Over the last decade, only a few noteworthy half-hour comedies have had their initial orders extended, as people seem more interested in investigative procedurals or primetime medical soap operas. Not having an excess of time to watch every new show, I usually opt for dramas – this is a result of some nonsensical bias towards more “serious” viewing. With the advent of Hulu, however, half-hour comedies (~23 minutes with Hulu commercials) are ideal for lunch viewing.
This fall’s best new comedy is Modern Family on ABC. The show follows three families, each “unique” in its own way. The show is not original: the dysfunction and quick quips are from Arrested Development, the mockumentary filming style is borrowed from The Office, and the general awkwardness is shared with most critically-acclaimed comedies that air/have aired during the soon-to-be-ending naughts. It is, however, executed well. The show is easier to follow than Arrested Development, which should help its audience numbers: the idiosyncrasies of its characters are more grounded, the dialogue is less manic, and the feel-good moments seem more genuine. The ensemble cast, headed by Ed O’Neill (who has enough experience in family sitcoms) as the patriarch, is cohesive throughout the first five episodes; these have focused more on the parents/grandparents, with the younger generation used to set up episodic story-arcs. The writers should be commended for distributing nuggets of wisdom and wackiness evenly amongst the characters.
This show is a good follow-up to my five-week summer vacation, which was mostly spent with family in multiples locales in Canada and the United States. During some of the cringe-worthy moments of the show, I’ve thought, “Oh, wait… This is like that time when…” Most people think I’m insane for enjoying the continuous blocks of time with the family, but it’s usually a good time when we get together. As we age, I think we realize that it’s important to take advantage of the increasingly rare times we see each other. Especially when these times include multiple bottles of champagne.