Modern Family

How To Get Away With Half-Hearted Representation

How To Get Away With Murder is taking the US television scene by storm in the new season. However, its fresh take on legal drama is not what’s drawing unique attention. Instead, the uber-conservative cross section of American viewership is up in arms over the ‘controversial’ depiction of passionate gay sex scenes.

It’s utterly absurd that such a programme would obtain censure for what can only be defined as a truthful narrative of how some same-sex pairings engage in intercourse. It’s long been a taboo on television for same-sex affection to be portrayed on equal-footing with heterosexual intimacy. While it’s true that representation of LGBT+ characters and couples has been growing on the American TV scene since the 1980s, it is still lagging far behind with its tackling of physical love. The bold moves to allow Ellen Degeneres’ character to come out on her self-titled sitcom, which then led to gay couples appearing on more recent series such as Glee and Modern Family have helped normalise gay issues but ultimately there is still a large portion of the gay lifestyle that remains discriminatorily alien over the dread of a polemical storm.

Controversy… HTGAWM’s Connor has sex

I suppose you could even be excused for thinking, given the relative success of the latter two shows that LGBT+ acceptance has sky-rocketed to near equal echelons to that of heterosexual couples on the small screen. But that’s hardly the case, while there is a much fairer representation of gay characters on television than ever before, their active sexuality, the only thing that really differentiates them from any other character is fundamentally constrained or regulated. Particularly on American television, homosexual intimacy is generally intimated rather than actually shown. How To Get Away With Murder neglects that tradition and does illustrate indelicate gay sex scenes. And, all too tritely some people aren’t happy about that;

As it happens, these racy gay sex scenes are the same as any we’ve seen with straight couples from US TV shows for years and years. On the big four networks in the States; Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC, we’ve seen numerous TV shows in recent times represent zesty sex; Melrose PlaceGossip GirlScandal and even Friends to name just a few. And that’s just from the top networks, taking others in to account you can add Game of ThronesGirlsMasters of Sex, Sex and the City and the US version of Shameless to the list too. This racy heterosexual content is never perceived as problematic to the viewer as it would be if it was homosexual – and we supposedly live in a tolerant time. I notice that nobody complained about the oral sex scene between a male and female in How To Get Away With Murder‘s pilot episode, or the repeated raunchy sex scenes between straight pairings, but did so when a man kissed another man’s back. Maybe you think that niche programming like The L Word and Queer as Folk should encompass all the gay sex we see on television but is that genuinely representative of modern life?

Inconsistent… Viola Davis’ character’s oral sex scene went largely uncriticised.

It’s even the case with British television too. Just this year on popular soap EastEnders, they introduced a reticent and reserved gay character who flitted from gay character to gay character, as if corresponding sexuality alone is adequate enough to forge a partnership in the LGBT+ sphere. It’s certainly not archetypal of the plural attitude we’ve come to expect of modern media. Come to think of it, does television ever depict confident young gay people on television? Other than Glee’s Blaine, I am struggling to think of one. Homosexuals are as diverse a social cross-section as any but TV seldom reflects that, it seems that most people think as long as gay characters are not being harassed or attacked with bigoted vitriol then they’re being represented equally, but this minimising view is simply not true and simply not enough.

Believe it or not, gay people have sex as zealously as straight people. It’s not good enough to have heterosexual sex shown to be as passionate as network regulators will allow and then relegate homosexual intimacy to passing inference. Television has a crucial part to play in changing culture and should be the driving force to rid gay sex of its taboo label. People may not enjoy watching same-sex pairings go at it on screen, the same way some people won’t appreciate opposite-sex scenes but it’s vital we treat both alternatives on a storytelling par. Any problems viewers have specifically with depictions of gay sex are carrying around an unharnessed homophobia. Television is supposed to mirror life, and sex is as big a part of life for gay people as it is for heterosexuals. Any problem a viewer has with that is their problem and certainly not that of the scriptwriters at How To Get Away With Murder. Of course, if it has become that pertinent an issue, they could always change channels instead of trying to slow the rate of progress to match their own parochial regime.

The Non-Conformist View of TV Characters

When you look at the popular sitcoms; Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory etc., you can instantly say which characters from these respective shows are the most adulated. For instance, I can say with confidence that of the aforementioned shows, Joey Tribbiani, Barney Stinson and Sheldon Cooper are the most popular among the masses. But why does the common viewer find them so engaging?

