Openly gay actor Tuc Watkins has gotten Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s attention with his Facebook post ripping on Modern Family’s Cam and Mitch.
Watkins wrote that while he finds the ABC show ‘clever, hilarious, even terrifically subtle,’ he also has ‘a hard time laughing at the gay guys. In fact, I kinda cringe. It feels a little bit like the gay equivalent of “blackface.”’
He added: ‘It doesn’t feel “modern” at all. Sure, people come in all shapes, sizes, etc. So why are we fed such 80s stereotypes every week?’
Ferguson, a five-time Emmy nominee for his role of Mitch, defended his character and that of his TV hubby Cam who is played by two-time Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet.
‘Sorry you feel that way Tuc,’ Ferguson began. ‘I know lots of guys who are just like Cam and lots of guys who are just like Mitch. We can’t be expected to represent every gay person. We can only represent these two people.
Ferguson, who is gay in real life, describes Mitch as ‘basically a version of me…so I never know how to take it when people say that he is stereotypical.’
Of Stonestreet’s Cam he writes: ‘I still can’t figure out how a clown and football coach who also happens to be gay is a stereotype.
‘When all is said and done, it’s a family sitcom. I feel our writers do a fantastic job of servicing 11 characters each week in just 22 minutes. I am incredibly proud to play Mitch and I have a lot of pride in our show.’
Ferguson, married to Justin Mikita since 2013, remembers being a closeted kid in the 1980 who ‘would have loved to have had a show like Modern Family to watch with my parents.
‘It would have meant a lot to me to see who I secretly was reflected on television. TV has come a long way and it continues to forge new ground.’
Watkins (pictured above) spent several years playing one half of a gay couple on ABC’s Modern Family and also played a gay television executive on Showtime’s Beggars and Choosers for two seasons.
Ferguson wrote of Watkins’ work: ‘I am thrilled with the work that you did on Desperate Housewives. It opened the door for shows like ours and hopefully we can hold that door open for many more shows to follow us.
‘At the end of the day we can’t please everyone..and we shouldn’t try to. Kinda just like life, right?’
Responding to Ferguson’s comments, Watkins writes in part: ‘I’m sure I scrutinize their characters more than the others. Maybe I can’t see the forest for the trees.
‘But there’s probably a kid stuffed into a high school locker answering to that stereotype who doesn’t think it’s very funny either.
‘The writers on that show are some of the funniest writers on television today. Why spend their time promulgating stereotypes that polarize us?’