In 2009, the world got its first introduction to the Pritchett-Dunphin-Tucker family on Modern Family. Since then, television viewers have followed the highs and lows and the ins and outs of the family’s lives. We’ve both laughed and cried as we watched them grow and evolve, from dealing with empty nest syndrome to a family member coming out and eventually adopting a child from Vietnam with his partner.
The diversity of the family represents what life is like for most families in modern America, and thanks to that, the show is still going strong, nearly a decade later.
Modern Family also has a serious cache of awards, including many Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, as well as acting Emmys for several of its cast members. It has also won a few Golden Globes, as well as the prestigious Peabody Award. Critics consistently rank it as among the best of what’s on television, and the show continues to make great strides with its audience, too.
But not all is sunshine and roses in the world of Modern Family. The series, like most others, has a dark side: those secrets that are only known behind the scenes.
Here are 15 Secrets Behind Modern Family You Had No Idea About.
15. Ariel Winter’s family issues
Ariel Winter, the actress behind the most intelligent member of the Dunphy family, didn’t always lead such a charmed life. Sure, Winter has success and money now, thanks to the wild popularity of Modern Family, but her personal life was far from golden when she was younger.
Because of reported abuse from her parents, at the age of 17, Winter got a lawyer and went to court to emancipate herself from her mother and father. She stayed with her older sister while there were hearings about her custody, but a court eventually agreed to grant her independence and she’s now happier than ever. Although she remains estranged from her mother, though, she has established a good relationship with her father.
14. Britney Spears was supposed to guest star
In its long run, Modern Family has had a pretty steady stream of big name guest stars, including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Terry Bradshaw, James Van Der Beek, Jesse Eisenberg, Ed Norton, Fred Willard, and Nathan Lane. One guest star the series wanted was Britney Spears, who has actually claimed herself as a huge fan of the series. That guest appearance was supposed to happen way back in season three, and it looked possible considering how Spears had previuosly geeked out over meeting Ed O’Neill.
But once the producers of the show made the offer to her, Spears and her team were too slow in responding and the show had to go on without her. To this day, no one knows what her character or the storyline involving her might have been.
13. Julie Bowen had a bad diet obsession
Claire Dunphy might wear “mom clothes” on the series, but her actress, Julie Bowen is much more obsessed with appearances. Fans have remarked in the past about how thin the actress is, particularly after seeing her on the red carpet at events and hearing her talk about how she doesn’t eat anything days before such an event.
Rumors began surfacing that Bowen suffered from a diet obsession, with an anonymous source from the series talking about how she started eating only one meal a day. Reports then later surfaced that ABC’s producers intervened and tried to get her to eat more because her character needed to bulk up and look more like a soccer mom. Others on set talked about how she constantly exercised on set.
Considering that the actress has a heart condition,if it’s true, it’s probably not a healthy choice.
12. Ariel Winter’s surgey
As the character of Alex hit puberty on the series, the actress did too. That became a problem for Ariel Winter because she began to feel that there was way too much focus on her chest As a teenager, that’s a lot to deal with. She also began to have a lot of back problems and pain. Eventually, she decided to have chest reduction surgery, and was open with the world about the procedure.
“I didn’t want to not tell anybody and then have another million stories [say], ‘What happened to Ariel?,” Winter told Glamour. “She looks so different.’ And I also think there’s some good that can come from [telling] my story. It’s something that I did to better my life and better my health, and I think that can benefit a lot of young girls. I have felt happier with myself than I ever have.”
11. The Hiller Twins hated acting and got replaced
Just like every other sitcom that has featured babies, the role of baby Lily (the child adopted from Vietnam by Cam and Mitchell), was actually portrayed by two twin siblings. That role was first played by Ella and Jaden Hiller, but the role eventually got recast because the twins were so difficult to work with.
It seemed that the twin infants just really didn’t like acting: they became very agitated and upset almost every time they had to be in a scene. Hollywood just wasn’t their thing. They got replaced by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who was a lot more into being Lily for the series.
Anderson-Emmons also got something the Hiller twins never got: actual lines. The Hiller twins are supposedly enjoying their early retirement from showbiz.
10. Julie Bowen has a heart condition and pacemaker
Perhaps most upsetting about reports of Julie Bowen’s dietary fixation is that she also has a heart condition that requires her to wear a pacemaker. In her 20s, she received a diagnosis from her doctor for a condition called hypervagotonia, which means that her heart occasionally beats slower than it should.
Because of that, she has worn a pacemaker for most of her adult life.
Bowen refers to the pacemaker as “a monitor for me” because it helps her heart maintain a steady rate. She admits that she’s become less aware of it over time and that she’s grateful “to live during a time when the technology exists to treat my condition.” Perhaps that’s why she’s always stressing the importance of health and exercise.
9. The cast fought for salary raises
The cast that works together to get salary raises stays together. Or so it seems for the cast of Modern Family. The adult cast of actors bonded together in 2012 to renegotiate their salaries, although they hit quite a few road bumps along the way. Table reads got canceled because the cast boycotted them, but the actors remained firm in their commitment to each other.
They also did not keep their negotiations a secret: every actor on the series were very public about wanting more money from the production, especially considering the show’s success. They eventually reached a deal.
