This episode was an important first for Modern Family. “A Stereotypical Day” featured a transgender child actor and a story line about gender identity. The actor, 8-year-old Jackson Millarker, plays Lily’s friend Tom. The show doesn’t talk about Tom’s background explicitly — all we’re told is that he used to be called Tina. And that’s mostly because it’s no big deal to Lily: He is simply her friend Tom.
Although it’s too bad Millarker doesn’t get more screen time, his character does serve as a conversation-starter for Cam, Mitch, and Lily. Tom comes to their house for a play date, and Cam and Mitch pat themselves on the back for being such accepting parents with such an open-minded daughter. Then they hear Lily call Tom a weirdo. They assume that she is being mean to him because of the way he identifies, so Cam and Mitch to go into parenting crisis mode. Mitch implies that Lily got this sudden bout of intolerance from spending the summer with Cam’s conservative family in Missouri, and Cam gets upset when Mitch calls his family a bunch of hicks.
Mitch and Cam air their concerns to Jay, who teaches them an unexpected lesson. He puts forward the hypothetical situation that Lily might want to become “Lou,” and posits that Mitch and Cam would be accepting, but would still need a minute to adjust. They admit that Jay is right. Among other things, this means Mitch would never get to realize his dream of seeing his daughter in her wedding dress. Jay tells them that that’s exactly how he felt when Mitch came out: He was ultimately accepting, but needed a minute to adjust. But he reminds Cam and Mitch that while he was taking that time to adjust, they accused him of being a bigot. Did Jay teach Cam and Mitch a lesson about acceptance? Why, yes, he did.
Back at home, Cam and Mitch finally confront Lily about calling Tom a weirdo, and it turns out to be a big misunderstanding. When Tom saw the notorious mural in Lily’s room (the Sistine chapel-like one in which Cam and Mitch appear as naked gods posing with baby Lily), he called her dads weirdos. In retaliation, Lily called him a weirdo. While they’re on the topic of the mural though, Lily admits that she hates it. And so, the family paints over it, which Cam can’t get through without crying. But in a sweet moment, they see that Lily memorialized it with a framed picture in her room. Turns out she can be sensitive when she wants to.
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