ABC's new half-hour sitcom Modern Family premiered last night, and it was even funnier than I had expected. I always am more prone to like a comedy that's single-camera, and laugh-track free, but last night's episode packed joke after joke into this format. A lot of very dry one-liners, interspersed with absurd cutaways make this show land somewhere between Arrested Development and The Office (UK). More towards the latter, though, in tone.
One facet of the show is an older man and his beautiful younger wife raising her son from a previous marriage, the delightfully passionate Manny. Another is a a wife, haunted by memories of her wild-child youth in terms of what it means for her 15 year-old daughter and two younger children, trying to balance out her husband whose constant obsession with being the cool dad brings embarrassment to the whole family. Finally, there is a gay couple who has just adopted a Vietnamese daughter. The one trait that unites all of these parents is that they are all just trying so hard and their efforts are always aimed squarely next to the mark.
I really really want people to watch this show. Not only do I think it has the potential to be a consistently funny refuge from the multi-camera drivel that dominates the sitcom ratings, but I think it is a wonderful thing to have a more accurate representation of what an American family looks like on TV. We all love Mad Men, but most families do not resemble the Drapers, for good or for ill. I wish I could convey in this review the nature of more of the show's jokes, but I'm afraid without the proper framing, my retelling would fall flat. Modern Family airs at 9pm on Wednesdays on ABC, and you can watch the pilot on abc.com.