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.