What is family? Conservatives will tell you it’s a man, a woman, some kids and maybe a dog. Liberals will tell you it’s whatever you feel it should be. Lucky for you, ABC’s new comedy ‘Modern Family” has all the ingredients to keep everyone happy.
The traditional family led by Phil and Claire Dunphy (Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, respectively) and their three kids is buffered by the completely untraditional family of two gay men (Jesse Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet) and their adopted Vietnamese infant daughter, all under the semi-senile watchful eye of a beautiful May-December romance of Jay and Gloria Pritchett (Ed O’Neill and Sophia Vergara) and their kid. O’Neill’s character is also the father of Claire and one half of the gay duo.
The show is shot in the mock- umentary style that has been made popular by ‘The Office” (at this point I would like to remind everyone that while our version of ‘The Office” is decent, the British version is at least 30 times better, maybe even 50).
First of all, let’s all consider the wonderful casting. Burrell is a brilliant choice as the dad who wants to be the coolest cat on the block (and seriously, I wouldn’t mind having him in my life as an actual parent). Some have compared him to Steve Carell, which is just a horrible analogy because Burrell can actually act instead of sitting there and cracking jokes about gay Mexicans.
Julie Bowen is at the uncomfortable age in her career (39) when an actress transitions from playing the hot career type fox to becoming a sitcom mom. In the terms that my male audience will probably understand, she went from being someone who you could see yourself banging at the frats tonight to a MILF (which you could probably also see yourself banging, but in a slightly more awkward Freudian way).
Her character is the disciplinarian of the family, who is terrified that her daughters will end up becoming tramps in their young age much like she did (which raises the question of why she still lives close to her father, a mediocre parent at best. Apparently, chicks with daddy issues just can’t let go). They have an older daughter (who isn’t hot enough for me to ‘define statutory” but still definitely a cute kid), a younger daughter and a son who is probably just about to hit puberty like a sack of bricks. That should make for a fun episode sometime in the future.
Speaking of fun episodes, the entire premise of one episode centered around male bonding, when Phil gets hit in the face with a model airplane and then gives an entire speech comparing his relationship with his father-in-law to those of gorillas where the phrase ‘scarlet behinds” is used. I wish I was lying to you.
The gay couple work because it’s a study in contrasts. Ferguson is a scrawny redhead who yearns to be ‘more like the rest of us” while Stonestreet is a heavy-set man who is proud of his identity . The Vietnamese infant is played to the point of too adorable by a gaggle of Vietnamese infants. Their struggle is much different from the rest of the cast in that they are gay, but the problems they face are issues that everyone has to confront. This being a comedy, shenanigans ensue in parenting classes, the local Costco and a wedding.
O’Neill, who came into my life as the grumpy old man in ‘Married with Children” (quick side note: he really hasn’t aged at all since those days, except maybe a stray chin or two) plays basically the exact same character, only this time he’s got a young Columbian chick at his side and her son, the hilariously love-wise Manny.
I see much potential from the new comedy from ABC. Almost all the casting choices were inspired, the filming has been great and the storylines, while seemingly mundane, are handled with aplomb.
My worry stems from the network that the show is on. It has been known for some time that ABC is second only to Fox News in its handling of comedies (‘Better off Ted” exiled until January? Really?). Thankfully, as you are reading this, the American Broadcasting Company has ordered a full season for you to enjoy.
‘Modern Family” airs every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. on ABC.
Mastrovsky is a member of
the class of 2010.