As of a few days ago, it is officially fall. Fall means apple pie, crisp leaves, and brisk cool air. Fall also means new seasons for some of our favorite T.V. shows, like Modern Family – a feel good show about a quirky, contemporary family dealing with the challenges of life and the meaning of family. The show is typically very comedic and can put anyone in a lighthearted mood.
As an adoptee, the first episode of this current season has a very troublesome scene. Gloria and Jay are taking Manny to the airport along with Lily, a young adoptee from Vietnam. As Manny waves good-bye to his family, embarking on his first trip to Colombia to visit family, Lily asks, “What if he never comes back?” Jay responds, “Oh, honey, no one ever leaves home and doesn’t come back.” Lily then says, “I did.” Nothing more is said about Lily’s question, and the family presumably keeps walking to get ice cream.
At this point, my head is screaming, WHAT? Do they seriously just keep walking?!?! Gloria and Jay do nothing to alleviate Lily’s concerns which are grounded very personally in her own story. Perhaps the last time she was on a plane was when she was on her way to this country, leaving behind everything Vietnamese. Of course, she would associate Manny leaving on a plane as the same thing. Moreover, Gloria and Jay don’t address the fact that Lily feels like she has been taken away from home. While, I know that the show’s emphasis is not on adoption issues, adoption is very much a part of many modern families today and is something that the show should know how to respond to without making unfunny jokes about it.
In this scene, viewers can see two very different ideals. For Manny, it is important that he maintain his cultural roots by going to the country of his heritage. For Lily, the adoptee, her roots have been completely uplifted. Throughout previous seasons, it has been brought up that Lily knows very little about her home country. An effort was made once to go to a Vietnamese restaurant, but that small introduction to food does not replace years of language, culture, and relationships lost.
To me personally, this scene in Suddenly, Last Summer is bothersome because I had a very hard time with good-byes when I was younger. Similar to Lily’s train of thought, good-byes seemed so permanent to me. The one sentence Jay said wouldn’t have convinced me at all. Additionally, it is very frustrating to me when adults underestimate children’s intelligence and ability to understand concepts like adoption. While Lily’s family may feel like they are protecting her by not exposing her to much Vietnamese culture or explaining more about her story, they are only confusing her identity more. From this scene, it is obvious that Lily is unclear about where home is for her, and it will be interesting to see if the writers address this issue in future episodes of this season.