With Father’s Day around the corner, it’s only appropriate to examine the fathers on the sitcom Modern Family. At the intersection of Helicopter Parent and Absentee Parent lies a fork in the road: the father. Modern TV sitcoms often pigeonhole the father-figure, or figures, closer to absentee. Their children often lament about their dad always being away, whether it’s due to work or walking out. Yet, even when the father is present and in the home, he is often in his den, working. Daughters and sons alike grow up not really knowing their father. Although it’s a cliché, in the case of Modern Familylife can imitate art, but more often than not it does not.
The cross-examination of the family, or the family unit, is vital to any television show. Across the entertainment-scape, the ideation of family being more than the nuclear family model has become commonplace. What makes Modern Family stand out is the utter destruction of the family model with a tiger mother and the absentee father. The mothers on the show were multidimensional tiger moms, and the fathers on the show were an array of the aforementioned intersection and proverbial fork. Each dad has their strengths and weaknesses, completely rewriting the script for how the father figure can be depicted on TV. Here are the best dads in Modern Familyranked.
7 Javier Delgado
Portrayed by Benjamin Bratt, Javier Delgado is Manny’s biological but emotionally estranged father. As a father, he loves Manny, but often breaks promises or brings Manny along on inappropriate adventures. When Javier does not follow through with Manny, Jay typically picks up the pieces. Even with the various betrayals, Manny still believes his father’s promises of fun and adventure. Yet, as Manny grows older, he becomes more confident in his relationship with his step-dad, knowing his mom has her reasons for protecting him. Until Manny goes to college to become a playwright. While his family is supportive of his “art”, Gloria reaches her breaking point. At Manny’s one-man show, Gloria approaches Javier and tells him to take Manny on an adventure to meet criminals and get thrown out of bars because Manny needs to experience real life in order to create real art.
6 Dylan Marshall
Haley’s first boyfriend was not a favorite of Claire’s. Dylan is a himbo who comes back into Haley’s life either after one of her breakups or, in one case, in the middle of a serious relationship. Dylan, despite his air-headedness, is a father twice: first to his step-children from a previous marriage and then to Haley’s twins. While Dylan is a great boyfriend-turned-husband to Haley, there are not too many instances when he is seen being a full-time father. His journey in fatherhood mimics Phil’s in that, at a young age, he has a surprise pregnancy, for which he quickly takes action to provide for the mother of his children. The primary focus on Dylan as a father is that of a financial provider for his family with Haley. Audiences see Dylan help with the care of the twins, but other than that, it’s hard to determine how he actually is as a father.
5 Frank Dunphy
Possibly the punniest dad on the list, Frank Dunphy (portrayed by the late Fred Willard) is the epitome of the fun dad. He loves a good prank, his RV, and, of course, his son Phil. Even though he has a great relationship with his son, he has trouble being vulnerable. On an RV trip where Frank is dropping off a dog for Phil, Claire notices that Frank is sad and traveling without his wife, whom he typically spends every moment with. She encourages Phil to talk to his dad. This conversation sparks a major shift in Frank and Phil’s relationship; they become closer, but only due to Claire insisting that Phil confront his father about traveling across the country alone. By both father and son being vulnerable with each other, the door is flung wide open for Frank to start dating after his wife passes. When he remarries, Phil is the one to make his father’s second wedding the Frank-est wedding of all: full of pranks, gags, and love. If not for Claire or Phil, Frank possibly would have remained closed off, hiding behind his infectious humor.
4 Mitchell Pritchett
The dad with the most father-related issues, Mitchell is a loving husband, but a somewhat absent father to his adopted daughter Lily. He spends much of his time working, like his father did, and even when Lily or his partner, Cameron, are wanting him around, he is often busy worrying about the next moment. As Lily grows older, he is often the first to comment on her behaviors as something that has to be changed. Yet, with Cameron by his side, he comes back down to earth and remembers how much he loves this little girl, no matter how sassy she is towards others. Mitchell may have a difficult relationship with his father, but he is the first to call out any anti-gay or anti-feminist remarks from his family, especially his dad. He is able to mend the fence with his father, coming to accept his father for his limitations. Mitchell is also the first to initiate wanting another baby. In their second attempt to adopt a baby, the mother decides to keep the baby at the last minute. As heartbroken as Cameron is, he is ready to try again, but when Mitchell announces he is done, he puts more into the child he and Cameron already share.
3 Jay Pritchett
According to ColliderEd O’Neill, who portrays Jay Pritchett on Modern Family, knew the show would be a hit from the moment he read the script. Jay is the patriarch of his family, and while he is reluctant to try new things, he becomes a better father to all of his children. Being in his second marriage, Jay is also given a second chance with his children from his first marriage. With Mitchell, he forced an image of a manly man who plays sports, pushing Mitchell away rather than embracing him. Claire, on the other hand, simply wants her dad’s stamp of approval, especially regarding Phil. As he picks up the pieces of Manny’s failing father, he becomes a better father to Claire and Mitchell. In this clip from The Paley Center for Media, Sofia Vergara, who plays Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, talks about working alongside Ed O’Neill, saying that he helps her with jokes and pronunciations, something Jay does for Gloria. Despite his tough guy exterior, he often follows the lead of Gloria and Claire, truly relying on them to be a more accepting and kind father.
2 Cameron Tucker
A simple farm boy from Missouri, Cameron Tucker is close to being the perfect father to his adopted daughter Lily and his nephew, Cal. Cameron is over the top in every way, often being dramatic enough for his entire family. After he and Mitchell adopt Lily, they surprise Mitchell’s family. Cam is quite the dedicated father, even if he does photo shoots with her as pop icons or tries to force her to follow in his clown shoe-sized footsteps. Cam has several moments of being one of the best dads. First, when he and Mitch have financial trouble, he sacrifices staying at home with Lily, which he has the hardest time doing. He is incredibly supportive of Lily, sometimes even too supportive to Mitchell’s dismay. Finally, when his sister Pameron has to serve time, Cameron takes in her son from her ex-boyfriend, and raises Cal as his own. This overly dramatic farm boy turned clown is one of the top contenders for ultimate dad because he does what’s best for his daughter and nephew, no matter the inconvenience to himself or his life.
1 Phil Dunphy
The ultimate dad, Phil Dunphy is also the best realtor, husband, and Phil-osopher. An extremely devoted family man, Phil sets out to make every family gathering special. Whether he is supporting Haley in her career journey, Alex as she navigates the science world, or Luke being, well, Luke, Phil is extremely supportive of each of his children. In this clip from Peacock, some of Phil’s best advice, like “peerenting”, are compiled. Even though Phil is the ultimate dad, he is far from perfect. Often, he is wrapped up in being the “cool” dad, leaving his family embarrassed by his well-intentioned actions, though these well-intentioned actions end up being a reflection of his best trait as a father: unconditional love. When Haley goes away to college, he writes a book called Phil’sosophies, full of wisdom. One of his best Phil’sosophy is: “When life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Life will be all like, ‘WHAT ?!’ ”Throughout the series, Phil may not always land as the cool dad, but he does land as the best dad with the best of intentions.