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Modern Family Storylines That Fans Hated

Modern Family is beloved for its ensemble of endearing characters who span multiple generations and a variety of different family structures. The series bridges these divides with grace, despite the fact that the characters themselves are often anything but graceful. Yet Modern Family makes the portrayal of step-families, families with same-sex parents, and the traditional nuclear family look easy. Modern Family's nuance extends to many tried-and-true television tropes as well. The goofy dad and the trophy wife might be a tired cliche, but Phil and Gloria, the respective incarnations of these roles, enjoy substantial character development that deepens over time.

For all this inventiveness and charm, however, the series is far from perfect. Certain storylines in particular have become widely hated among Modern Family fans. Sometimes the storytelling in question is seen as inconsistent with the characters' journeys. Sometimes it's just considered to be in bad taste. Whatever the reason, these are the storylines Modern Family fans absolutely hated.

Andy and Haley not ending up together

Andy garnered quite a bit of fans' affection for his good heart and devotion to Haley. Unsurprisingly, many found themselves upset with what they see as his unceremonious exit from the show. Even Claire Dunphy states that she's "kicking herself" for the role she may have played in the downfall of Andy and Haley's relationship.

There is also some confusion among fans as to the drastic changes in Andy's weight, and the lack of any real explanation for it. The weight gain, potentially, can be explained: Anyone who has experienced heartbreak knows that recovery can involve copious amounts of Ben and Jerry's and not much else. Still, it seems unfair to put lovable Andy through that much turmoil for shock value in the season four premiere — especially since he sheds the pounds a few months later with no mention of how he got over his heartbreak. He is owed his emotional triumph, if nothing else!

Haley and Dylan's pairing

Many fans felt that ditching Andy is a character regression for Haley, both in terms of closing the door on their future and because she chooses Dylan Marshall as her partner. This ire isn't entirely on Andy's behalf — sure, Dylan beats out Andy for Haley's affection over him, but Dylan was an unpopular choice in general, even when compared to Haley's many other flames.

Dylan, especially in the beginning of the show, represents the immature, unstable side of Haley's personality. He feeds into this with a total disregard for the consequences of his actions and the volatility of their on-again, off-again relationship. No matter how much he might mature, many fans feel that he is not the healthiest choice for Haley, who deserves a partner who brings out the best in her. Some viewers feel that even Arvin would be a better choice than Dylan. Both Arvin and Andy represent opportunities for Haley to choose a partner who broadens her mind and heart, but she passes over both of them to settle on (settle for) Dylan. Yuck.

Michael's unexplored sexuality

It's not that fans didn't like Michael's storyline — it's that the writers seemed to pass up the opportunity for another storyline altogether. There could have been so much more done with this character, especially in terms of exploring sexuality outside the main same-sex couple on the show. Instead of thoughtful exploration, however, Michael's story teases character development, then ultimately leaves a loose end.

While Modern Family does a great job developing the roles of its main cast and a large portion of its recurring characters, the show is not immune to the pitfalls of using characters as plot devices. For those who are truly invested in the show, it can seem like a betrayal of authenticity to gloss over the fact that, within the universe of Modern Family, each character is a real person, rather than a foil to one of the main characters. Sure, people come in and out of our lives all the time, their journeys glimpsed briefly. But Michael's emotional reaction to being asked about his sexuality seriously begs for more airtime. Clearly it's an important issue to him, whether he knows it or not. It should have been more important to the writers.

Alex and Sanjay

Many fans were displeased by Alex and Sanjay's competitive relationship. He ends up cheating on her over the course of their long-distance relationship, after all — but even before that, many were skeptical of their bond. They say that love and hate are extremely close emotions, but what lies between these two blends that line a little too much. Sure, Modern Family has proven its ability to take familiar storylines and reinvent them in unique and forward-thinking ways. And yeah, we've seen the flame of competition become the flame of passion before, whether on TV or in real life. Kindling romance with the tension of competition is an enticing storytelling prospect to be sure. But it can also border on unhealthy, and even cruel — and that might just describe this pair.

Sanjay ends up cheating on Alex and slowly distancing himself from her before eventually confessing to his misdeeds. Though the heated relationship and its ultimate demise teaches everyone an important lesson about confusing passion for a deep and lasting love, the lesson isn't worth a bordering-on-hateful relationship that most fans did not enjoy watching.

Hating on Sherry

Speaking of love and hate, it's hard to tell if Sherry is meant to be one of those characters fans "love to hate," or if she's supposed to be simply and succinctly hated. According to Manny, she is so unbearable that straight-up hate seems to be the only real option. To be fair, this can be a delicate line to walk, and it's complicated by the fact that we can't tell if we hate Sherry because she's actually annoying, or if it's because Manny complains about her so much that we've just internalized it.

On that note, it's easy to associate her with Manny becoming more and more unbearable himself over the course of the show. Sherry can be controlling in a way that unpleasantly echoes Manny's mother. She is a thorn in Jay's side as well, especially when she continues to stay at his home after Manny returns to his college dorm. But her biggest crime might be bringing out the worst in Manny. Does that make her or Manny worse? The jury is out.