In 2017, the Modern Family child actors bonded together and renegotiated their salaries as well, presumably to the point where each kid would get $70,000 per episode.
8. Sofia Vergara dyes her hair for the show
Here is something that most Modern Family fans don’t know: actress Sofia Vergara is not a natural brunette. Believe it or not, Vergara is actually a blonde, although one might think with her Columbian heritage, that was impossible. But it’s not.
However, on the series, Vergara’s character is brunette, meaning that Vergara has to dye her hair brown for the show. This is because the character is also Columbian, but producers felt that she would look more Latina with darker hair. It seems sort of a cop-out, considering that the show tries to maintain diversity, but it is what it is.
Interestingly enough, the series often alludes to the fact that her character, Gloria, used to work as a stylist at a hair salon.
7. Why the French bulldog got switched out
Who doesn’t love the family pet on TV shows? Naturally, viewers fell in love with the French Bulldog on Modern Family, Stella.
Stella belongs to Jay, but in the middle of the series, something strange happened: Stella seemed to change appearance overnight. As in, she became a completely different dog. She was still a French Bulldog, but she looked totally different.
The series never actually explained this, and went on as if this were the same dog. It turns out that the reason behind this was that the original Stella, a dog named Brigitte, got dropped by its agent and ended up without a job.
Producers replaced Brigitte with a new French Bulldog, Beatrice.
Then they pulled a Darrin from Bewitched and pretended it never happened.
6. Sarah Hyland had a kidney transplant in 2012
Haley Dunphy is the “pretty one” of the Dunphy family, and not always portrayed as the brightest bulb in the lot: she’s constantly teased by her lack of wit and intellect by her younger sister, Alex. Haley’s actress, Sarah Hyland, though is a much more nuanced person and has experienced her share of pain and trauma at an early age.
When she was just 21 years old, Hyland opened up to the world and explained that she had kidney dysplasia. She ended up getting a kidney transplant, with the donated kidney coming from her father.
“You know that family is going to be there for you no matter what,” Hyland said to Seventeen. “My dad gave me a freakin’ kidney! But it’s also the families that you create outside of your family. And you really find out what kind of people you’re friends with.”
5. Craig T. Nelson was almost cast as Jay Pritchett
Ed O’Neill is Jay Pritchett, or at least that’s how most Modern Family fans see it. There is no one else who could have given that role such life. But the truth is that another actor almost took the role.
Producers first considered Craig T. Nelson (of Coach fame) to become the head of the Pritchett household, but Nelson reportedly wanted more money for the role than producers wanted to give him (especially considering that it had such a large cast), so Nelson ended up walking away. This was probably a bad move, considering how successful the series has become.
Instead, producers went to Married With Children’s O’Neill and never looked back – for good reason. O’Neill is the only one who could have ever really portrayed Jay.
4. Nolan Gould, who plays Luke, is a secret genius
Poor little Luke Dunphy. He just isn’t a very bright child. Sure, he’s fun and mischievous and viewers love to laugh at him, but he is also portrayed as about as dim-witted as they come. This is a kid who once got his head stuck in the banister of his house’s staircase, after all. But what’s really interesting is that the actor who portrays him is exactly the opposite.
Nolan Gould is literally a genius, as he graduated high school at the age of 13 and is an actual member of Mensa. His IQ is reported to be 150.
Perhaps this is proof that it takes a really intelligent actor to portray a character that seems to have no intelligence at all – although sometimes the lightbulb does go off above Luke’s head.
3. Sofia Vergara’s ex sued her over her embryos
Sofia Vergara’s personal life is occasionally a troubled one, especially when it comes to her ex. When she was still with her ex-fiancee, Nick Loeb, she conceived two embryos with him, planning for a future for when the two might want to have children as a married couple. But then they broke up and Sofia ended up marrying Joe Manganiello.
Loeb decided that he would sue Vergara for those two embryos.
Vergara plans on fighting back. “Can you blame me?” she asked on the The Howard Stern Radio Show on Sirius FM.
2. Cam and Mitchell’s “adoption” was probably illegal
In the pilot episode, viewers immediately got teared up as Cam and Mitchell, the show’s gay couple, went to Vietnam to adopt a child together. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when they brought little Lily home. But there’s just one serious problem with how Modern Family depicted that adoption: it probably wasn’t legal, at least in terms of real-world law.
When the pilot episode aired, it was not legal for a same-sex couple to adopt a child, and certainly not from a country like Vietnam. This means that the adoption was probably not legal one. However, it’s a small plot point that’s long forgotte. Little Lily has grown up with a happy family life since that first episode.
1. Sarah Hyland’s trouble with Matt Prokop
Growing up on television is hard. Growing up when you’re on television and have a real life beyond that is even harder. In 2014, Sarah Hyland talked about something that happened behind the scenes of Modern Family.
She opened up about her relationship with actor Matt Prokop (High School Musical 3, Geek Charming). Hyland admitted that Prokop “terrorized [Hyland] both verbally and physically during the last 4 years of their relationship.” This reportedly even included incidents of physical abuse.
When she got her Modern Family mom, Julie Bowen, involved, Prokop allegedly threw a lighter at her and began to threaten her and her dog. Hyland broke up with Prokop and then got a restraining order against him.
Do you have any other secrets about Modern Family to share? Let us know in the comments!
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