26 October 2009 | jimjo1216
Laugh-out-loud ensemble comedy; a "The Office"/"Arrested Development" hybrid (almost...)
I decided to check out "Modern Family" after hearing all of the critical praise about it. The show was five episodes in, so I caught up on the action online. And I must say that the acclaim is well-deserved. The show is nothing like what I'd imagined when I read about it. It is not a typical three-camera sitcom and it actually IS as gut-wrenchingly funny as people say.
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.