LOS ANGELES, April 8 (UPI) -- Modern Family has been a staple of ABC's programming for 11 years. After the sitcom airs its final episode Wednesday, the cast hopes future TV shows build off of its foundation.
Sofia Vergara thought her Colombian accent was holding back her career. She had appeared on short-lived sitcoms like Hot Properties and Knights of Prosperity and starred in movies like Big Trouble, Chasing Papi and Four Brothers. Modern Family showed her prospects were not so limited.
"Sounding like this, I never thought that I was going to be able to get a job that was so successful, being seen all over the world," Vergara said on a Television Critics Association Panel on Jan. 8. "I had been working for, like, almost 20 years before I got lucky with Modern Family."
Vergara said she mentally prepared for the inevitable conclusion of Modern Family. She still believes there's no guarantee she'll work again, but Modern Family afforded her a safety net for that worst-case scenario.
"I might not ever get a job again, but now I have the money," Vergara said. "I can sit in my house."
When Modern Family debuted in 2009, it featured the first gay couple as leads of a half-hour comedy. Shows like Will & Grace and Ellen had introduced gay main characters.
Cam Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) adopted a daughter in the first episode of Modern Family. Ferguson hopes writers expand upon the same-sex parenting storylines the show presented for 11 years.
"I hope that Mitch and Cam open the door for other writers and for people to be inspired to keep creating. There's so many more stories for the LGBTQ to tell," Ferguson said. "I hope that that's just a way in for other people to write."
Ferguson believes Modern Family succeeded with Mitchell and Cam because their parental stories were universal.
"Becoming new parents for the first time is something that's incredibly relatable to so many people, gay and straight and nonbinary," Ferguson said. "I think it was revolutionary back then, and I don't think it's as revolutionary now, which I think is a great thing."
Stonestreet concurred that Modern Family never treated Mitch and Cam as special or "other."
"It never felt like there was some agenda to hide Mitch and Cam's outward affection for each other," Stonestreet said. "It was just people playing characters on TV."
Ferguson also noticed the attention paid toward Mitch and Cam evolve. As the show ends, they no longer have to qualify that they're playing "the gay couple" on Modern Family.
"I think Mitch and Cam were definitely under a bit more of a microscope in the early part of the season and the early years of the show," Ferguson said. "More so than other couples and maybe even other TV shows just because we were representative of a certain group. I think that it's impossible to represent an entire group with two people."
Stonestreet felt that once viewers got to know their characters, the pressure to represent all gay parents lessened.
"We were able to make all of the same mistakes raising a child and being in a relationship that everyone else is," Stonestreet said. "The imperfect relationship is what made it so relatable and real."
Cast members, who will continue separate pursuits, agreed that no subsequent job would be quite like Modern Family. During its run, Vergara launched jeans, furniture, underwear, and talent management and media businesses, which will continue.
"To be able to get all the opportunities that I got, to be able to expand my brand and do all the business things that I wanted, it was all a gift to me," Vergara said. "While I was filming Modern Family these 11 years, I took advantage of everything, every awards show, meeting everyone, everything."
The Modern Family series finale airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on ABC.