Modern Family


Modern Family
Modern Family
Modern Family Title.svg
Genre Sitcom
Mockumentary
Created by Christopher Lloyd
Steven Levitan
Starring Ed O'Neill
Sofía Vergara
Julie Bowen
Ty Burrell
Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Eric Stonestreet
Sarah Hyland
Ariel Winter
Nolan Gould
Rico Rodriguez
Aubrey Anderson-Emmons
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 55 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Steven Levitan
Christopher Lloyd
Location(s) Los Angeles
Camera setup Film; Single camera
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Lloyd-Levitan Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Original run September 23, 2009 (2009-09-23) – present
External links
Official Website

Modern Family is an American television comedy series created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan, which debuted on ABC on September 23, 2009. Lloyd and Levitan serve as showrunner and executive producers, under their Levitan-Lloyd Productions label. Depicted in mockumentary style, the fictional characters talk directly into the cameras during many situations that arise throughout the series.

Lloyd and Levitan conceptualized the series while sharing stories of their own "modern families." The series premiered to critical acclaim and was watched by 12.61 million viewers.[1][2] Early on, it was named as a big contender for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards.[3] Soon after, the series was picked up for a full season on October 8, 2009.[4][5] On January 12, 2010, Modern Family was renewed for a second season by ABC.[6]

The series has received positive reviews from critics and received multiple award nominations. The series has won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series twice so far.[7][8] The syndication rights to the show have also been sold to USA Network and 10 Fox affiliates for a fall 2013 premiere.[9][10][11] The success of the show has also led it to being the sixteenth highest revenue earning show for 2010, earning $1.6 million an episode.[12] On January 10, 2011, Modern Family was renewed for a third season, [13] which premiered with a one-hour special on September 21, 2011.[14]

Contents

Production

Conception

As Lloyd and Levitan retold stories about their families, it occurred to them that that could be the basis for a show. They started working on the idea of a family being observed in a mockumentary style show. They later decided it could be a show about three families and their experiences.[15] The show was originally called My American Family.[16] Originally, the camera crew would be run by a fictitious Dutch filmmaker named Geert Floortje who had lived with Jay's family as a teenage exchange student and developed a crush on Claire (while Mitchell had a crush on him), but decided against it.[17] The creators pitched it to three of the four major networks (they did not pitch it to Fox due to problems Lloyd had with the network with Back to You).[18] CBS, not ready to use the single-camera style of filming, nor ready to make another large commitment, did not accept the series. NBC, already having two shows—The Office and Parks and Recreation—with a mockumentary format, decided against accepting the show until the success of the other two series' decreased. ABC accepted the series and picked it up for a full season.[18]

Pickup

The series quickly became a priority for ABC after the pilot episode tested high with focus groups, resulting in the network ordering 16 episodes and adding it to the 2009–2010 fall lineup days ahead of ABC's official schedule announcement.[19][20][21] The series was given a full season pickup on October 8, 2009.[4][5] On January 12, 2010, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson announced that Modern Family had been renewed for a second season.[22] A third season was ordered by ABC on January 10, 2011.[13] The series was also picked up for syndication by USA during the first season for 1.5 million dollars and to 10 Fox affiliates during the second season.[9][10][11][23] The series airs in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland on Sky1.[24] The series is shown in Australia on Channel 10 which is known for replaying American TV shows. The series premiered in India on Star World, a bit late, on 4th November 2010 and was received enthusiastically. The series is also shown in South Africa on M-net channel 101.

Crew

Lloyd-Levitan Productions and 20th Century Fox Television produce the series with the show's creators, Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan as show runner and executive producer. Lloyd and Levitan previously worked on Frasier, Wings, Just Shoot Me, The Wonder Years.[16] The first team of writers consisted of Paul Corrigan, Sameer Gardezi, Joe Lawson, Levitan, Lloyd, Dan O'Shannon, Brad Walsh, Caroline Williams, Bill Wrubel, and Danny Zuker.[25] The first team of directors included Jason Winer, Michael Spiller, Randall Einhorn, and Chris Koch. Winer has directed nineteen episodes of the series, making him the most prolific director of the series.[26]

Cast and characters

Modern Family employs an ensemble cast. The show revolves around three families that are interrelated through Jay Pritchett and his children, Claire Dunphy and Mitchell Pritchett. Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill), the patriarch, is in a relationship with a younger woman, Gloria (Sofía Vergara), a passionate[27] mother, who, with help from Jay, raises her son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez). Claire (Julie Bowen) is a homemaker mom married to Phil (Ty Burrell) a real estate agent and self-professed cool dad; they have three children: Haley (Sarah Hyland), the stereotypical teenager,[28] Alex (Ariel Winter), the smart middle child[29] and Luke (Nolan Gould), the offbeat only son.[30] Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), a lawyer, and his partner Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) have adopted a Vietnamese baby, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons).

