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TV Review: Modern Family

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Forget the typical primetime sitcom format or those cheeky Saturday Evening Post covers. ABC’s cheery and witty show Modern Family portrays a not-so-stereotypical 21st Century family through a satirical-yet-kindhearted lens. The show’s mockumentary style and understated hilarity are like that of The Office. The show also presents life lessons and stresses the importance of family, no matter how dysfunctional or backwards it may be.

Modern Family first aired on ABC in 2009, and was soon facing rumors of cancellation after only the first season. However, the humor and lightheartedness of the show captured the attention of millions of viewers, and it went on to earn three Emmys in 2010, including best comedy.

The show follows the lives of one big and diverse family. Jay Pritchett, a somewhat cranky retired business owner who would rather golf and watch football all day than anything else. Jay is newly married to Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, a young, fiery Colombian woman with a lust for life, and being right all the time. Together the two help raise Gloria’s son, Manny Delgado, a preteen who shows wisdom and refinement far beyond his years.

Jay is also the father to Claire Dunphy, a middle-aged wife and mother of three who loves each of them through just about anything. Claire’s husband Phil Dunphy sells real estate, and sometimes takes on the role as the fourth child of the family, as he’s constantly striving to be the hippest dad on the block. Haley, the oldest of the three kids, is a ditsy, diva-tastic teenager on the verge of obtaining a driver’s license. Then there’s Alex, a middle school bookworm that is still looking for her place in the world, but at the same time is never short of witty jabs at her siblings’ expenses. Finally Luke, the youngest Dunphy, would be best raised under constant supervision, or maybe even kept in a bubble.

The last piece to this family puzzle is Mitch Pritchett, Jay’s son and Claire’s brother. Mitch is a slightly neurotic but successful lawyer, and he and his theatrical and emotionally driven boyfriend Cameron Tucker, a homemaker, just adopted a baby girl from Vietnam. Together, these three families make up a big, happy, multi-racial family.

There are so many things about Modern Family that I love. Humor is present in every scene, whether it’s a ridiculous situation or an understated joke; I end up laughing out loud at least once during every episode. The characters and the situations they put themselves in are believable, and relatable. Another great aspect of the shows is the emphasis of being together as a family. If an all-out fight or a sneaky, snide comment comes between them, they rally, forgive, and remember what important—it’s the perfect equation for that warm fuzzy feeling. But, perhaps my favorite part of the show is the characters’ ability to laugh at themselves. I mean, it’s one thing to point the finger at someone else, but when these characters are able to take a look in the mirror and give a little giggle, that makes the humor that much better.

Modern Family airs on ABC Wednesdays at 9pm/8 Central. Fans of The Office and 30 Rock should definitely tune in. I would also recommend it to anyone looking for a good hearty laugh, or anyone in need of a nice pick-me-up with purpose.

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About Frances Mooney

  • gc

    Modern Family is a fraud. It is neither sitcom nor mockumentary but a pastiche whose producers lack the courage to attempt to work in either (great) medium. The sitcom scenes end with no sting. The non-jokes are then topped with pieces-to-camera in an attempt to punch something through.You can’t have it both ways: either the camera is following the faux real-action or else there are cameras placed in multiple locations for quick cutting between rehearsed scenes.
    For mockumentary, check out the movies of Christopher Guest or the British TV shows “The Office” and “People Like Us” or the work of the great Australian chronicler Chris Lilley.
    For sitcoms, you can’t go past “Curb”, “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons”. But the two genres should never be mixed. You can’t eat your cake and have it too.