TV Review: Modern Family

Finally, a show with some wiggle room. “Modern Family,” a comedy about three generations of the Pritchett clan, tackles parenthood, childhood, and coupledom with humor, poignancy, and refreshingly little desperation. With charming interpretations of family dynamics and skillful use of stereotypes, “Modern Family” exudes the confidence of a subject matter than is endlessly fruitful.Filmed as a mockumentary, the show is dotted with “interviews” with the show’s three couples.The Pritchetts’ patriarch is Jay, a slightly-jaded, sore-jointed 60-something with a fondness for velour sweatsuits. Jay has snagged a beautiful, young wife, Gloria, a stereotypical “feisty Latina,” whose accent and sexiness are accentuated in the name of comedy. Gloria is an adoring mother to her wise-beyond-his-years 11-year-old son, Manny. Chubby and tenderly idealistic, Manny is a passionate little fellow with a clear sense of right and wrong. After only six months of marriage, Jay, Gloria, and Manny are getting their bearings as a family. As viewers, we reap the awkward reward.Exhibit B is Claire Dunphy, Jay’s type-A daughter, her husband Phil, and their brood of three. Phil is essentially kid number four, proud to be a “cool dad” who knows the hip lingo and how to text. In reality, Phil is borderline delusional—his children are less than impressed when he performs the song and dance from High School Musical. He calls his daughter’s love interest “playa,” and offers him a fist bump. When Luke, the youngest Dunphy, accidentally shoots his sister with his plastic BB gun, Claire forces Phil to shoot him back per a deal made when she agreed that he could have the toy. Within the Dunphy clan alone, there is something for everyone.Rounding out the Pritchetts are Mitchell, his boyfriend Cameron, and their recently-adopted Vietnamese infant, Lily. Mitchell is neurotic and self-conscious, averse to being tokenized as “the gay couple” in any situation. Cameron is a pink-clothes-wearing, dance-loving, flamboyant gay man that adores Meryl Streep. “Modern Family” is successful because it is relatable. Using three intertwined stories and characters in varying phases of life gives the show versatility. The humor isn’t contrived but rather a comedic expression of the realities of everyday family life. With adolescent angst, whipped husbands, mid-life crises, and a flamboyant drama queen with a love of classic Disney movies to work with, it’s hard to go wrong.The show’s attempts at poignancy are where it could veer off course, but thus far that concern has been defied. In its gentlest moments, the authenticity of the characters is palpable.You can catch “Modern Family” on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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