I know I’m late to the dance on this one, but hot damn Modern Family is an amazing show. Adding to my lateness was a trip to Michigan that interfered with the missus’ and I watching the first season on DVD after becoming fans of the second season this year. If you’re unfamiliar, the show is about father Jay (Ed O’Neil), his son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), daughter Claire (Julie Bowen) and their families. Jay’s married to a Colombian woman named Gloria (Sofia Vergara) with a young son named Manny (Rico Rodriguez) who has a love for the finer things in life. Meanwhile, Mitchell and his partner Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) have just recently adopted a Vietnamese girl they’ve named Lily. Claire is married to Phil (Ty Burrell) and they have three kids: vapid cool girl Haley (Sarah Hyland), smart but manipulative Alex (Ariel Winter) and dumb-as-a-post Luke (Nolan Gould). The show is shot like a documentary with scenes playing out accompanied by commentary and interviews with the subjects. As far as I know, it’s like The Office and you don’t really know why they’re being filmed, but it really doesn’t matter.
All of that might sound a little complicated, but don’t worry about it. We missed out on the first season as it happened thanks to some scheduling conflict or another and just jumped in with the second season. There were a few questions here and there, but nothing that stopped the enjoyment. Needing something to fill the days–my wife has been on maternity leave so we’ve been watching a lot of TV together–I moved the four discs up to the top of our Netflix queue and we enjoyed the crap out of them. In fact, we liked them so much that I not only want to buy the season–something I haven’t done for a show currently on the air in a few years–but also can’t wait to rewatch the second season knowing more of the history with these characters. I dig all the characters, from Cam the foppish father who can quickly turn into tough southern dude if his family is threatened to Claire and her “trying so hard to keep it all together even though things aren’t really that bad or falling apart” nature. But, right now, my favorite character is Phil, the dad who tries to be cool and is maybe a little too proud of his college days as a male cheerleader. I knew from the first episode that I loved this guy, as he talks about being cool played over him singing and dancing to a number from High School Musical. He’s so genuine and honest and maybe a little desperate for attention, but don’t we all know parents like that? Familiarity aside, though, it’s Burrell’s spot on performance that makes him such a joy to watch. You can see the emotions roll across Phil’s face as he realizes he’s in a bad situation or that his son might be a little too much like him. It’s amazing.
To me, Modern Family is the closest thing we’ve gotten to Arrested Development since that show went off the air six years ago. Modern lacks Arrested‘s cynicism, but still tells relate-able stories hilariously and performed amazingly by a cast that is A plus all the way. The writing sets up the reality and then these actors send it home with some of the most real performances you’ll see on television. Like Arrested, there are moments in this show that will remind you of conversations or fights you’ve had and moments that will make you laugh yourself silly. I actually had to stop and catch my breath because of the deleted scenes starring a canine butler statue.
I’m retroactively calling Modern Family my favorite show of the last season. I know things have been over for a few weeks now, but I can’t think of another show that gave me nearly this much enjoyment, camaraderie or laughs in a long time. If you’re like I was last season and kept hearing about the show, but weren’t sure about the hype, I highly recommend checking the show out. It’s not just hype, it’s great television.