One of the most loved characters on ABC’s longest-running sitcom ‘Modern Family’, Jay Pritchett can be a tough cookie, especially with his perfectly concocted sarcasm, but from the inside, he is a softy who cries and cares for the people he loves.
A competitive guy with a passion for closets, love for football, and just enough tolerance for Phil (his son-in-law), Modern Family’s Jay Pritchett is all of those things. The storyline unravels the development in Jay’s character (played by Ed O’Neill) and his journey from being an emotionally distant father to an empathetic leader of the family.
Jay Pritchett is a ‘softy’ despite his harsh appearance.
- Modern Family’s Jay Pritchett cares about his son-in-law (Phil)
- Jay Pritchett at Mitch and Cam’s wedding
- Cam and Jay – The football geeks
- Jay Pritchett’s childhood
- Jay loves Manny as much as he loves Mitch and Claire
1) He cares about his son-in-law (Phil)
In hopes of giving a new car to Haley on her 21st Birthday (Episode 10, Season 6), Phil and Jay go to a car showroom to pick the car that Phil has decided on, after doing rigorous research and some deliberation. Jay jumps in between to get Phil a better deal which he ends up ruining (both for Phil and himself).
To make up for the loss, Jay pays an extra $1000 as the difference to get the car, without letting Phil know about it. When the salesperson reveals Jay’s deed, Phil becomes extremely emotional quoting “He cares about what I think about him, that is one beautiful man”.
2) Jay at Mitch and Cam’s wedding
As a successful man in his 70s, Jay has everything- a beautiful wife, three children, and an adorable dog. But he has a hard time accepting Mitch’s sexuality. Jay tries his best to avoid talking about the intricacies of Mitch and Cam’s relationship even though they have been together for more than 15 years.
Having faced numerous obstacles (including Jay’s patronizing remarks about gay weddings) on the day of their wedding, Mitch and Cam decide to call it off before Jay interrupts Mitch telling him that he has booked the country club for the wedding and is very proud that his son is getting married to Cam. The premiere episode (Episode 24, Season 5) ends with Jay walking Mitch down the aisle (with Gloria), followed by Barb and Merle repeating the same with Cam (their son).
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3) Cam and Jay – The football geeks
While Jay keeps Phil on his toes and is rude to him (all the time), he has a very different relationship with Cam. Episode 5 of Season 1 establishes Jay and Cam’s love for football (and Mitch being equally bad at it). The same premise establishes the beginning of a long-term cordial relationship between the two. Jay invites both his kids’ families to watch a football game together where Mitch gets upset
While Jay keeps Phil on his toes and is rude to him (all the time), he has a very different relationship with Cam. Episode 5 of Season 1 establishes Jay and Cam’s love for football (and Mitch being equally bad at it). The same premise establishes the beginning of a long-term cordial relationship between the two. Jay invites both his kids’ families to watch a football game together where Mitch gets upset as he feels left out among the “Football Geek Club”.
From introducing Cam as ‘a friend of my son’s’ to recreating football memories with him, Jay has come a long way. Jay was able to accept Cam so early because of their common love for the sport of football which helped Cam bond better with his father-in-law.
4) Jay’s childhood
Alex, Haley, Luke, Lily, Manny, and even little Joe, all the kids in the family grow up listening to Jay’s anecdotes from his childhood. In those stories, Jay speaks highly of his father and how he always worked hard to get a little pat on the shoulder from his father (who must be really uptight since Jay is no different). These stories help the viewers understand why he always puts a lid on his emotions and abstains from expressing his feelings, instances of which can be seen when he tries to hug Mitch or Phil.
Later in the show, as the most developed character of all, Jay can be seen sobbing like a baby in several episodes like ‘Clean out your junk Drawer’, ‘Mother’s Day’, and ‘Crying out loud’, mostly when he brings up his childhood into conversations with the family. “You only get one mom” is one of the most emotional one-liners from the ‘Toughie-tough Jay Pritchett’.
5) Jay loves Manny as much as he loves Mitch and Claire
As the two most diametrically opposite characters in ABC’s sitcom, Jay and Manny start of turbulent where Manny doesn’t easily accept Jay as his father figure. One because he is not his biological dad, and two because he is too old to be the father of an 11-year-old. Though Gloria tries to resolve their conflicts the two characters only get to understand each other better with time.
By the final season, viewers get to see a whole new bond which connects the two men. After Jay and Manny (Episode 16, Season 11) argue over wine, they decide to have a blind taste test to conclude who has an elite palate for wine. Jay admits that he had never imagined having anything in common with Manny, given that he was a sports lover whereas Manny was a theatre geek. They had found a common love for expensive wine which Jay thought was best kept preserved, thereby deciding not to conclude the ‘tasting contest’.
The Closet King of ‘Modern Family‘ once said “Life is full of changes. Some big, some small. I learned a long time ago, you can fight it or try to make the best of it. And that’s all a lot easier if you’ve got people who love you to help you face whatever life throws at you”. Jay Pritchett may be a man of steel, but he’s surely got the heart of a baby.