Sophie's Choice has nothing on this. How can you pick a favorite character from ABC's ensemble comedy Modern Family? The show has managed the near impossible: There are no throwaway characters, the kids are just as developed as the adults, and everyone is a threat for best one-liner ever.
So because this is the internet and we feel like we have to rank everything, I'm going to give this question a shot by separating Modern Family's characters into three tiers. But this isn't just a story about who I like and where I rank 'em, it's the beginning of an open discussion to find out where the general consensus is. Do your part and let your preferences be known in the comments section, below.
And Lily obviously gets her own God category, so she's off the list.
Amazing CharactersMitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson)
As the "regular" half of TV's reigning Odd Couple, Mitchell currently holds the title of TV's best straight man (sure, pun intended, why not?). His actions aren't necessarily what make us laugh; his reactions to other people's actions are his true forte. Ferguson is a master of the eye roll and the stifled laugh. And is anyone else more fun to watch squirm in an uncomfortable situation?
Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell)
He's part Buster Keaton, part Mr. Bean. Phil's cluelessness and klutziness are a big draw for the show, but they don't seem tacked on. It's easy to call him a one-trick pony, and yes, the show's writers occasionally focus only on his goofiness, but he's also earnest and empathetic. Everyone knows a guy like Phil, and everyone loves that guy.
Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould)
The spawn of dimwitted Phil and cautious Claire inherited no genes from his mom's side. He's the classic archetype of the dumb kid, done to perfection. Luke may be little more than a walking wrecking ball, but like his dad, many of his hare-brained actions (like sliding a tray of soda under the bathroom door for his mom) come from the heart.
Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill)
Somehow, the elder statesman of the clan also seems to have retained the most marbles. Jay is arguably the viewers' eyes into this functioning family full of fools. For me, it's all about O'Neill's timing and the look on his face when he wants to throw his hands up in the air and be done with it all.
Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet)
Yeah, yeah, you have him in your top tier, I know. And that's fine. In fact, he just barely missed the Amazing category in my book. Why? He's the requisite "let's give this guy the quirky thing to do!" character. Stonestreet's great as Cam and I love him to death, but the dramatic thing wears thin sometimes.
Gloria Delgado-Pritchett (Sofia Vergara)
I had Vergara winning the Supporting Emmy this year (she lost to Glee's Jane Lynch), because I think she's done wonders with a role that is basically a female Ricky Ricardo. I'd hoped that for this season she'd be used more than just for making fun of her accents and talking about how she was raise in a small Colombian village. Still, Vergara is fantastic, and mixing Gloria with other characters always leads to unexpectedly hilarious results.
Manny Delgado (Rico Rodriguez)
It seems most people either love or hate this kid. Personally, I dig him. He's a four-foot-tall Don Juan who drinks more coffee than all of Seattle. But little has changed since with Man-Man since he got to pose for a picture of himself as an old time sheriff. I say give him a girlfriend and make him freak out about the relationship; that'll rejuvenate the character.
Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter)
There's so much potential here, but she's not used like she could be. Right now Alex is relegated to the smart-aleck remarks she makes while she's reading a book or exiting a room with her laptop under her arm. Winter is great, but she needs more behind her character's story. It's been a long time since we saw her chatting with Gloria about not being the pretty girl, all the back in early Season 1.
Characters That Need Some Work
Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen)
She's the family buzzkill. Don't get me wrong, she's absolutely essential to the show as the foil to Phil. But is she really that funny? It's only when she comes out of her shell (fake figure-skating in the parking lot with Mitchell) that I really care for her.
Hayley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland)
Do any of us really know who Hayley is yet? She's constantly confined to her room or texting on her phone and hasn't really shown us anything at all. When she does make an appearance, she's just whining to Claire and Phil. If my teenage daughter turns out like this, I'm shipping her off to military school.
So who's your favorite Modern Family character? I'm choosing Mitchell, with the gay straight man role edging out the lovable doofus role and the flamboyant gay man role. Name your own fave in the comments!
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom