“The other part of the mix is are you learning things through their behaviors and observing them that you didn’t know about that category beforehand?” he says. “If so, then the more complicated your category of whatever it is — lesbians, gay men — the less likely you are to reduce them down to a stereotype.”

Modern Family is now the most popular TV show in the U.S. There’s not only a gay couple, but this couple is in the process of adopting a second child. Schiappa says the idea of a gay couple with children is much more mainstream now.

It must be: Modern Family has won awards from Catholic organizations and even Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he likes the show.

“There’s no question that that the show is doing what I just described before as category work,” Schiappa says. “It’s changing our understanding of what gay men are like, particularly as parents.”