Sunday, May 15, 2011

Modern Family

If you haven't yet enjoyed the laugh-out-loud stylings of Modern Family, one of the best comedies on television outside of the NBC block, check out season one. The focus is on three families that are related. There's Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill) and his second, younger Colombian wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez). The more traditional family is made up of Claire (Julie Bowen), who is Jay's daughter from his first marriage, and Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) and their children Hayley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould). And last, but not least, there's Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), Jay's son from his first marriage and Claire's brother, his partner Cameron Tucker (Eris Stonestreet), and their adopted baby daughter Lily.

I read someone compare Modern Family to a cross between Arrested Development (AD) and The Office and I would agree. It does owe a bit to these two shows. The kooky-family premise is similar to AD, whereas the style of the show is similar to The Office: cameras follow the characters and they often talk to the camera in confession-mode.

All of the characters are drawn funny in their own way. Jay and Gloria are great foils for each other and Manny is a fifty-year-old in a twelve-year-old's body. Claire tries to rein everyone in, especially Phil, who is trying to be the cool dad, but often isn't. Hayley is an exasperated teenager (although she probably doesn't know what "exasperated" means); her sister Alex is whip-smart and sarcastic and the youngest, Luke, is clueless. Mitchell is a bit tightly wound and Cameron, probably my favorite character, is very expressive and dramatic. (Read up more on Michell and Cameron's relationship from this older post, Favorite TV Couples.)

My two favorite episodes from the first season are "En Garde" and "Moon Landing." The first follows Manny in his quest to become a fencing champion and Claire and Mitchell revisit their days as an ice skating pair, even as far as performing their routine in the parking lot of the fencing tournament. Comedy gold! "Moon Landing" includes a hilarious scene in the men's locker room between Jay and Cameron, who are trying to find some common ground by playing racketball together. I cannot describe the scene here and do it justice ... let's just say that it takes advantage of Jay being uncomfortable around a gay man.

Modern Family, Season 1
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