Popular… Joey is one of TV’s most favoured characters despite his many personality flaws.

If I run with the three characters I’ve already selected then we can see huge flaws in each’s personality. Starting with Joey, he is moronic, selfish and gluttonous. He often acts with little thought for consequence and goes in to Monica & Chandler’s apartment with the sole intention of gorging himself on their inventory.  Barney Stinson is similarly self-centered. He also shows signs of narcissism not to mention his horrendous promiscuity, a characteristic he shares with Joey too. Sheldon is not comparable with either predecessor in that way, but from what I have seen of The Big Bang Theory (which isn’t that much), he is conceited and cold towards people, even his friends. For all their criticisms, these characters each have positives to go with them but it certainly does make you wonder whether the average viewer would warm to them as much if they knew them in real-life. I do actually like Barney’s character for the most part and can see why people are drawn to this larger-than-life, abnormal persona that they present – entertainment. But at the same time, isn’t it kind of irresponsible to promote such negative personality traits?

Authentic… Lynette’s palpable realism is not rewarded in fans.

Like I say, I do like some of these popular characters but in all honesty, I tend to favour the underdogs of television. A list of some of my favourite TV characters in recent times consists of Super Claire Dunphy, Lynette Scavo, Edie Britt, Jane Kerkovich-Williams, Robin Scherbatsky. What do you notice? All female, all usually unpopular. Now, I don’t really think gender has any dictation on my preference of TV character – it’s merely a coincidence. But what I do see from this list is realism. These could all be real people. If I walk down the street, I could easily bump in to one of these characters. I’m not going to come across a suit worshipper, a ridiculously imbecilic lothario or a big-headed physics snob. Personally, I like to be able to relate to the characters on screen, I like to see myself and others in them. Lynette Scavo and Claire Dunphy are frighteningly realistic and could represent 70% of mothers in Western society, something that cannot be said of their eccentric co-stars. Other characters such as Edie Britt and Robin Scherbatsky, although presented as strong independent women have so much depth and vulnerability especially for two shows that rely on comedic elements.

To be frank, I can’t really fathom why these brain-dead, offbeat types are preferred to the brilliantly observed realistic characters on the box. I think you have to appreciate how much harder it is to write a character in a relatable way. It’s easy to exaggerate mannerisms and actions of a character to the point it becomes ridiculous but to pair the dramatic twists and turns of the small screen with believable characters is well and truly skillful. In fact, it’s a surprise in a generation fascinated by reality TV that these characters are less welcomed but maybe it’s because we hate the fact that these characters remind us… of us.

Things I’d Love To See on Modern Family

Cam and Mitch get Married

#Politics… The time is now for TV’s favourite gay couple to tie the knot

It’s the obvious scenario that every Modern Family fan wants and with the overturn of DOMA over the Summer, it’s now a real possibility. The hilarity of Cam’s extravagance combatting with Mitch’s scepticism would prove hysterical! Maybe, Cameron wants a farm themed nuptials and hires strict Claire as the wedding planner? Plus, the big occasions always deliver on Mod Fam. We would also be treated to the return of Merl and Barb Tucker and maybe even get to meet Cam’s sister! It would also be an excuse for Shelley Long to reprise her role as DeDe Pritchett – which is always a delight. I am fairly confident that the writers will make this happen in the next few seasons but I hope they do the right thing and make it Season 5’s finalé with an emotional engagement taking place before the mid-season break.

More Sal and more DeDe

Unexplored… Sal has only ‘properly’ met Cam, Mitch and Lily

In fairness, Modern Family has a pretty good track record of keeping its recurring stars exactly that; recurring. Benjamin Bratt (Javier) and Reid Ewing (Dylan) to name just two examples have appeared sparingly but frequently throughout the series. But two characters we need to see more of are Cam & Mitch’s party crazy BFF, Sal and delusional pest, DeDe Pritchett. It would be fascinating to see how Sal gets on with the rest of the family – especially say Gloria and Claire, whom she has had no chance of interacting with as of yet. And, what is there to say about DeDe? The ways she pushes Claire’s buttons is always a delight to see –  her first appearance in Season one’s ‘Coal Digger’ elevated the episode to ‘classic’ status.

