If there’s one thing I’ll always take advantage of, it’s having any excuse to post a picture of Sofia Vergara.
I first discovered her years ago, when she was a guest on the old Howard Stern radio show, which was being filmed and broadcast on the E! Channel. I have been a fan ever since. If you want to know what My Ideal Woman would look like, there you go.
So, naturally, when I heard about this new TV series that she was starring in, I had to check out the premier, just because she was in it. That doesn’t mean to say that I would watch it, even if I didn’t enjoy it, just because of her (I stayed away from her last series, “The Knights of Prosperity” , because the premise just didn’t interest me), but I would at least give the show a chance, that I likely would not have otherwise, due to the fact that I barely watch any network TV, and certainly not any sitcoms, anymore.
Well, after watching the first episode, I’m certainly glad that I gave it a shot. It is a very entertaining show. The theme centers around three families. It starts with Jay, a fifty-something year old White man, married to a younger Colombian woman named Gloria (played by Vergara), who has an 11 year old son, named Manny. Next is Jay’s adult daughter, Claire, who is married to Phil, and has three children, son Luke and daughters Haley and Alex. And then there is Jay’s adult son, Mitchell, an openly gay man living with his husband, Eric, and their adopted infant Vietnamese daughter, Lily.
The three families apparently live in the same neighborhood, or at least close enough to where they can interact with each other on a frequent basis (Jay’s stepson Manny and Claire’s son Luke are shown to go to the same school, where in one episode they get into a fight over Manny’s insistence that he is Luke’s “uncle”).
The show is not a traditional “sitcom,” in that there is no laugh-track, or studio audience, and it is filmed on location, not on a studio set. And it is filmed single-camera, as if it’s a documentary. In fact, there are regular breaks throughout the show in which various characters are speaking directly to the camera, as if they are being interviewed, talking about whatever is going on in that episode. No explanation is given for these segments, with no acknowledgment of them during the other parts of the show, but it works as a plot device.
What’s great about this show is that it’s really like three shows in one. All three families could support their own show, if necessary. Jay and Gloria have the conflict of age and cultural differences, giving a slight “I Love Lucy” vibe to their relationship, and there are Jay’s ongoing attempts to bond with his new young stepson, which doesn’t always work.
Mitchell and Eric are sort of like the classic “Odd Couple,” with Mitchell being a bit more straight-laced (no pun intended), while Eric is a tad rough around the edges. With see them dealing with being new parents, with an infant, including one episode where they freak out after accidentally bumping the baby’s head on the ceiling, and then locking her in their car.
Claire and Phil are the most traditional “sitcom family,” both dedicated to teaching their children values, albeit with slightly different methods. Claire was apparently a bit of a wild child as a teenager, and wants to set a firm example for her children, while Phil is more interested in being a friend to his kids, and tries to relate to them on that level, and very much wants to be known as one of those “cool dads,” despite being tragically un-cool. Another recurring theme is Phil’s attempts to win the approval of his Father-in-Law Jay, whom he feels has never really accepted him.
So each episode will have a storyline (or two) for each family, that all usually end up interconnecting in some way. The great thing about the show is that, it’s clear that everyone in this family loves each other, despite their various differences. And the show doesn’t go for the cheap laugh. Various comments get made about the ethnic difference between Jay and Gloria, for instance, but it’s not broad racial humor. Similarly, the fact that Mitchell and Eric are homosexual is acknowledged, but it’s not an overriding factor of the characters, these things are just part of who they are, but the characters are more well-rounded than just that.
Particular stand-outs on the show are Ed O’Neil as Jay, he has totally outgrown the shadow of all Al Bundy, Julie Bowman and Ty Burrell as Claire and Phil, and all of the child actors on the show, who do a fantastic job in their roles as the various children, who often seem as if they are better adjusted than their parents. In short, I highly recommend this program, as it is a very entertaining half-hour show. I enjoy it very much, and the fact that it lets me see Sofia Vergara every week is just a plus.
Modern Family airs Wednesday nights on ABC, 9pm PST. Episodes can be watched online here: