Don’t ask me why, but I received an invitation to catch an advanced screening online of the pilot for the upcoming ABC sitcom Modern Family, a series about three..well, modern families. I’m not going to spoil a whole lot out of courtesy, but I will give a brief overview, and my thoughts on it. Because that’s what I do.
Modern Family follows the life of three different families. The format includes interviews with the parents on their couches, followed by watching them in action. This part is at least a good premise, and one of the ways to connect the three groups.
Phil and Claire have three children, two daughters and a son. The first time we see the eldest daughter, 15, she’s wearing a very, very high cut skirt. The kind I see at dance clubs, and I don’t attend all-ages clubs. The mother is less than thrilled, but the dad just says it’s cute. Does anyone have a father like that? Yes, Phil thinks he’s a hip dad just because he knows all the lingo and wants to be the kids’ friend. All he does is pretty much embarrass the kids. Claire remembers her “wild days” and feels it is her mission to keep them from making the same mistakes, so she’s a bit overprotective. Except that the rather dunderhead of a son gets punished for accidentally hitting his younger brainiac sister with a BB gun, which does lead to the only laugh out loud moment in the show. Sorry, LOL. I want to be hip like Phil.
Jay and Gloria are a May/December romance. We don’t learn (unless I missed it) what happened to his wife or her husband (we hear about the first husband, and not giving anything away we do know he was married), but Gloria has a son from her marriage, a poet at heart. Gloria is from Latin America and a stereotype of same (some of the commentors on the page compared her to Charo, but Gloria doesn’t shake her bosoms around like Jell-O in an earthquake), hotheaded and also overly protective of her son. Ed O’Neil plays an Ed O’Neil character, sort of a less vulgar Al Bundy, except his family actually likes him. Outside of the kids, probably the only character that didn’t make me cringe once.
Mitchell and Cameron represent the obligatory gay couple, and one commentor compared them to Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. However, this wasn’t as funny, as William and Lane were supposed to be flamboyant like that. Cameron is gayer than Luke Sissyfag. (Seriously, some guy ran around calling himself that in the 90’s.) Mitchell is a bit concerned about how they appear to other people, and is a bit self-conscious about how gays are perceived. I tuned out his “speech” aboard the plane they took back after adopting a child from Vietnam. (Everybody’s doing it. It’s the new craze, right Angelina?)
Look, I enjoyed the character of Mr. Humphries in the BBC series Are You Being Served? and while The Birdcage isn’t my kind of movie, I can see how the Williams/Lane characters are amusing. (And I’m a Conservative Christian, which shows you how “popular” I am at the aforementioned dance club. 🙂 Sometimes you have to boogie. ) However, I would think these two would be found insulting by the gay community, so for their sake I hope the characters (or at least the portrayal) evolves as the series goes on. We’re supposed to find them funny. I didn’t.
All in all, I really wasn’t impressed with the pilot. The grown-ups are over the top in a bad way. The kids are kind of funny, and I might watch a show based around them rather than questionable parenting skills and overt stereotypes. I really can’t recommend this series, but you can decide for yourselves when the series drops this fall on ABC.