Fans rejoiced when Fulgencio Joseph arrived to the Pritchett-Delgado household earlier this month on ABC’s hit show “Modern Family” -- but the celebration was cut short when critics started calling last week’s episode of the newborn’s christening “boderline rude” with a plot that was “perpetuating some rather ignorant” stereotypes of Latinos.
Sofia Vergara’s Gloria Delgado has been criticized in the past for stereotyping Latinas with her sexy but ditzy persona on the show. Yet this time it was the arrival of her mother Pilar (Elizabeth Peña) and sister Sonia (Stephanie Beatriz) from Colombia, and the stereotypes they brought with them, that sparked criticism.
As Paste’s Dalene Rovenstine noted on the entertainment and pop-culture news site, the “Fulgencio” episode may have crossed the line in their portrayal of Gloria’s relatives and her home country.
In most episodes, Gloria’s typical Colombian, I-lived-in-a-village jokes are tolerable because they’re few and far between. A whole episode of it from three women was not tolerable or funny in the slightest. Example: her sister asks where the garden is and wants to wash her clothes in the river—just because the woman is from a developing country does not mean she’s an idiot.
Aside from the washing laundry in a river and “harvesting” corn from the garden bits (Check Out These Scenes Above), the Latino Rebels blog also pointed out Gloria’s “village” chat with Sonia in the closet and the scene in which Pilar unpacks a handgun and waves it threateningly in front of Jay as she confesses she’s never liked him.
Catching the episode reminded us that even though the show’s creative staff THINKS it is poking fun at the absurdity of Colombian stereotypes, they are just PERPETUATING some rather ignorant and musty portrayals that, quite frankly, do nothing to improve how the mainstream views U.S. Latinos. We have few chances to see more nuanced and deeper portrayals of Latino characters on TV, that when we see such blatant stereotypes appear in one of the country’s most popular shows and when we don’t have other shows on TV that don’t balance out “Modern Family’s” sins, then we think it is just another example of bad TV by another clueless American network.
The cast and Vergara have won numerous accolades for their work on the sitcom, including a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series on Sunday. Last week the show came out on top as the No. 1 scripted program on television according to a Nielsen Company press release.
Despite its popularity in ratings, critics insist the latest episode of the hit show missed the mark when it came to its usual mocking of stereotypes via exaggerated clichés of what it’s like to be a “modern family” in this day and age.
“Sadly, there wasn’t much humour coming from Gloria’s family. It was all a little stereotypical and borderline rude. Sonia asking where the garden is to wash her clothes in the river was just ridiculous,” Steven Taylor wrote for the online entertainment news site Hypable.
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