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Claire Dunphy is actually more like a… husband?

At first, Modern Family’s Claire Dunphy seems like a traditional housewife, but as we get to know her we realize that she actually kind of fits the traditional role of the husband.

In traditional TV families, the man’s role often framed as primarily financial and he’s often cast as more aloof than his wife, and it’s the wife’s job to provide the children with affection and support. But in the Dunphy house, Phil provides a lot of emotional support, and it’s actually Claire’s determination and shrewd business mind that keeps the household running smoothly.

For Claire, there’s a personal reason she’s gravitated toward more traditionally male attitudes and behaviors. She had an extremely strained and competitive relationship with her mother, so she modeled herself on her father, Jay – a very typical, of-his-era patriarch.

Claire begins the show as a stay at home mom but doesn’t enjoy the mundane everyday tasks of motherhood and keeping a home the way that many TV housewives are shown to. The way she handles things makes it seem to her family like she’s really highly-strung — which she probably is, but that’s in part because she’s in a role that doesn’t fit her, and she’s trying to find satisfaction by replicating business at home. When she starts to realize her professional ambitions at work, and allow Phil to come into his own more in the domestic space in some ways, Claire finds a much better balance and sense of self. When we look at her closely, we can see that Claire really suits the provider role, rather than the nurturer, but that doesn’t stop her from being a great mom.