Monday, September 21, 2009


Modern Family – A badass television review

MODERN FAMILY which premieres on Sept 23rd is sharp enough to attract a regular following. Think of a more realistic ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT filmed documentary style like THE OFFICE and you have it. Edgy writing and a penchant for the taboo propel its three main plotlines fluidly. For a sitcom, MODERN FAMILY had to come on strong and hard to pack all of its characters and plotlines into this ticking 22 minute pilot.

The ten individuals in the extended family form three separate nuclear families that orbit around each other well. Even though it isn’t revealed until the end of the pilot that these people are all related, the edits from one household to the next are smooth. This show is an obvious twist on the classic big family television shows, however, it doesn’t have them all Waltonized in one house.

Ty Burrell who has put in big-screen time with DAWN OF THE DEAD and THE INCREDIBLE HULK brings a level of dorkiness to his role as the wannabe-hipster father Phil that feels sincere. When Phil is staring down his the older boyfriend of his daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland), he obviously has no idea what he is doing. His wife Claire (Julie Bowen from LOST and BOSTON LEGAL) tolerates Phil’s ridiculousness because she is so completely overwhelmed with her immediate life and her misspent youth. As the show continues, Haley’s growing exasperation with her parents is shown to be justified. But this isn’t a family that is on the verge of collapse, it is merely a family that needs a serious shot of time-earned wisdom. Phil and Claire have been married for 16 years and are distracted and clueless but managing somehow to ward off complacency.

Spacey and befuddled, Jay (Ed O’Neill from MARRIED WITH CHILDREN) is the mid-life crisis surviving patriarch of the entire family. His sexpot Columbian wife of six months Gloria (Sofia Vergara from ENTOURAGE) really loves him but wants to see him out of his boring, old-man shtick. Gloria brings to the marriage her sensitive son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) a hopelessly romantic 11 year-old with an eye for slightly older women.

Possibly the most entertaining members of this family are the reality-grounded Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his flamboyant boyfriend Cameron (Eric Stonestreet). They have been a couple for five years and have just returned from Vietnam with their adopted infant daughter, Lily. Mitchell is struggling with the concept of introducing his daughter to his father because of his sloppy way with Mitchell’s homosexuality.

MODERN FAMILY is solidly grounded in the comedic exaggeration of day to day issues (homophobia, teen angst, mid-life crises) and manages to poke fun while not lecturing. The subject matter is somewhat vulgar, but the show comes off without wallowing in the muck, as ITS ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILEDELPHIA would. With FRASIER’s Christopher Lloyd and JUST SHOOT ME’s Steve Levitan writing this show, the timing and the laughs run like a well-lubricated machine. There is enough subject matter with its ten main characters to run this show hard for a several seasons. For a pilot, MODERN FAMILY comes on pretty strong. This has all of the trappings of a television hit.

-Mediasaurus Rex

Check in on the MODERN FAMILY thread in the Mediasaurs Forums