Guess what the six-figure earners are DVRing?Modern Family — by a huge margin.
This is according to New York magazine, which found that adults who make $100,000 or more a year far prefer the ABC show over any other scripted program. In fact, the show is so popular with the financial elite that its viewers also have the highest median income: $83,000. Not exactly 1 per cent territory, but definitely wealthy.
So, what makes Modern Family so popular among rich folks? It would be naive to assume that one single element appeals to the rich — but it helps that all of the characters on the show are well off.
For those who are unfamiliar with the program, here’s a little background: Modern Family is a mockumentary style show following three two-parent households in which all the characters are related to one another either by marriage, partnership or blood. In all three households featured on Modern Family one partner is the designated breadwinner, while the other is a stay-at-home parent — a luxury afforded only by high earners. Themes related to wealth also factor in prominently on show, but never in a particularly controversial way.
The show’s creators think nothing of sending the family on lavish vacations in on occasion — once to a fancy Hawaiian resort and another time to a dude ranch, where they were accompanied by their own full-time tour guide. Characters Cameron and Mitchell fret over getting their daughter into a fancy, exclusive pre-school, while parents Claire and Phil Dunphy barely mention financial planning while discussing college with their teenage daughter. The lone grew-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks character, Gloria Pritchett, is now married to wealthy family patriarch Jay Pritchett. Her story of financial hardship is packaged and tied up in a fancy bow — she may have struggled in the past, but that is rarely mentioned (and when it is, it’s frequently for comedic effect).
Remarkably, Modern Family debuted in 2009, during the height of the financial downturn and has raked in a massive viewership — despite the fact that its characters exist in an oddly recession-free world. On one level, its success a testament to the show’s quality (I do happen to think it’s quite good). But the show has clearly cornered a niche market. Yes, there are aspects to Modern Family that some would deem controversial; it’s tackled homophobia and racism with brilliant results. But if ever there were a show defined by “first-world problems,” Modern Family is it.
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