July 28, 2010


This past season was a good year for freshman comedies on the 3 out of the 4 main networks (ABC, FOX, & NBC), and one of the break out hits was Modern Family, which I missed out on because it went up against Glee for the first half of the season.

Even though I wasn't watching Family, a lot of my online buddies were raving about it, but I was still hesitant mostly because it reminded me so much of The Office (which I haven't been a fan of for the last couple of seasons). This summer I realized that I could no longer put off watching ABC's newest hit.

After only a few episodes it was clear why the show got so much love. It's genuinely funny, smart, and heart warming all at the same time. Sure, the mockumentary style was a little stale mostly due to The Office fatigue, but it works so much better in a family setting than in a work one. It's not as forced and awkward when you see parents trying too hard instead of a boss.

Of course, the family drove the show, and most of the characters were interesting/charming enough, but Ty Burrell, as Phil Dunphy, stole the show from episode one. His shtick could have easily gotten old fast, but his inanity was countered by his good nature. Phil didn't reach Michael Scott levels of absurdity, but again I think it's because I can buy a father acting like this with his family, but I could never believe that any company would continue to employ a boss like Michael.

Phil was complemented by his loving wife, Claire who was brilliantly portrayed by Julie Bowen. In some ways Bowen had the toughest job of playing the straight woman to Burrell's slapsticky act, and she knocked it out of the park. Being the serious one didn't mean Claire was boring or unfunny because she had some great moments that were more believable, which made them even funnier.

The rest of the cast was pretty solid (especially Ed O'Neil and Eric Stonestreet), but there were some weak links. Manny's old soul bit didn't have much staying power, and it got really annoying towards the end of the season. Gloria's loud Latina routine, and Mitchell's uptight lawyer act also ran out of steam, but they helped round out the wacky family.

Modern Family was able to breathe life into the family comedy, and it deserved all of the critical and fan love. I'll probably give Season 2 a shot until mid-season when it goes up against Glee once again, but this time around I'll make sure to catch up on episodes via Hulu or ABC.com.


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