Little did we know that when Steven Levitan said the words “Lily says ‘f–k’” in an ABC comedy showrunners panel at the TCAs, he’d actually set off a controversy. Before last night’s episode of “Modern Family,” featuring a story where Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) four-year-old kid (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) learns that new word, a group of BYU students in something called the No Cussing Club called for the episode to be pulled.
Of course, a four year old saying a bad word is nothing new; kids learn words and see they get a reaction out of adults, so they keep saying it. It happens to pretty much any parent, especially if they’ve slammed their finger in a drawer in their kid’s presence.
That’s what both Stonestreet and Ferguson expressed on Twitter when they heard about the protest, according to the LA Times. “For fornication sake people! Again, how bout actually SEEING what you’re against before u r so STRONGLY against it,” he tweeted. After the episode aired, Stonestreet tweeted, “And now the ‘I feel really stupid for making something out of nothing’ feelings set in for the people who made something out of nothing.”
Ferguson’s reaction to the protests: “After u see tonights episode u will find that the Viagra Ads durring the commercial break r more explicit than anything on r show. #Harmless”
The show treated Lily’s dropping of the f-bomb with the usual light touch, comically bleeping and pixelating her as she said the word (which Levitan told us was really “fudge” when they filmed the scenes), and dealt more with how Cam and Mitch reacted to it than anything else. Cam laughed — kids swearing is one of his weaknesses — and Mitch reacted with his usual uptight need to fix things.
The weirder part of the plot was the fact that Lily was a flower girl at an odd wedding where everyone in the wedding party wore clothes that lit up. Since we didn’t know who these people were, the wedding was more of a prop and backdrop than anything else, an excuse to get the entire family in one place to hear Lily say that bad word.
We were more intrigued by all the ways Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) could sabotage her debate with town councilman Duane Bailey (David Cross) with finger points and eye rolls, but end up being more embarrassed by her husband Phil (Ty Burrell). It’s that uptight-immature combo that’s been one of the more fun parts of the show since it began and last night showed why, including a callback to Phil’s Valentine’s Day mishap from last season.
So if the No Cussing Club sneaked out of their meeting and actually watched the show last night, they would have laughed hard. They may have even cussed. They just wouldn’t be able to tell anyone.
Watch last night’s episode: