The premise of Modern Family is quite simple: It is a show about three different families who are related through heredity or marriage who come together to form one big happy family and how they react with each other. Separately, they’re funny but when they all come together, the highjinks crosses over to hilarious mania.
Modern Family premiered on September 23, 2009 and quickly became a ratings hit. Viewers were amused by the antics of the Dunphys and Pritchett families: Phil Dunphy, wife Claire, daughters Hayley and Alex and son Luke, Jay Pritchett, younger wife Gloria, stepson Manny, Mitchell Pritchett, partner Cam and adopted daughter Lily.
The show didn’t hold back with the humor the families provided: Jay, Claire and Mitchell’s father, is an older man who was married to a much younger Latina woman and Mitchell and Cam were a gay couple who adopted an Asian baby. The jokes were racy at times but the honest the show got, the more viewers Modern Family earned. It also earned a number of Emmy nominations and wins for the show and its actors.
As someone who has watched every episode since the pilot, I have to admit that Modern Family isn’t as funny as it used to be. I believe it is suffering from an ailment that afflicts many longtime series with child actors: the kids grow up. The Dunphy girls, Hayley and Alex used to be a joy to watch when they were teens. True, Alex was the typical brainy younger sister and Hayley was the boy-crazy older one. Not exactly original, but it worked. With Alex now a freshman in college and Hayley still “searching” for a goal in life, their interactions are primarily discussions of their latest men troubles. Their cute little brother, Luke, has also grown up so his life “problems” are similar to his sisters. Saving grace though is when Luke and Manny (His grandfather’s stepson) get together, the laughs are guaranteed. Mitchell and Cam’s adopted daughter Lily is now school age and her behavior sometimes comes off as bratty rather than funny.
I believe the writers realized that with the original kids getting older they knew that needed a “hook” to keep viewers interested. So, enter Gloria’s pregnancy. Now you have Jay, a man in his sixties with grown children and grandchildren becoming a father again. For him, some of the things he’s doing with new son Joe are things he’s never done before. For example, Jay had to participate in a ‘Father and Me’ day at his son’s preschool. As an ‘old school’ father i.e. one who went off to work while the wife took care of the kids, this was new territory.
The only characters in my opinion who have remained constantly funny throughout Modern Family’s seven seasons have been Phil and Claire. Julie Bowen is the diamond in Modern Family’s comedy crown.
Like all aging comedies, you can see that at times the show struggles for laughs. Where I used to laugh so hard I would cry, now I may smile or utter a small chuckle. But this may just be me. Every viewer is different so what’s funny for one person may not be for another.
Do you watch Modern Family? What do you think? Sound off in the comments or tweet @thenerdygirlexp or @stacyamiller85 .