The series has also had several recurring characters. Reid Ewing appeared in several episodes as Haley's boyfriend, Dylan.[31] Fred Willard has guest starred as Phil's father Frank Dunphy and later went on to be nominated at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, but lost to Neil Patrick Harris's performance on Glee.[32] Shelley Long has appeared in both seasons as Claire and Mitchell's biological mother and Jay's ex-wife, DeDe Pritchett.[33][34] Nathan Lane appeared twice during the second season as Cameron and Mitchell's flamboyant friend, Pepper Saltsman.[35][36][37]

Family tree

The characters in green have regular roles on the show. Dotted lines indicate a parental relationship through adoption or marriage, and dashed lines indicate a divorce between characters.

Javier Delgado Gloria Delgado-Pritchett Jay Pritchett DeDe Pritchett Sarah Dunphy Frank Dunphy
Manny Delgado Cameron Tucker Mitchell Pritchett Claire Dunphy Phil Dunphy
Lily Tucker-Pritchett Haley Dunphy Alex Dunphy Luke Dunphy

Episodes

The series premiered September 23, 2009 in the 9:00pm ET timeslot. Soon after, the series was picked up for a full season of 24 episodes on October 8, 2009.[4][5] On January 12, 2010, Modern Family was renewed for a second season by ABC.[6] The second season premiered September 22, 2010, airing in the same timeslot as the previous season.[38] Midway through the second season, ABC renewed the series for a third season.[13] The third season premiered on September 21, 2011 with two back-to-back episodes.[14]

Reception

Critical reception

The first season was met with positive reviews. It received a "universal acclaim" Metacritic score of 86 out of 100.[39] Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, calling it "immediately recognizable as the best new sitcom of the fall".[40] In Time's review, the show was named "the funniest new family comedy of the year".[41] It has also been compared to the 1970s series Soap, in regards to the multiple family aspect, as well as Arrested Development. Some have made comparisons to The Office and Parks and Recreation, due to their mockumentary formats.[42] BuddyTV named the show the second best show in 2009, saying, "Every actor is fantastic, every family is interesting, and unlike many shows, there isn't a weak link".[43] Robert Canning of IGN gave the season a 8.9 saying it was "Great" and called it "Simply put, Modern Family was one of the best new comedies of the season." He also praised the ensemble cast and the characters calling them lovable.[44] According to Metacritic, the first season was the best reviewed new broadcast television series.[45]

Modern Family's outstanding cast continues to impress, and even wobbly episodes reliably supply sharp observations and goofball charm.

– Maureen Ryan, TV Squad[46]

The second and third season received positive reviews much like the first season. Robert Bianco of USA Today gave the new season four stars out of four, saying, "Not since Frasier has a sitcom offered such an ideal blend of heart and smarts, or proven itself so effortlessly adept at so many comic variations, from subtle wordplay to big-laugh slapstick to everything in between."[47] Robert Bianco in a later review stated "as good as it was in its first year, is even better in its second" positively comparing the characters to the characters from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Cosby Show and Friends.[48] During the second season, Adweek named the show one of the 100 Most Influential TV Shows (98th chronologically).[49][50] Despite this, the season received criticism from some critics for a sophomore slump.[51][52] Eric Stonestreet, who received praise during the first season,[53] was criticized during the second season for being too over the top.[54][55] Alan Sepinwall called Cameron Tucker a "whiny, overly-sensitive diva".[54] On the other hand, Ty Burrell has received praise for his performance as Phil Dunphy through both seasons.[56][57][53]

Slant Magazine reviewer Peter Swanson wrote that while the first episode was "the type of wacky-location stunt that's usually reserved for the fifth or sixth season of a dying sitcom", the following episodes "have been better [...] but they're still uneven".[58] He also critiziced the writers for relying too much on "stunt episodes and celebrity cameos, like David Cross".[58] He ultimately gave the season 3 out of 4 stars.[58] James Parker of The Atlantic said, at the beginning of the third season that "Modern Family is very, very funny, almost ruthlessly so ... [It's] a bit of a master class in pace and brevity ... The writing is Vorsprung durch Technik: hectically compressed but dramatically elegant, prodigal in its zingers and snorters but austere in its construction." He found it an exception to his dislike for sitcoms that eschew a laugh track.[59]

