Monday, November 7, 2011

Modern Family: Making Differences Funny

One of my favorite comedies for the past couple of seasons has been Modern Family. It is a clever and witty comedy shot in a mockumentary style similar to that of The Office and Parks & Recreation, often cutting from the scene to interviews with the characters.

What I love most about Modern Family are the individual characters that make up an eclectic and unconventional family structure. There’s Phil and Claire Dunphy, played by Ty Burell and Julie Bowen, a couple that truly balance each other out with their polar opposite personalities. Phil is silly and prefers friendly parental tactics as opposed to Claire’s uptight suburban ways. Their kids, Haley who is constantly glued to her phone reveling in teenage drama, Alex, a clever and sarcastic bookworm and Luke, who gets lost in his own world have a great dynamic as siblings.

Then there’s Jay Pritchett played by Ed O’Neill, Claire’s blunt and retired father who is married to the Colombian fireball Gloria Delgado, played by Sofia Vergara. Their family is complete with Manny, played by Rico Rodriguez, Gloria’s old-soul son from her first marriage. Manny drinks espresso, writes poetry and is truly an old man stuck in a young boy’s body. There are a lot of cultural clashes between the three creating for great opportunities for laughs.

Finally, there’s Mitch Pritchett (son of Jay) played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Cameron Tucker played by Eric Stonestreet. Mitch is a very precise and practical lawyer as opposed to Cameron, who is very flamboyant and theatrical. The couple have a sweet adopted Vietnamese daughter, Lily.

The three segmented families often come together in episodes for family events. The show takes a lot of risks and the writers are always pushing the envelope, making sure that issues and taboos surrounding marriage, divorce, interracial relationships, gay relationships and beyond are always acknowledged and dealt with in a light-hearted and funny way. Modern Family manages to focus on both adult and adolescent problems, and reminds viewers that it is possible to transcend age—you can be young and mature and you can also be older and silly.

Modern Family never fails to show us how awkward and uncomfortable growing up and being an adult can be. But it also never forgets to remind us how having a family who cares about you is possibly one of the best (or one of the worst) things that you can have in life, regardless of how regular or unconventional they are.

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