Reuben's creepiness

Alex and Reuben's relationship is just painful to watch for many fans. Alex goes through a lot over the course of the show. Much of her character development is owed to relationships, both good and bad, that see her come into her own as more than just the "nerdy one" in the family. But like her relationship with Sanjay, Alex's pairing with Reuben does very little for her — and might even take away from her character and fans' enjoyment of her story.

It's not necessarily fair to compare her romantic storylines to Haley's. After all, for better or for worse, it often seems like romance is Haley's storyline. Romantic plots are important aspects of any character's coming-of-age experiences in a long-running series like Modern Family, but they don't form the through-line of Alex's character. Still, we sometimes wish the writers had created more viable options for her, rather than someone that even she is embarrassed to be seen with ... and who makes her brother help him kiss her. Ew.

Luke's lack of real character development

This is another case of a storyline fans wanted more from. As one progresses through the seasons of the series, it begins to feel more and more like the producers don't really know what to do with Luke's character. He begins as comic relief, and then just sort of ... stalls. Other characters' storylines affect him, like the drama that occurs when he is tasked with getting Manny and Sherry back together (but, whoops, he ends up kissing her) — but those aren't his stories. He's just a piece in someone else's game.

Moreover, Luke's character traits aren't as endearing as they're intended to be. It's clear that many of them are meant to be handed down from Phil, but there seems to be less ingenuity involved in crafting Luke's "lovable dummy" persona. After many seasons, the delivery of his comedic lines, without the driving force of character behind them, begins to fall flat and verge on annoying.

Joe Pritchett, the kid no one wants to know

The lackluster presence of little Joe Pritchett on the show is not his fault — he's just a kid, after all. But fans felt that the personality he's given is annoying at best, and could absolutely have been written better. Since the writers did make the choice to add him to the ensemble, the least they could have done was give us more to love about him, right? Accomplishing this isn't usually a difficult thing to do when a child is added to the cast. Sure, there are the Terrible Twos and Fearsome Fours to worry about, but really, these things can be portrayed with a more amenable ratio of frustration-to-cuteness. Not the case with Joe, though. The presumable chicken assault and fascination with theft are a bit concerning as well ... though admittedly more interesting than anything else about him.

Mitchell having to come out to Jay again and again

Admittedly, the relationship between Jay and Mitch grows over the course of the series, both in terms of the more well-known difficulties of navigating a father-son relationship and the added dimension of reconciling Jay's traditional mindset with Mitch's life as a gay man. But this takes a painfully long time for some fans. One especially troubling aspect of the storyline is the fact that Jay not only struggles to accept the reality of Mitchell's sexuality, he seems to not even be able to commit it to memory.

While a fraught relationship with this much history is an impressive thing for any show to construct, this conflict ends up overdone. It can be seen as a running joke for Jay to constantly forget that Mitch is gay, but it also seems relatively unbelievable, given the fact that Mitch literally lives with another man he eventually marries, and has an adopted daughter with him. Jay should get more credit than that, and the emotional struggles of this relationship should be more than just a comedic device.

Phil constantly ogling Gloria

Phil's disturbingly genuine interest in Gloria shows up in more than just a "running gag" way, and what's most bewildering is that everyone is just okay with it. This is not the case for many of the show's fans. Claire is occasionally bothered, but her objections comes across mainly as annoyance. This reaction doesn't seem realistic, and if it is construed as realistic, it represents a marriage with an actual problem that goes unaddressed. That's not "unconventional" in the typically impressive sense of the show's creative depiction of relationships — it's just dysfunctional. Thus, this detail seems more like an oversight on the part of the creators, in service of a really weird and overplayed dynamic that doesn't produce proportional comedic returns. It just ends up feeling weird and icky.

Sure, the infatuation is good for a laugh here and there, but the series is rich with comedic material elsewhere. Whether you love or hate Phil's idiosyncrasies, it's an unnecessary take on the foibles of goofy married men.

Serious illnesses just disappearing

From Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome to prostate cancer, Modern Family invokes serious diseases for an episode or two in service of plot ... and rarely, if ever, mentions them again. Chronic illnesses and serious diagnoses aren't usually something that we can forget about in real life, and the writers do a disservice to fans and characters alike by introducing such major details, then seemingly forgetting about them after 22 minutes. It would be really nice if that were truly the length of illnesses such as prostate cancer, but unfortunately, modern medicine hasn't yet caught up with these particular plot holes in Modern Family.

The disappearance of these diseases also pokes holes (not that there weren't a few already) in the mockumentary premise. We can't be too picky about things like this when it comes to the minutiae of the series' production, but these details are far from minor ... or at least, they shouldn't be.

DeDe's death

DeDe is judgmental and manipulative, so the issue here is not that fans didn't want her gone — it's that the show teased the demise of a beloved character, leaving many concerned that they would soon be mourning Stella, the French Bulldog. It seemed like a cheat when the show killed off DeDe instead, who was never anywhere close to being a fan favorite. Show co-creator Steve Levitan explained his feeling that death is "a giant part of the family experience," and, ever in the pursuit of authenticity, wanted to showcase the entire family grappling with the issue, rather than one or two characters. Thus, the showrunners said fans could expect the death of a significant character. But come on, DeDe? She'd only appeared in eight episodes! They weren't obligated to kill off a main cast member to achieve this, but hey, they were the ones who hyped the death up in the first place. Don't promise pathos you can't deliver on.