Modern Family fans have watched the Dunphy kids grow up on their screens for years. But for some of the stars, going through puberty in front of millions of viewers wasn't easy.
Nolan Gould and Ariel Winter opened up about the topic during the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Wednesday.
"There's definitely one season for me where I hit puberty right before we went on break," the Luke Dunphy character recalled during a panel. "So when I came back, I had completely changed, but like, not quite enough past…my voice was, like, cracking. It is kind of strange having those years broadcasted to millions of people. It's like your home movies but for everyone to see."
However, the now 21-year-old actor said "we were pretty lucky that we had a great fanbase that's very supportive."
"We feel like family to everyone that watches the show," he explained. "I got nothing but support from our own family, our TV family and all our fans out there that it was pretty easy to transition through those years."
However, Sarah Hyland, who was also on the panel, argued "it's probably easier" for boys and "harder for females."
"I think it's difficult for any child actor, though that's a really hated-on term, but for any child actor to grow up on TV in front of millions of people because millions of people then think they know you and they think they know you really well and think they can comment on everything you wear or everything you do or how you grow up and change," Winter added.
The Alex Dunphy character then said she "especially hated the year" she got braces.
"I do have to say it was a really awkward year for me because I also went through puberty that summer," the 21-year-old actress continued. "So it was, like, we had episodes with me in braces, and then over the summer once we wrapped, I had other things. But I still wasn't fully through puberty like Nolan, so I had things. It was awkward. I definitely think it's really difficult to grow up in front of those people who have an opinion on everything you do and who are allowed to say it at any point."
Hyland referred to these critics as "keyboard trolls."
"Yes, people love the internet, you know," Winter agreed. "So it's definitely difficult, but we had great support in each other and it's made us stronger as we get older, and now we're older. Now we're all adults."
Hyland said she had already gone through puberty when she joined the show. However, the Haley Dunphy character said she still looks back at seasons that were "cringeworthy" due to "health things."
"So I cannot stand, I think it's season four or five, because I had very bad Prednisone face and I gained like 30 pounds," she said. "And that for me was something that Ariel and I were, I think, going through around the same time, where she got her things—that's what you said right? She got things and stuff, and I had another thing, but not as fun. But people really love to attack women especially, and I think Ariel is such an amazing woman and has always been so mature and handles it with such grace and poise, and I think between the two of us, we really have gone and tackled them with all of our spice and wit."
During a separate interview with a group of reporters, Hyland said looking back at these seasons was "annoying," not "painful."
"You're just like, ugh," she said. "The way that I move forward is I will never post a picture from, you know, season four or five."
However, the 29-year-old actress said she's now feeling "great."
Fans can watch the final season of Modern Family Wednesday nights on ABC.