The return of Ethan

Love triangle… Ethan and Dylan briefly battled for Haley in Anaheim.

Remember Ethan? The boy Claire brought along to the family’s Disneyland outing in the hope Haley would take a shine to him. Well, Ethan is played by Sarah Hyland’s real-life boyfriend, Matt Prokop. In a cast, that already thrives from perfect synergy – the reintroduction of Ethan would only bolster that. It would certainly catch Claire unawares when Haley starts dating a ‘good boy’ out of choice. It may also add to the wonderfully banterous relationship Haley shares with Alex, seeing as she too took a shine to Ethan in season three. If Dylan was to return too, it could set up an interesting battle for Haley’s affections – even though, I’m pretty sure we all know who she would pick.

A trip to Colombia… or England

Hola! Hola!… Gloria could give the family a different slant on Colombia

We’ve heard so much about Gloria’s home that it would be nice to finally see it. The extended Dunphy-Pritchett-Delgado clan have had a couple of trips during their four years of screen time. It would be nice for them to visit a place of sentiment to one of the characters. Although, Gloria has expressed her discomfort at taking Jay to Colombia, it would be interesting to see her take control of family affairs for the trip. Maybe, the fairly recent arrival of Fulgencio Joseph will give them a reason to re-visit her roots. Equally so, I’d love to see the family hop over the pond to England. Cam and Mitch briefly visited London in Season 4’s ‘Bringing Up Baby’ but it would be fantastic to see the lot of them in my home country. As I’ve already said, Modern Family’s vacations always provide hilarity.

Spouse swap

Clameron… These two have often clashed

The show builds a lot of its stories on crossovers from characters from each sub family but wouldn’t it be hilarious to see say Cam and Phil swap households? Phil lives with Mitchell for the week while Cam stays at Claire’s and watch how they react to the chaos they bring. I imagine Claire would treat Cameron fairly similarly to how Mitchell already does but Philtchell, as I’m now dubbing them, hasn’t really been explored to a great extent and if we remember correctly, Phil had expressed his curiosity about living with a guy in Season 1’s ‘Airport 2010. Although, I think it would be a genuinely funny move by the writers, it doesn’t seem inkeeping with the realistic way in which the character’s carry themselves and seems synonymous with a dying sitcom struggling for ideas.

Cameron meets Julia Roberts

Drama-queen… Cam is known for his exaggerations when re-telling stories.

“Cam has this crazy theory that if he were straight and Julia Roberts were single – they’d be dating” “It’s not crazy, I met her once at an AIDs walk and our chemistry was palpable.”
Remember that? Well let’s put it to the test! As one of television’s titans, it shouldn’t be too hard for Modern Family to attract a star even as big as Julia Roberts to guest star on the show. Imagine, Cam and Mitchell walking down the street and bumping in to her, only for Julia Roberts to have no recollection of him and subsequently completely dismiss his theory. Maybe, afterwards, Julia has a change of heart after seeing Mitchell gloat or Mitch himself sets out to get Julia to humour Cam after seeing him upset. This is certainly the most inventive thing I’d like to see on the show, but unfortunately it’s less likely.

Lily’s birth mother visits

Curious… Lily questioned her heritage in season four.

Lily has been longing to know about her real mother ever since Cam and Mitch killed a bird and told her she was a princess. Like with Ethan, it would be great for Lily’s birth mother to be played by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons real-life mother, Amy Anderson. Of course, if the writers were ever willing to explore such a dramatic twist in this, a comedy series, it should be to affirm the validity of the family Cam, Mitch and Lily have formed since 2009. Either, Lily rejects her birth mother or simply doesn’t meet her at all. It would certainly be hard to handle and portray comically but if anyone can do it – the incredibly talented writers of Modern Family can.

Why I Love Modern Family

I usually find obsessive fans of anything quite irritating but I have to say that’s rather hypocritical of me. Especially when it comes to Modern Family. I know the show like the back of my hand and given the amount of time I spend watching it, that should be no surprise. After covering the characters, the best episodes, predictions for future seasons and a review of the show as a whole, I was at a loss as to what to write about Modern Family next. So I’ve settled on a shameless list of praise for my favourite TV programme of all-time.

So here are just some of the reasons why I adore it so much.

The Family

Loveable… Modern Family is the sort of programme that makes you wish their life was yours.

