Modern Family: Season 2 created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (20th Century Fox Television and Lloyd-Levitan Productions)
Starring Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Eric Stonestreet.
Base Humor, Smart Writing
Disclaimer: Modern Family is my favorite comedy on television at the moment. Where most sit-coms repeat tired scripts of “character A” lying to “character B” with hilarity ensuing, the writers of Modern Family connected low brow humor with humorous references that required a certain amount of intelligence. Stated differently, this show is the unusual comedy that mixes base humor with smart writing.
Although the consistency of each episode varies from week to week, Season 2 of Modern Family reminds me of Seinfeld in its prime. Quite often, the “A,” “B,” and “C” storylines build off of each other in such a way that when they connect at the end, the result is both hilarious and clever.
Chinks in the Armor
Yet, I found some chinks in the armor of this acclaimed show that offer some worrying signs for the future. Interestingly, these cracks involve narrow character development in each family.
Cam and Mitchell
First, and most distressing, our favorite homosexual couple, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), too often meandered from episode to episode attempting to impress person after person in the highest social classes; it is as if a homosexual family can only exist in affluence. Despite some excellent scenes, such narrow writing denies the necessary growth these characters need in this series as they try to raise an adopted child in this urban context.
Second, the patriarch of the family, Jay Pritchett (played by Ed O’Neill) mostly tries to avoid his family. Even though some of his best quips occur during his passive annoyance, too often his storyline orbits around an annoying family member and a realization that he loves them despite the annoying quality.
The Dunphy Family
Lastly, the Dunphy, family headed by Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell), frequently teeters on the cusp of chaos. While it is plausible that a family could be this disorganized, it seems like this family trait exists mostly for its comedic value. Of course, the Dunphy family provides Modern Family with some of its funniest moments. Yet, this one-dimensional narrative technique, in addition to the worrying qualities in the other families, offers worrisome signals for the future of the franchise.
Nevertheless, I really like Modern Family. If you want to laugh and have yet to watch this show, ignore my critiques and start with Season 1. If you just finished Season 2, do you also see some of these worrying writing preferences?