I just watched a scene in Modern Family that was sort of a revelation for me, and part of the reason I decided to write this post.
Phil, the goofy father, has been wearing a sweatshirt all day that has been described to him as “something a teenage girl would wear to the beach.” He’s taken flack for it the whole episode, but swears by it anyway.
In the final scene, Phil is on the phone and casually walks by a girl wearing the same thing. I thought to myself “huh, what a subtle joke. That was something Arrested Development might have done.”
But then Phil stops walking, puts the phone in his mouth, takes off the sweatshirt, and throws it in the garbage can, hammering home the joke that the show must have thought people would miss.
You know what though? It’s still funny, and I’ve finally realized what my problem was initially with Modern Family. Not every show has to be Arrested Development. I keep viewing comedies through that prism, judging them on such an absurdly high standard that I’ll always be disappointed. It’s like walking by an incredibly pretty girl on the street and saying “Pffft, well she’s no Adriana Lima!”
Or Sarah Hyland. Yow!
So with the Arrested Development stick out of my ass, I’m happy to say that I’ve picked up Modern Family again, and appreciate it on its own merit. I desperately need shows to watch these days, as there’s barely anything on, and my comedy line-up is restricted to NBC Thursdays and FX.
Modern Family is just a relief from the types of things I usually watch. I’m used to plowing through ten seasons of Smalllville, six of Lost, eight of 24. These are massive commitments, and though good, require a lot of brainpower to keep track of and appreciate.
While working my way through months worth of The Wire might be like consuming a five course meal, watching Modern Family is like eating a few chocolate chip cookies. Not everything has to be an epic comedic tale with interweaving jokes and meta-messages. The fact is the show is pretty smart, and though it can be a bit obvious at times, it’s completely non-offensive to my comedic sensibilities once I just take it for what it is.
It sort of reminds me of the types of shows I used to watch back in the day when Full House, Family Matters and Home Improvement were my staples. None of those were particularly brilliant for their time (as opposed to say, Seinfeld), but they were enjoyable enough for casual viewing.
One of TV’s best couples if you ask me.
Modern Family rarely makes me laugh outright (the exception being Cam, who may be the funniest character on TV right now), but it’s simple, enjoyable and good TV in a sea of awfulness that is most network comedies.
Ways it could improve? More Sarah Hyland, mm mmm! Oh don’t get mad, she’s 20 in real life. Phil really grew on me, going from annoying idiot to lovable buffoon. Claire is a bit severe, but I suppose that’s her role. Gloria is great eye candy, but she can be a bit grating if given too much screen time. Cam and Mitchell? Never change.
I will bring up one more point of pressing concern before I go however. I’ve watched about 35 episodes of this show now, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen baby Lily smile once, or frankly do anything other than sit there with a confused look on her face. I’m starting to get legitimately worried about the young actress, who I’m informed is actually following in the footsteps of the Olsens, and is played by twins.
Behold, the sorrow of childhood.
Yes, she’s cute, but think of how integral to the show and lively Michelle Tanner was even at a young age. I’m worried this kid (these kids) might have autism or some other personality issue, because I’ve never seen one ounce of emotion out of that girl in two seasons. If nothing changes as she gets older, I would recommend finding another Asian tot for season three who’s a bit more energetic and capable of doing, well, anything on camera.
Alright, I’m off to finish season two. Watch this show if you’re not already.