Analysis and commentary

In The New York Times, Bruce Feiler called attention to how the show depicts the increasing way communications technology shapes the way people perceive others, even family members. "[It] is surely the first family comedy that incorporates its own hashtag of simultaneous self-analysis directly into the storyline," he writes. "Mark Zuckerberg may be a greater influence on Modern Family than Norman Lear."[60]

The show's writers and actors agree. "We used to talk about how cellphones killed the sitcom because no one ever goes to anyone's house anymore" for routine information, Abraham Higginbotham told Feiler. "We embrace technology so it's part of the story". Ty Burrell draws on Fran Lebowitz's observation that there is no institution other than media. "I had this little flash of Phil—and me—that we are parsing our personality together externally from how people perceive us."[60]

James Parker said that "The American family circa 2011 is, after all, an acutely self-conscious and self-interrogating unit: How does one 'parent'? Who does what, which 'role'? Is Dad sufficiently dad-like and Mom enough of a mom?" he writes. "Modern Family taps right into all this, the cameras that lurch through its three households producing the sensation of a wild and shaky experiment, recorded for purposes educational or scientific."[59]

Criticism and controversy

Modern Family drew criticism from the LGBT community for its portrayal of Cameron and Mitchell as not being physically affectionate with each other. The criticism spawned a Facebook campaign to demand Mitchell and Cameron be allowed to kiss. In response to the controversy, producers released a statement that a season two episode would address Mitchell's discomfort with public displays of affection. Executive producer Levitan has said that it was unfortunate that the issue had arisen, since the show's writers had always planned on such a scene "as part of the natural development of the show."[61] The episode "The Kiss" eventually aired with the kiss scene in the background which drew praise from multiple critics.[62][63]

Awards and recognition

In 2010, Modern Family was nominated with five Television Critics Association Awards. The show gained nominations for best new series, best comedy series and best program of the year, while stars of the program Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofía Vergara and Julie Bowen, were all nominated individually.[64] Like Friends, to reinforce the idea of an ensemble cast, the cast all submitted themselves in the Supporting Actor and Actress categories instead of Lead Actor and Actress for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards.[65] On August 29, 2010, Modern Family won Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (for the pilot episode), and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Eric Stonestreet). The show also later received a GLSEN Respect Award for its portrayal of "positive images and storylines that reflect a diverse America, including the depiction of a family headed by a gay couple. "[66] In 2010, the cast won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy, beating the previous year's winner, Glee.[67] On July 14, 2011, the series received 17 Emmy nominations, the third most nominations for the year after Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire.[68] The awards the series was nominated for include Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.[68] The series has also been put on multiple critics' lists. In 2010, the series was listed on BuddyTV's Top Ten Best Comedy Shows of 2009–2010,[69] 2nd on Time's Top Ten Best shows of 2009,[70] 2nd on BuddyTV's Top Ten Best Shows of 2009,[71] Jason Hughes Best TV of 2009,[72] 10th on BuddyTV's Top 10 Returning Shows We're Most Excited to Come Back,[73] and on TV Guide's Our Favorite Families[74] Modern Family was awarded a Peabody Award in 2009.[75]

Ratings

Since its premiere, the series has remained popular. In its first season, the show became the sixth highest-rated scripted show in America among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, and the third-highest rated new show.[76] Aided by winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, the show's second season became the highest rated show on Wednesday on premiere week[77] and also rose 34% from the previous season among adults between the ages of 18 and 49.[78] The show frequently ranked as television's top scripted series in adults 18-49 as well.[79][80][81] The success of the show has been positively compared to The Cosby Show.[82] During the 2010–2011 season, Modern Family was the highest rated scripted show in the 18-49 demographic, and the third highest rated overall sitcom behind CBS's The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men.[83][84] The season also ranked first among DVR viewers.[85] The third season premiere became ABC's top-rated season premiere in six years.[86] The series success in ratings has also led to the series being credited for reviving sitcoms.[87]

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
Season Timeslot Original airing Rank Viewers
(in millions)
18-49 Nielsen ratings rank 18-49 Nielsen ratings
Season premiere Season finale TV season
1 Wednesday 9/8c[88] September 23, 2009 May 19, 2010 2009–2010 #36[76] 9.39[76] #21[76] 3.9/10[76]
2 September 22, 2010 May 25, 2011 2010–2011 #24[84] 11.89[84] #6[83] 4.9/13[83]
3 September 21, 2011 2012 2011–2012 TBA

References

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