ABC’s “Modern Family” Includes (Fake) Gay Illini

ABC’s Modern Family is supposed to be funny (we haven’t seen it, because we’re bad at keeping up with any non-sports television - it’s a personality flaw), which is a welcome respite from the lineup of forgettable, canned-laughter-fest sitcoms that usually get trotted out every year by the networks. Brothers, we’re looking straight at you here.

Cameron and Mitchell Modern Family Gay Illini

One of the aspects of the family is that there’s a gay couple involved, since it’s the 21st century and it’s okay to say the “G” word on TV. The “G” word is “gay,” by the way. Not “grundle.” You still can’t say “grundle” on television. We digress. And as it turns out, this week’s episode let it slip that one of the gay characters, Cameron, was a member of the Illinois football team. Illini fans, we’re sure, are thrilled.


In Wednesday’s episode called “Coal Digger” (8 p.m., WICD), Cameron comes out of the football closet.

“It’s revealed that Cameron played some college football and he played at the University of Illinois,” [actor Eric] Stonestreet said.

In the show, Stonestreet’s character wears a No. 7 Illinois jersey and orange and blue face paint.

“It’s funny because only an Illinois fan would know that that No. 7 jersey is clearly an Illinois jersey,” Stonestreet said. “Everybody else thinks it’s an Elway jersey.”

While this is a visibly absurd notion - Stonestreet, at the far right, doesn’t look like he’s ever picked up a dumbbell, much less ever played football at a major university - the stipulations that he be an Illini fan are a little strange. To wit:

Why Illinois for Cameron? There were restrictions on what kind of footage was needed for the episode. And Illinois worked the best.

“They needed a night game that was five years ago and against Ohio State,” Stonestreet said.

Okay, one problem: five years ago, Illinois didn’t play Ohio State; the Buckeyes were off the Illini’s schedule in 2003 and 2004. If they’re counting 2005 as five years ago, Illinois did play the Buckeyes… but it was an afternoon kickoff at 2:30. But now we’re just being sticklers and missing the point.

Putting an openly gay man in a specific team’s locker room is always a dicey proposition. As mentioned at SbB earlier, football and homophobia aren’t exactly strangers, though the problem goes a lot farther than just the gridiron.

That said, of course, it’s all fictional, and it’s also worth pointing out that five years ago, nobody was wearing the #7 jersey for Illinois; that’s probably not an accident.

It’s probably not that big a deal, though. After all, the episode apparently aired yesterday, and up until now we hadn’t heard a word about Illinois football being linked with gay people. Other than Tony Eason, of course, because he is fuh-lay-ming*.

*No he is not.