With the fall TV season approaching rapidly (how on EARTH is it already September?), I’m realizing that there are a few shows I love but haven’t mentioned here on the blog as yet. So over the coming days, watch out for more installments in my “Five reasons to watch” series! First up, this year’s Emmy winner (deservedly so) for Best Comedy Series – Modern Family.
Five reasons to watch Modern Family
1. The writing is sharp and clever. Not for nothing did this show clinch an Emmy for its screenwriters. What this talented crew has figured out is a way to weave together traditional sitcom plots and present them in a way that feels fresh and, well, modern. They take those everyday foibles that bind families together and present them to us like holding up a mirror. It’s funny because it’s true. And these families are truly modern – no Cleaver stereotypes to gag over. I can’t tell you how many times ScottE and I argue over who is more Cameron and who is more Mitchell. (OK, so sometimes I’m Claire, too.)
2. Characters to care about. In a comedy, nothing is worse to me than a character that’s just loathsome and played to the hilt for laughs. But on this show you won’t find anyone like that. Each character has elements that you want to root for, and you recognize elements of your own family in them. Who hasn’t had known a parent that tried too hard to be cool with his kids? Or a kid that was unusually mature for her age? They live, hope and dream just like us. That reality is truly appealing.
3. Actors that kill it. All my love to Eric Stonestreet for his win as a Supporting Actor winner! But trust me when I say he’s not the only gem on this show. In fact, I defy you to find a weak point. From the adults to the kids, this is a very talented ensemble that milks every word for a laugh, but in a way that isn’t desperate or pandering. Even actors that I haven’t much liked in the past (Julie Bowen and Ed O’Neill) positively shine on this show. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I have to call myself a Sofia Vergara fan – her Gloria is a vamp, a brain and a tender mother all rolled into one. And amongst the kids I can’t get enough of Sarah Hyland as oldest daughter Haley – her looks to the camera speak volumes!
4. The interview style. OK, I know it feels overdone after The Office and all the Christopher Guest movies. But I finally figured out why this style has an appeal; it mirrors the inner monologue narrative that we read in so many novels. Have you ever read a great book where the character thinks to him/herself a lot and you think, “This book is awesome, but how could they make it into a movie?” To me, the interview format accomplishes that in a tongue-in-cheek way that is unique to comedy. Could it get old after 5 seasons? Perhaps. But for now it works.
5. It has heart, and lots of it. Here is where we get to the crucial element that I think puts Modern Family just a nose ahead of Glee, and thus earned that Emmy trophy. Underneath the madness, the improbable situations and the slapstick, this is a show that touches you. You’ll find no better example than the Hawaii trip near the end of the season where Phil gave Claire a gift that still makes me teary just thinking about it. Those tender moments catch you unawares, and that’s such a blessing in a sitcom. Don’t bash me over the head with “a very special episode of…!” When I watch this show I’m always smiling at the end – sometimes from laughter, sometimes because my heart just melted. Either way it’s a treat.
So check it out! Next time I’ll talk about a show already in its current season that’s worth catching up on if you’re late to the game – Best Drama Series winner Mad Men!