5 Thoughts On: ABC’s Modern Family
2: There is something just thoroughly Disney about the entire production, particularly in the way that it so meticulously nuzzles up to Edge without actually becoming Edgy. It seems like every aspect of the program is timed to be exactly five years behind the cultural curve- fresh enough that the mainstream still finds its ideas vaguely new, but also sufficiently rehearsed elsewhere (cable, movies etc.) to avoid pressing any real hot buttons.
3: Exhibit A: Mitchell and Cameron, a gay couple whose presence within the larger family structure has been normalized in a fashion not yet entirely common in American popular culture. Just the same, it’s rare to get a scene in which their gayness is not remarked upon and played for either laughs or sighs. Five to ten years ago this may have pushed the envelope ever so slightly, potentially turning off a larger segment of the viewing population. Now it has just a vague effervescence of hipness. A theme park simulcrum of queer relationships seen of cable tv and in independent cinema.
4: Exhibit B: The single-camera, mockumentary format. If you’re accustomed to Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, there’s definitely something different and potentially exciting about the somewhat looser, slightly more improvised feel of Modern Family. Of course you’ve almost certainly been primed with at least a little bit of The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Waiting for Guffman etc. In comparison to those examples of the genre, Modern Family feels restrained and the apparent improvisations seem disappointingly well-crafted. It’s as though other programs have blazed ahead, clearing enough periphery brush to set up camp a few miles out from the Traditional Sitcom, but still shielded safely away from the wilderness of New.
5: Is anyone’s favorite family on the show not Jay, Gloria and Manny? I almost think it would serve the program as a whole better if I liked them less, so as the other two didn’t seem so pedestrian in comparison.