Modern Family (2009– )
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I don't think I've ever seen ABC come out with something in this vein. Normally their shows are a bit watered down, but this is edgy and as fresh as anything I've seen hit network TV. I know that comparisons to Arrested Development will be frequent, but I think that this has more structure. The characters aren't as wacky, but they're more believable and easier to sympathize with in my eyes. Tremendous acting, great kid actors - I forwarded the pilot to a bunch of people already, and I feel lucky that I got to watch it before it came out officially.
It's written by smart and funny people. It shares some DNA with Arrested Development and Fraiser, but has a little bit more heart.
6 episodes in and I am still impressed and still laugh out loud.
I usually avoid ABC because their programming in years past has been terrible and vanilla. Happy to see they have taken some chances on this show and hooray for them, it seems to be finding an audience and critics love it too.
I usually hate shows with little kids in the cast... they usually end up getting used as cute crutches when writers run out of ideas, but Modern Family has been giving the kids sharp dialogue to match the grown ups.
The gay Mitchell and Cameron couple are portrayed honestly and they are hilarious.
The very underrated Ed O'Neill is pitch perfect as the grouchy but soft family patriarch. Sofía Vergara who plays his Colombian trophy wife is excellent and very funny in what could have been written as a terrible bimbo role.
I wasn't sold on Ty Burrell as the dad who tries too hard to be cool after the pilot... but he's a slow burn, and now it works.
Julie Bowen as the slightly off kilter mom adds an anchoring charm to the mix.
Every person on this show gets good lines, and the quality is holding up... I hope they win a boatload of Emmys.
After pretty good first few seasons, everything that followed was getting harder and harder to watch. Jokes are so lame that elicit more and more facepalms.
The only character i still respect in this show is Ed O'Neill, and that is just because he used to be a women's shoe salesman... I will never forget Al Bundy.
There are some parallels to another of my favorites, the little appreciated "Arrested Development", "Modern Family" has its own unique flavor; and the flavor is . . . hilarious!!!
With any modern TV comedy, people are going to compare it with "Arrested Development", which is highly regarded as one of the greatest shows ever by many. "Modern Family" is not quite "A.D.", but I can see why some people may compare the two.
"Modern Family", like "Arrested Development", is a comedy about a wacky extended family that is filmed in a quasi-documentary style, similar to "The Office". The characters don't acknowledge the camera, but they do contribute "talking head" segments to supplement the action. The show is less cartoony and surreal than "Arrested Development" or "30 Rock", but the comedy can still get pretty off-the-wall.
The ensemble cast is great. There are three branches of a single family. The patriarch (Ed O'Neill) has re-married, bringing a Colombian-born wife and her son into the fold. The daughter (Julie Bowen) and her husband (Ty Burrell) have three kids. The son (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his partner (Eric Stonestreet) have just adopted a Vietnamese baby. The show focuses mainly on the parents and how they raise their families and interact with each other in today's society.
My favorite character is Phil (Burrell), who plays the dad who tries to be "hip". He means well, but he's really kind of a wimpy husband. Phil's always putting himself in awkward situations (without always realizing it) and some of his lines are hilarious. He tries so hard to be the "cool dad". Next I like Cameron (Stonestreet), who's gay and proud of it. He's sensible and sensitive and he has some great lines, too.
Although I haven't really connected with the show like I have with some others (just a matter of personal style), there's no denying that "Modern Family" is an above-average comedy. It's written well, with humor sewn throughout the fabric of each episode, and each episode packs some laugh-out-loud moments. And I say this as someone who rarely actually bursts into audible laughter. (Occasionally, with shows like "A.D." or "30 Rock".) This show does it, though. Phil, in particular, has me in stitches.
To give you a comparison, I'd say "Modern Family" is like a cross between "The Office" and "Arrested Development". Presented more like the former, with humor and content drifting more toward the latter. More grounded in reality than "A.D.", though, and without some of the triple-entendres and zingers.
The show finds windows to sneak in some wholesome family morals like togetherness and acceptance, but the episodes always end with a laugh.
But the rumors are true. "Modern Family" IS a very funny new comedy. Check it out on ABC or ABC.com if you don't believe me. (Or wherever else it's available.) It definitely should be on your radar.