In truth, I’m quite a family-orientated person. I spend a lot of time with them and like the extended Pritchett clan, my family is big, loud and loving. My family aren’t quite as hilarious but in a general sense, they do remind me of my loved ones.

It’s actually funny

There have been plenty of comedies to have graced television in the past that have simply not been funny (Scrubs). A lot of sitcoms are simply nice to watch, they’re easy going and they make you snigger occasionally. Whereas, Modern Family is relentless. I often spiral in to fits of laughter watching the programme, even episodes I’ve seen before and not many comedies have made me do that.

The characters

The diversity is fantastic. They’re all very unique and offer different forms of comedy that against all odds, blends very well. I’ve already written about how much I love the characters and I’ve recently update my character ranking so you can view and VOTE on that here; https://thechriswhitingshow.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/modern-family-my-favourite-characters/

It’s very successful but not too popular…

Steamroll… Modern Family has accumulated an average of 4.5 Emmys per season

Sometimes things become a victim of their own hype – thankfully, Modern Family doesn’t. It achieves good ratings in the USA, around the 12 million mark and around 1 million in the UK. It has won a colossal 18 Emmy awards in 4 short years, already surpassing Friends and Seinfeld, leaving it just three behind Cheers. But it isn’t too popular, like the incredibly over-rated, Big Bang Theory. And thankfully, it’s modest fanbase makes it all the more loveable.

The kid stars

I tend to find kids quite awkward to watch in TV shows, because they’re younger they tend to lack awareness and obviously experience of how to behave on camera but you wouldn’t know that with Modern Family’s child stars. From the Pilot, they have performed at the highest level that can be expected. It’s extremely impressive in to just what talented actors Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons and Sarah Hyland (yes, I know she’s not actually a kid) are. And it’s exciting to see where they’ll go from here.

It’s rewatchability

Biggest fan… Inaugural #MOFY of the week, Chris Whiting

Building on what I said earlier, not only is Modern Family, side-splittingly hilarious, it is seemingly ageless too. I’ve cycled through all four seasons on several occasions and even after the thirty seventh viewing, I’m still laughing at the jokes and even noticing a stolen glance or snide remark, I hadn’t noticed previously that makes me laugh even more. A timeless classic, without doubt.

They care about the fans

This summer, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a producer at USA, the network where Modern Family is syndicated, to help promote the show before it airs every weeknight from September 24th. I was tracked down and chosen as an honorary #MOFY , to help build the #MOFYNation. I was even given the inaugural Modern Family fan of the week award and sent a limited edition t-shirt for free! What an honour!

My favourite things

This blog is completely pointless and narcissistic but I feel like I moan a lot in my posts so I thought I’d share the things I really like and give them a bit of praise.

TV Programmes

“Shut up, I win”… Modern Family is my all-time favourite TV programme

1. Modern Family
Okay, maybe I’ve praised this show enough but then again, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of gloating about just how good this programme is. Its brilliantly observed  social commentaries, combined with impeccable writing of various types of humour make it a refreshing change from the average US sitcom. It’s already a classic and easily my all-time favourite TV programme.

2. Friends
Given the fact, I’ve spent my entire life watching re-runs of this show on E4 and now Comedy Central, it would be unfair not to have this among my favourites. Unlike Modern Family, it is a typical US sitcom, it’s just a lot funnier than the others.

3. How I Met Your Mother
Funnily enough, I was sceptical of HIMYM when I first heard of it. I assumed it would be a less-funny ode to Friends. And in all honesty, Friends is funnier but HIMYM’s interesting spin on the plot of an average US sitcom and it’s brilliant gimmicks make it stand out from the rest.

4. Desperate Housewives
I don’t even know why I liked this programme so much. It’s just so interesting, a perfect blend of drama and comedy that’s oddly relatable to every day life. At times, it is completely over-the-top and unrealistic but that can be forgiven when you consider it at its best. If you only watch one season of this show, make sure it’s season one.

Films

The force is with Star Wars… my all-time favourite films

1. Star Wars saga
Being honest, I’m not a big film person. Obviously, there are loads of films that I like but few that really stand out. Other than White Chicks and the Lion King, I struggled to think of anything that could compete with this, so it stands alone. Regrettably, I haven’t seen many of cinema’s modern classics (something I intend on correcting every summer but never do). Anyway, Star Wars is the ultimate sci-fi saga. I spent a lot of my childhood being obsessed with this franchise, meaning I have something like 20 lightsabers stored underneath my bed. It really is a great film, and yes the original trilogy is far better. It still shocks me that some people have never seen these films… and I hate them for it.

