One of TV’s most popular couples, “Modern Family’s” Mitch and Cam, finally met at the altar and got married. To celebrate the two-part wedding finale (part one aired last Wednesday), the cast and creators attended a wedding extravaganza on the Fox lot Monday night, complete with cocktail reception, swan ice sculptures and of course — cake.
Much of the cast expressed the pure emotion that surfaced while shooting, but the political aspect of airing a gay wedding on primetime television could not be ignored.
“Years ago shows weren’t allowed to show this kind of stuff on TV,” said Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cam. “It’s a great opportunity to be able to touch people not only with comedy, but be a cultural touchstone for what’s reflective in society now. And there’s nothing more topical than states legalizing and overturning gay bans on marriage.”
“Not only is it just a natural progression that would happen on the show, but it really is progressive for this time right now with gay marriage being legalized in California,” added Sarah Hyland. “I think it’s really beautiful.”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays Mitch and just before he got engaged on the show, he got married to his partner in real life.
When it came to the kiss the groom, Stonestreet asked Ferguson, “How do you kiss someone when you’ve just gotten married?” Ferguson told Variety, “I couldn’t remember what that moment was like so I went back and watched my wedding video, and I was like, ‘OK, that makes sense.’”
Julie Bowen attended Ferguson’s real-life wedding and said it “felt really meaningful because he was marrying a man he loves.” And when it came to the TV wedding, she said, “This felt every bit as meaningful to me because of the emotion. In the story we don’t talk about the politics, you just see these two people, Mitch and Cam, you see them with tears in their eyes and kissing and saying ‘I do.’”
For Bowen, she said after a long day of shooing that her own tears took her by surprise. “But, all I had to do was look at them,” she said.
Other admitted criers included Nolan Gould and Hyland.
“I’m going to start crying right now just thinking about it because he’s [Ferguson] just such a wonderful person and it’s so important to him,” said Hyland. “I just couldn’t stop staring at him.”
Ferguson said he was very emotional on set as well. “It wasn’t like we felt like our show was going through a big important moment and maybe it was, but it felt like Eric and I, personally, were going through a big important moment, and just knowing we were representing these two characters and there were cameras rolling and it was for a TV show we love so much. It definitely didn’t go unnoticed.”
And when it came to finding the right time to write, co-creator Chris Lloyd said once gay marriage became legal in California they took the idea step-by-step.
“Let’s have them talk about should they do this and see where that takes us, see how the family responds, see if there may be stories and arguments over wedding venues or wedding planners and all of those things that, frankly, straight couples go through all the time,” said Lloyd. “But it really came about because it would be glaring to not address it once it became legal.”
Television veteran Ed O’Neill, who used to be known as Al Bundy is now most recognized as Jay Pritchett.
“When I did ‘Married with Children’ we were successful. We ran for 11 years and much of it was funny. But we never got to the point of this show and this is the kind of show that you want,” said O’Neill. “I say once every 20, 30 years a show like ‘Modern Family’ comes along.”
In the finale, O’Neill’s character (father to Mitchell) has his own personal struggles with accepting and understanding his son’s marriage. O’Neill said that hopefully people can relate to this and that it’s thought provoking.
“I think it’s really good for me in many ways to see how it can be experienced,” he said. “It’s not always easy to struggle with those feelings that are old, especially when there’s love involved and lots of people go through this.”
After a screening of the two-part finale the cast including Hyland, O’Neill, Bowen, Ferguson, Stonestreet, Gould, Ty Burrell, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, creator Steven Levitan, executive producer Megan Ganz and writer Abraham Higginbotham all took part in a Q&A.
The second part of the wedding finale airs Wednesday, May 21.