario (this show makes the capers of I Love Lucy look realistic), Claire is trapped in a bathroom after an earthquake, and rather than free her, Phil goes about strapping a bookcase to the wall because he lied about it earlier. Their relationship is based on so much fear and mistrust that Phil would rather keep his wife trapped in a bathroom to not deal with any nagging. In fact, they seem to get along best when they're role-playing as other people.
There are plenty more examples like this. Phil doesn't tell Claire about a sports car that he buys. He lies to her about a new female client because he's afraid Claire might get jealous. He lies to her about his work hours just to sneak off to another house to play video games. But Claire is just as duplicitous, if not worse. She's also lied to have alone time, even calling Phil's dad to have him invite Phil to Florida so that she could have an entire week for herself.
But perhaps Claire's worst trait is how controlling she can be, and there is no instance more emblematic of this than the "Awesomeland" incident. See, while Claire normally decorates the house for Halloween, she couldn't one year due to work. So Phil decides to make the house awesome instead of spooky and dubs it "Awesomeland." Claire can't stand for this, possibly because happiness runs counter to the sitcom shrill wife coda or maybe because she's truly unhinged. So Claire leaves work and secretly tears down her husband's efforts so she can create a spooky home once again. But really, if she wanted to scare people, she should have just stapled their couples therapy bill to the front door and been done with it.
The Case For Cam And Mitchell:
We've found our winners, folks. For as awful as these other pairings were, neither of them hold a melted candle (or any other drained of romantic significance) to Cam and Mitchell. Hardly an episode goes by without these two sniping at each other for petty jealousies or even pettier grievances.
So we won't even go into those. We'll just talk about the bigger stuff like how Cam frequently allows guests to stay with them for prolonged periods without running it by Mitch. We're not talking about a relative or a best friend here either. We're talking about one of his football players, or some squatters staying in the upstairs attic. Cam's lack of boundaries extends to their daughter as well. Cam gets Lily a role in a commercial (as if child-stardom weren't bad enough) that Mitchell felt tokenized Lily's race. Mitchell told Cam he didn't want Lily in the commercial, so Cam goes behind Mitchell's back and puts her in one anyway.
But maybe that's all deserved because Mitchell did what I think is the single worst thing on this list. Instead of making Lily's name on the adoption papers "Lily Tucker-Pritchett," he removed the hyphen and had Lily's middle name be "Tucker." He did so because he worried that things between himself and Cam might not work out, and if Cam ever were to leave, then Lily would still have the same last name.
Imagine having such little faith in your marriage that you would try to change your daughter's last name without your husband noticing. It's just one of the many toxic aspects of the Pritchett-Tucker relationship, but it's so horrible that I think it's all we need to declare our "winners."
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Top Image: ABC