Is Cam Too Sensitive? By Nicole Mendez


Modern Family is a mockumentary-style sitcom on ABC about Jay Pritchett and his family. The show does not only reflect Jay’s life, but also the lives of his two children and their families. In total, the show includes eleven characters today. The first family is Jays, who includes his younger Columbian second wife Gloria and his “beyond his age” stepson Manny. The second family is Jay’s daughter Claire’s, who includes her husband Phil, a self-professed “cool dad”, and their three children your typical teenager Haley, brainiac middle daughter Alex, and rambunctious only son Luke. The final family is Jay’s son Mitchell an uptight homosexual lawyer that lives with his life partner Cam Tucker, an outgoing and sometimes dramatic stay at home dad to their adopted Vietnamese daughter Lily. The show depicts the lives of these three “modern families” and follows their day-to-day lives as well as how they deal with the classic curveballs life can throw you. The show is now on there fifth season and has won four Emmy’s Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series.

In the ABC family clip “Everyone Thinks Cam is Too Sensitive,” an excerpt from the Modern Family episode “Farm Strong” provides many examples of nonverbal communication through emotions, image management, kenosis and vocalic cues. The clip begins with a family meeting between the shows regular eleven characters and a guest appearance by Cam’s sister Pam. Claire makes a comment to her father, Jay, stating he is being over sensitive about the family “munching on free food.” Cam then takes this opportunity to address the comment with a referral to his sister, Pam a “self appointment sensitivity expert” as Cam calls her as a result of a conversation they had previously about Cam’s sensitivity. Cam uses this, as an opportunity to ask his family if they feel they have “walk on egg shells” around him because is too sensitive. This is an example of image management, which is defined by our textbook as how we want others to see us (Burgoon, Guerrero, Floyd 261). Cam wants to show his sister that his family does not see him as too sensitive. As the family begins to confess to Cam instances and feelings they chose to keep from him due to his sensitivity, Cam increasingly uses nonverbal cues to manage his emotions and image. Cam reacts by attempting to mask his emotions, his kenosis and vocalic cues reflect different. Cam’s vigorous hand gestures and avoidance of eye contact portray Cam’s frustration and reactions to the information he is received. For example, when Claire says she talked to Beyonce at the restaurant Cam his shoulders become fidgety and shaking of his head in reaction to her statement. Cam also shows his emotions in his face, with the wrinkling of his face and fluttering of his eyes. Cam presents his emotions through vocalic cues as well. Although his speech is normally fluctuated and animated, other forms of vocalic cues are used to represent emotions in this scene. For example, as the confessions continue, Cam’s voice begins to rise in pitch, increase speed, and become harsher in tone. These vocalic cues represent Cam’s emotions of upset, frustration and sadness because his image management is being threatened. Although Cam is trying to mask his sensitivity to the confessions of his family members the Clip “Everyone Thinks Cam is Too Sensitive” shows Cam’s emotions and reactions through his nonverbal cues included kenosis and vocalic cues. This clip is an example of an individual trying to implement issue management but is contradicted when his nonverbal cues reflect his true feelings.

ABC Family. (2013). Everyone thinks cam is too sensitive [Theater]. Available from

Blackwelder, C. (Composer). (2013, Feb. 19). Modern Family [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Modern family . (8, Nov 2013). Retrieved from


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