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The not-so-typical family comedy

By Arrien Davison

ArtsPost Staff Writer

“Modern Family” may seem familiar with its mocumentary structure that mirrors30 Rock” and familiar faces from other family comedies, Ed O’Neill from “Married…with Children.” But this new comedy is in a league of its own. The show is quite complex, the story of one big family with a host of characters. It may seem difficult to follow along with eight main characters, but under the guidance of veteran producers Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd the show flows effortlessly from one funny punch line to the next. Levitan and Lloyd produced comedic hits such as “Wings”, “Frasier” and “Just Shoot Me!” So it’s no surprise that “Modern Family” is a hysterical hit in only its first season.

The show gives viewers a taste of three different types of families. The first is the winter-spring combination played by Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara, as Jay and Gloria. O’Neill is best known as Al Bundy, but “Modern Family” viewers will now see him in a new light. He is a sophisticated older gentleman trying to balance being a grandfather and a newlywed to a sultry Latina more than 25 years his junior. In previous roles, Vergara may have been seen as simply the “hot chic,” but this show really puts her comedic timing on display. In every episode it is funny to watch her attempt to turn her older husband into a romantic lover. This household also includes Gloria’s 10-year-old son from a previous marriage, Manny. This child is wise beyond his years and takes the typical awkward, chunky kid to a new plateau.

The second household is that of Jay’s adult daughter and her family. Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell play Claire and Phil. They are the more common television types, suburban parents with three kids. But Claire is not your typical housewife, she is totally in charge. Phil may make the money, but he knows who really wears the pants in the family. He is a complete goofball who is constantly trying to convince everyone, during his talks to the camera, that he is hip and the coolest dad on the block.  But his children are embarrassed by him most of the time.

The third household may be the funniest of them all. It consists of Jay’s son, his partner and their adopted Vietnamese daughter. Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cameron and Mitchell, are in a constant, laugh-out-loud struggle to fit into straight society. Cameron is a stay at home dad who takes the baby to playgroups and toddler parties and does his best to fit in with the rest of the moms. Mitchell is a strong willed attorney constantly trying to convince his dad, Jay, that his being gay is not an embarrassing factor. The two move beyond the stereotypical gay characters seen on other shows and show what it’s like to be a real family, but with a twist.

“Modern Family” is on the road to becoming a smash hit sitcom because it offers something for every one.

“Modern Family” airs Wednesday’s on ABC at 9 p.m.