When Jasper Carrott tried the box ticking approach to inclusive family sitcom the result was the All About Me calamity of 2002 which claimed the careers of several actors, the sanity of countless viewers and led to the unspoken but universally understood agreement that no television show would be made in Birmingham for a thousand years.1 So when a transgenerational, multi-ethnic, diffra-sexual orientation family sitcom representing the family unit zeitgeist surfaces it is natural to want to cut the writer’s hair off and fuck him with a broomstick. This would be premature2 as Modern Family kind of nails it.
"Phil who is how Michael Scott from the US version of The Office would be if he was ever funny. They have three kids, a spod, a mong and a fox. The fox Sarah Hyland is 19 so anything you may have already thought about her is perfectly OK."
Filmed in documentary style with interviews with the principals punctuating and commenting on the action, Modern Family sets out to show the joys and frustrations of the ever evolving familia Pritchett. Head of the clan is Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) , a late middle-aged curmudgeon married to a deliciously well stacked and much younger Colombian pie Gloria (Sofia Vergara) who comes complete with her tub of guts geek son from a previous relationship Manny (Rico Rodriguez).
Across suburbia, Jay’s daughter Claire (Julie Bowen) runs the Dunphy household with her husband Phil who is how Michael Scott from the US version of The Office would be if he was ever funny. They have three kids: a spod, a mong and a fox. The fox, Sarah Hyland, is 19 in the life that is real so anything you may have already thought about her is perfectly OK.3
" It’s not too cutesy, not too PC, not too wiseass and avoiding those pitfalls in itself deserves a pound and a bear hug."
Jay’s son Mitchell is a gay ginger gentleman who lives with his tub of guts partner Cameron and their adopted Vietnamese baby Lily. Mitchell likes to give inappropriate speeches about homophobia while privately wishing he and the rest of their friends acted just a bit less gay. Cameron, for his part, is a fat queeny queen prone to hissy fits and overreaction. Come on, what did you expect?
They’ve done a really nice job here. The characters are likeable – preposterous but convincing. It’s not too cutesy, not too PC, not too wiseass and avoiding those pitfalls in itself deserves a pound and a bear hug. It feels like an authentic update of the family sitcom and seems totally comfortable in its own skin
Family sitcoms are hard to do well. Talented writers come a cropper trying to avoid being too twee to pee or too cool for school. Modern Family stretches itself over three generations, diverse characters and multiple dynamics and make it seem effortless. It’s not Malcolm in the Middle yet and it will never be Arrested Development but it is very good. Bottom line? If you havenae, you should.
The verdict on Modern Family: Could run and run.
Marks out of 10: 8
1 Writer Stephen Knight went on to pen the Oscar-nominated script for Eastern Promises which goes to show we all have those "learning" projects where we make a big fuck up of everything. Everyone except Aerial Telly, that is, who was born with a Grammy in his hand, sent a Native American to accept his Academy Award for Most Magnificent Bastard with his first breath and handed in his first soiled nappy as his BAFTA acceptance speech.
2 Fuck you. Every fuck you ever have will finish prematurely you scum sucking piss gargler.
3 Fuck you. Nothing you ever think or do about a girl is "OK" with Aerial Telly.
Imagined: Friday, April 2, 2010