Modern Family is one of the best sitcoms still running today.
With such an abundance of gritty, tense and well-budgeted TV shows dominating the industry (with the likes of Game of Thrones or any of Netflix’s original shows), sometimes it’s great to sit back and relax with a more lighthearted series. And while there are many huge names that come to mind (for example Big Bang Theory), Modern Family, in my opinion, is a key example of a perfect sitcom.
A mockumentary-style comedy that focuses on the antics of three ordinary families in Los Angeles, Modern Family has something for everyone. Whether it’s the likeable cast, the comedy, or even just the warm, family vibe you get while watching the show, this sitcom has it all.
Sitting comfortably on its ninth season, the series has received countless awards and nominations from Primetime Emmy Awards, the Golden Globes, People’s Choice Awards, Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards…(I really could keep going).
I love Modern Family, and I reckon you would too.
In light of that, I’ve compiled several reasons why Modern Family is such a great show.
1. Great characters
By far the one aspect that makes Modern Family stand out from other shows is the incredibly well-rounded, relatable and thoroughly developed characters that the series centres around.
Regardless of whether you’re still a kid, a parent, or even a grandparent, there’s at least one character that you can see yourself in. By being able to identify yourself in one of the characters, Modern Family invites you to be a part of their family, and engages you in the series, making the show all the more personal (and fun).
It’s not just the different personalities that make up the ensemble of characters, the chemistry between characters is almost incomparable to other shows.
The family dynamic benefits from having such a wide range of people that don’t always come together well. The constant conflict and resolution is reminiscent of how a family in real-life would operate.
After more than 200 episodes and nearly a decade, Modern Family stands out from other shows by allowing characters to grow and mature. Sitcoms like Friends or Big Bang Theory lasted over a decade, and while we go through some of their big life achievements (weddings, breakups, promotions), Modern Family benefits from a big household, making room for graduations, first dates, or even college. These events are huge and life-changing for families, hence the emotional weight is much heavier for us as the audience.
Not only that, we get the privilege of seeing kids grow up over the show. Recently adopted babies in season one are now nearly ten years old in the latest season. The stereotypical high school teenager is now a fully grown adult. We see them start off as young, immature children, and have grown to be older mature adults… ok, they’re still rather immature… we’ll go with ‘work in progress’.
2. Outstanding writing
This series prides itself on its phenomenal writers that have yet to disappoint. Every episode brings in a new and original idea that allows for crazy shenanigans to happen.
While other shows may focus on crazy stories about ridiculous conflicts or impossible scenarios, Modern Family is grounded by realistic and everyday situations. Misunderstandings, bad neighbours, a lie gone wrong, confrontation – the show emphasises events that go on in our everyday life, making way for hilarious comedy that never fails to make me laugh.
A while back, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a lot of what happens in Modern Family was inspired through real-life experiences from the writers, cast and crew of the show. It’s amazing because it further highlights my point that the show, while wacky and hilarious, constantly remains grounded through relatable characters and realistic scenarios.
What’s more impressive, however, is their ability to discuss big issues without feeling the need to ‘tiptoe around eggshells’.
The Pritchett family isn’t always a perfect happy family, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. They’re often plagued by internal conflict with one another. Whether if it’s clash of opinions or new additions to the family, the series uses real drama to create problems in the narrative.
For example, in just the fifth episode of season one “Coal Digger”, Claire finds herself having to deal with a situation after calling her new step-mum a ‘gold-digger’. The title of the episode is a fun stab at the kids’ misinterpretation of the term (when they unknowingly accusing her of ‘digging coal’), as well as being a clear example of some of the heavier themes explored through the series.
3. Realistic humour
Now let’s talk comedy. After all, what’s a good sitcom if it doesn’t have great humour? Well lo and behold, Modern Family has a variety of snappy dialogue, awkward misunderstandings and niche references that you’re sure to love (and laugh).
Modern Family rises above the typical uses of laugh tracks and instead focuses on comedic timing and uncomfortable situations.
It’s original, it’s unique, but most of all, it helps highlight how skilled the writers are when producing these episodes.
Here’s a great example of the kind of humour used in the series.
Uncomfortable misunderstandings, excellent writing and great comedic timing all add up to the variety of hilarious scenes that are sure to have you laughing out loud.
4. Unique style
A majority of shows utilise a small number of sets, and a standardised number of cameras. Modern Family even likes to take a different approach in terms of their style and presentation.
A mockumentary refers to a specific type of movie or TV show that is presented as a real-life documentary.
Modern Family is referred to as being “told from the perspective of an unseen documentary filmmaker”, which is well explored through the interview formats and jarring camera movements (resembling handheld cameras). This helps emphasise the realistic and honest aspect of this series.
The interview clips are also very effective in allowing us to understand different characters’ perspectives in different situations. Often times they will be hiding secrets from one another, or scheming behind their back (in a loving manner) and the interviews give us a quick and straightforward explanation that gets us up to speed every episode.
5. Life lessons and morals
Some of the best content on TV usually has a heartfelt moral or lesson that can be learnt, and Modern Family is no exception. The writers create a scenario each episode that is usually based around an issue that is present in everyday family life, such as invasion of privacy, deception, self-worth, etc. Not only does this give them leeway for great comedy or different narratives, it also helps them drive the story with a strong moral in mind.
At the end of many of the episodes, they’ll usually have a character give a short quote about the issue raised in the episode. They’ll make general claims about how it affects them in life, and reflect on how they need to be conquered.
Here’s one of my favourite examples:
“There are dreamers and there are realists in this world. You’d think the dreamers would find the dreamers, and the realists would find the realists, but more often than not, the opposite is true. You see, the dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists, well, without the dreamers, they might never get off the ground.” – Cameron Tucker
What’s even cooler is that they do it in a way that is usually both sentimental and not too cheesy, incorporating that iconic Modern Family humour that so many of us love.
There’s so much to learn from Modern Family.
Whether it’s dealing with difficult situations, finding the humour in awkward scenarios, or even just every day life lessons to take away from each episode, Modern Family stands out from other shows on TV by being more than your typical sitcom.
It really is a great show, so much so that I’m currently in the process of re-watching the entire series for the third time now. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, I’d suggest you do so immediately.