Performing adulthood: The adult-child and the child-adult in Modern Family and Roseanne

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Ironically, "making America great again" has reinscribed the metropolitan metaphor for the US as adolescent, an adult-child accessing sudden power, but unable to manage it. Its reinscription is unexpected, since Neil Postman's thesis in The Disappearance of Childhood–that television has blurred the distinction between childhood and adulthood–is later confirmed in the superior command of the internet by children. This chapter explores the balance of presentational and representational comic styles in two US sitcoms: Modern Family and Roseanne. It compares the characters of Manny Delgado and Lily Tucker-Pritchett from Modern Family with Darlene Conner from Roseanne, who play in the liminal space of the adult-child identified by Postman, and explains the contrasting impact they have on the respective child-adult characters around them, the parents and other caregivers. The chapter argues that the celebration of the adult-child is a significant factor in the emergence of the child-adult, the figure Postman refers to as the "childified adult" as opposed to the "adultified child.".
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren, youth and American television
EditorsAdrian Schober, Debbie Olson
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780429470233
ISBN (Print)9781138601185
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Television Studies


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