Modern Family is a sitcom on ABC about the lives of three vastly different nuclear families within one larger extended family. It’s currently on hiatus and in its third season.
Jay Pritchett, played by Ed O’Neill, is the eldest member of the family. He’s married to a hot Columbian woman named Gloria, played by Sofia Vergara, who is the epitome of a trophy wife. Upon marrying Gloria, Jay also gained custody of her very young, yet wise and romantic eleven-year-old son, Manny, who causes Jay daily distress; Jay feels Manny is not enough of a man. Viewers quickly learn where Jay’s complex concerning masculinity comes from, as the next facet of this very modern family is made up of Jay’s gay son Mitchell, played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, his partner Cam, played by Eric Stonestreet, and their Vietnamese adopted daughter, Lilly, who by the time of the third season, is approximately four years old.
The final facet of the family is comprised of Jay’s daughter Claire, played by Julie Bowen, her husband Phil Dunphy, played by Ty Burrell, their daughters Haley and Alex, played by Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter, respectively, and their son Luke, played by Nolan Gould. All three families reside in the same neighborhood, and their daily interactions are completely hilarious. The wild differences among the various parts of the family make for continual clashes and never fail to remind viewers of the many different meanings of the word “family.” Modern Family has proven to be not only a source of entertainment and quick laughs every Wednesday night, but also an eye opener and a learning experience for passing viewers and devoted fans alike.
Modern Family started out fairly strong in season one, mainly familiarizing viewers with the names and personalities of the various members of this large and diverse family before delving into more involved plotlines and getting into the rhythm that is now what regular viewers think of as the true Modern Family. The show hit its stride with season three as the producers took greater advantage of the show’s potential to create pure insanity by pushing each character to his or her brink. The two characters who have come out the strongest this season have been Cam and Mitchell, the show’s gay couple. One of my favorite episodes involves Cam, who is overweight, attempting to go on a juice cleanse, (or, in Luke’s words, a “Jew’s cleanse”). Mitchell goes on the juice cleanse along with him, and they both have hunger-induced breakdowns at Michtell’s workplace. It ends with the two of them falling into the ocean as they declare their love to each other, and with Cam imitating Marlon Brando in his role as Stanley Kowalski in the movie A Streetcar Named Desire as he goes searching for Gloria’s lost dog, coincidentally named Stella. These are two of Modern Family’s shining moments.
Of course, all of the characters contribute to the show. Claire’s borderline case of OCD is a source of constant stress, and her husband Phil and son Luke with their childish schemes and goofy behavior add their special something as well. Gloria’s son Manny writes love poems and picks roses for the various girls he pines after day after day.
Unexpectedly, the writers of Modern Family have found a way to make these wildly different characters work together in an absolutely natural, smooth way, and have created a hilarious and lovable show as a result.
Meghan McCullough is a native New Yorker who has always had a deep interest in writing. She is continuing this passion as an English major at Amherst College.