Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How I Got Hooked On Modern Family

Modern Family (ABC, Wednesdays) has quickly become one of the hottest shows on television in just its first season.  Its fourteen Emmy nominations makes it one of the most nominated shows for this year's awards.  Almost the entire adult cast was nominated in the "best supporting" category.  (Ed O'Neill was the only regular who wasn't nominated - too bad for Ed, but hard to imagine 4 actors from one show being nominated for the same award.)  Personally, I think this is the best show (comedy) on TV for at least the last 10 years.

So how did I get into the show?  It was an accident.  Seriously.

Sometime last fall, in late September, I am at work talking to some colleagues, one of them started talking about this new show "Cougar Town".  I had not seen the show and didn't know anything about it, although it was easy to infer from the name that it was about a forty-something MILF-type "on the prowl" for some younger meat.  "You know, the new show with Courtney Cox?" my friend asked.  Sorry, hadn't seen it.  "Oh, it's really funny.  Kind of edgy - almost crosses the line with sexual references and such."  Another colleague joined the conversation, agreeing.  "Oh, yeah, definitely check it out."  OK, then.  Wednesday you say?  ABC?  I'll check it out next week.

So next Wednesday came around, and sometime before 8:30 PM I put ABC on.  I caught most of The Middle - not bad - I've always liked Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond.  Then it was 9:00 PM.  What's this show?  Modern Family?  Never heard of it.  Hmmm, Ed O'Neill... ah, good old Al Bundy.  Don't know any of the other actors.  Well, it's only 30 minutes... let's get this over with.

It was the episode "The Bicycle Thief".  (Phil tries to teach Luke a lesson by pretending to steal his bike when he thinks his son hasn't been responsible, except that he ends up stealing someone else's bike that looks just like Luke's.  Later, he loses the bike, thinking that it's been stolen from him.)  I wasn't even through my first episode and I was hooked.  (By the way, I continued watching that night to see Cougar Town.  Not bad, some laughs, a bit edgy but not as edgy as I expected, but not nearly as good as Modern Family.  Since that night, I have not missed an episode of Modern Family (repeats included) and I'm batting about 40% on Cougar Town.)

The next day at the office, I was chatting with my colleagues who were hyping Cougar Town the previous week.  "Cougar Town was OK, but did you see that show Modern Family that's on before Cougar Town?"  They said they hadn't.  I described the show and hyped it up to them.  They became hooked the next week.

So what makes this such a great show?  Here are my top 5 reasons:

(1) The writing - This is by far number one.  Without the writing, the rest fails.  It's the writing that creates the jokes.  It's the writing that creates the characters and their interactions.  Great actors have been in bad shows and movies.  Great character development can't sustain a comedy that isn't funny.  The writing is believable, it's every day, everyone can relate to it.  Hats off to the writers - hope they win an Emmy.

(2) Number two is much harder, and this is a bit of the chicken and egg syndrome.  It's between the actors and the characters - I'll have to go with the characters.  (Do the actors make the characters?  Or do the characters you love make the actors seem better?)  All of the characters are believable, most are likeable, and they are developed well (a tribute to the writing).

(3) The acting - This could easily be number two.  Other than maybe Ed O'Neill, the rest of the cast were not household names before Modern Family.  But wow, have they sprung on the scene.  Six Emmy Nominations for the regulars.  It's kind of a show by committee - no clear lead actor/actress (all were nominated for the "best supporting" category).  And they are all good.  Eric Stonestreet for best supporting actor - best supporting actress may not go to Modern Family, but if it does, I'd go with Julie Bowen.

(4) The camera work - The single camera style certainly isn't new, but it works well.  I love when the characters sometimes look at the camera casually, usually after someone else does something dumb ("can you believe this?") or after someone else has put them on the spot (the "help me" look).  It's almost as if the viewer is a silent character in the show, represented by the camera.

(5) It's current - Older guy married to a young, foreign bombshell; a gay couple adopting a Vietnamese baby; even an entire episode dedicated to Phil trying to score an iPad for his birthday.  Some people think the iPad episode was overdone, personally I loved it - at my office we were all talking about the iPad right as it was being launched, so I could relate to it (no, I don't have one).

Anyway, great show.  I'm glad my colleagues turned me on to it, even if it was by accident.  Can't wait for season two!!!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Matt - Thanks for checking out my blog. I can now see that you truly are a huge Modern Family fan. Yeah! Nice blog. Best, Michael