Modern Family is the Best New Comedy of the Season

By Tim Surette

Sep 22, 2009

I hate to use superlatives in headlines, but there's no other way around it. Modern Family has single-handedly restored my faith in network comedies. It's jam-packed with microgags, the characters are wonderfully portrayed, and it's LOL funny with capital Ls and an O.

On the surface, there's nothing striking about Modern Family. It's a mockumentary-style comedy about three families. You've got 1) a "typical" husband and wife with three kids, 2) an older man coupled with a young foreigner who's got a child from a previous marriage, and 3) a gay couple with an adopted Vietnamese baby. Do not let this simple premise fool you: We've seen the pilot, and Modern Family is hysterical.

The humor skews cerebral, with puns, cutaways, and physical jokes (okay, it's not all cerebral) layered one on top of another. The show is free to relentlessly attack the viewer, thanks to producers' choice not to use a laugh track (pro tip: shows with laugh tracks aren't that funny). Modern Family is drawing comparisons -- appropriately -- to Arrested Development and The Office, but it's much funnier than the latter and the jury is still deliberating whether it's in the same class as the former, which was damn close to one of the best comedies, ever.

"It's definitely a unique show and I think if anything, it's more like a Christopher Guest movie," star Jesse Tyler Ferguson said in an interview with TV.com (we'll publish the full interview next week). "It's very subtle and it's full of a lot of heart and real moments."

Ferguson, formerly of The Class, plays Mitchell, one half of the gay couple. And even though Ferguson has boatloads of talent, the cast is so superb that no one really stands out -- except for maybe Ty Burrell (Back To You), who plays Phil, the "normal" husband. Phil is a hybrid of Arrested D.'s Tobias and Gob, and is sure to be the most quoted new comedic character in years. Want to be the cool kid on your block? Start saying "WTF ... why the face?" right now to get a head start.

But if you need a recognizable face to watch the show, look no further than Ed O'Neill, who owned Fox as Al Bundy on Married... With Children way back in the day. This is his comeback role, and his final monologue during the pilot episode perfectly encapsulates what Modern Family is: a hysterical and heartfelt look at the way we treat our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, uncles, grandparents, and -- oh you get the idea.

Modern Family faces stiff competition during the nine o'clock hour -- it's up against Fox's Glee -- so dust off the VCR, get a second television, or use a DVR like a normal human being and make sure you check out Modern Family. Trust me, it'll be worth it. If you don't like it, then we can't be friends.

Modern Family premieres Wednesday September 23 at 9 pm on ABC.

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  • thiswaywilly Oct 22, 2009

    add a comment This is a great show....great writing, Ed O'Neil is wonderful...he's no Erik Estrada...(thank god!) his gay "son in law" is hysterical and his stepson is a real treasure...terrific comic timing..I record it because I hate Cougars ... but I like to have it recorded because I watch it more than once and then make people who drop by watch it.....I hope it lasts and doesn't go the way of Arrested Development..((WHICH WAS THE BEST COMEDY....I HAVE THE COMPLETE DVD SET...BUY IT IF YOU GET A CHANCE!

  • IndianaMom Sep 28, 2009

    I watched it online and liked it very much. I love how Julie Bowen's character is always busy--fixing dinner, folding laundry, etc., while her husband does next to nothing around the house. A lot of women will identify with her. Not me. ;)

  • m3lty Sep 24, 2009

    can't wait to see this!

  • rayality Sep 23, 2009

    this is a must watch! Great to see Ed O'Neil back in comedy!

  • IndianaMom Sep 23, 2009

    Sounds great! I'll check it out. I watch Glee online anyway, since my family would throw me out if I tried to watch it with them.

  • KingofIPirates Sep 23, 2009

    Guess I'll tune in.

  • SheenaBalthazar Sep 23, 2009

    I really enjoyed the pilot. Still surprised ABC picked it up. Bravo! With this and FlashForward there is hope for them.

  • moonlightenvy Sep 23, 2009

    This show looks interesting, I just wish it wasn't up against SVU

  • HairyLegs4U Sep 23, 2009

    I miss Arrested...sniff! -- but glad to hear there is something comparable on the way to our tv screens! The problem with really good comedy (unlike drama) like these two is that the viewer can't be LAZY when they watch it -- which is why I think Arrested never did as well as it should have ratings-wise, but a smaller group of active viewers loved it with an undying passion.

  • TvFreak7 Sep 23, 2009

    Wait. The Best New Comedy is on ABC and not on CBS?! lol.

    I've seen the pilot and it was really good. Let's see how the ratings are. It does have DWTS as a lead in. I hope Modern Family and Cougar Town both premiere big.