Albums

“‘Cause this is Thriller. Thriller night!”

1. Thriller
This is simply put the best album ever made. Featuring so many of MJ’s classsics including Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, The Girl is Mine and Human Nature, you can see why it’s the biggest selling album of all-time and my favourite.

2. Aim & Ignite
Okay, Fun. burst on to the chart scene in Spring 2012, with their hit “We Are Young” taken from their second studio album, Some Nights. While, that album is superb and only just misses out on a spot in the top 5, Fun.’s lesser known predecessor is even better. It’s melodic from start to finish with brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics that really make you think. It’s a shame they didn’t get much recognition for this album too.

3. Fearless
I don’t really care about the stigma attached to picking a Taylor Swift album as one of your favourites. I have a quiet love for country music and she has a well-known talent for song writing. In all honesty, I could have selected either Speak Now or Red to join the top five too but this album is just about her best.

4. Songs About Jane
When you were young, every family had that one album that you played in the car non-stop, every journey. This was ours. It really is brilliant.

5. Rumours
Again, a worldwide recognised classic. My love for this album probably again stems back to my quiet love for country and guitar music. It features many of the bands classics and is hard not to like. Although, funnily enough when I first heard this album, I hated it.

It’s worth noting, these are also my five favourite artists. Honourable mention to S Club 7 for providing the soundtrack of my childhood and yes, I still have a cheeky  S Club party every now and then.

Holiday destinations

Bude-iful… My favourite holiday destination

1. Bude
Ideally, an average looking seaside town in Cornwall is not the place you want to go on holiday. It’s mostly for personal reasons that I’ve picked this as number-one. Nearly everyone has a holiday destination their family goes to often. Bude is that for my family.

2. Los Angeles
Most people say LA isn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. But it really is, the climate, the people and the sights are all incredible. It’s a place you simply have to visit.

3. San Francisco
San Fran is a great city of diversity, it has such a varied nature to it, there are rural areas, coastal areas, Skegness-esque areas and big city areas. Accompanied by the climate which is great too, it’s a must visit. In fact, if it weren’t for the USA’s gun crime problem, the San Andreas fault and its proximity to Yellowstone, I’d move to California in a heartbeat.

4. Canary Islands
Particularly Gran Canaria and Tenerife, these islands are wonderful, just off the coast of Africa, it is always hot and just a great place to be.

Top 25 Modern Family Episodes

Now updated to include Season 5!

34. Goodnight Gracie (Season 4, Episode 24)
“So, dear Alex, who I love so dearly, who’s probably too much like me for her own good, don’t be afraid to break the rules. You never know what might happen.” – Alex 
Everyone flies down to Florida for Phil’s mother’s funeral. Her last wish, to have Phil set her widowed husband Frank up with another woman, puts Claire and Phil at ends. Cam spends time with a few residents of the retirement community and thrives on the gossip-fuelled nature of their relationships. Phil’s mother leaves Alex a lighter that led to her meeting Phil’s father and Alex comes to understand what she meant to her grandmother. Jay runs into the woman he lost his virginity to before shipping off to Vietnam, but she has trouble remembering him from her other conquests. Gloria faces court over an arrest warrant for running a brothel, and brings Mitchell to represent her. A successful day in the courtroom as a posturing lawyer for Gloria and many desperate citizens prompts Mitchell to want to return to working in the courts.

33. Suddenly, Last Summer  (Season 5, Episode 1)
“Sometimes I don’t know if I love how much I fear Claire or fear how much I love her.” – Phil
As gay marriage is legalized in California, Mitch and Cam plan their perfect proposals, not realizing that the other has something planned. Cam calls for the help of Jay and Gloria and Mitch rallies Claire and Phil to help make their evening perfect.

32. Me? Jealous? (Season 3, Episode 14)
“You know, I should probably tell Manny this story. It might help him with that trainwreck, Danielle.” – Cameron
Claire believes that Phil’s new prospective client is inappropriate, but she cannot convince a trusting Phil. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitchell stay with Gloria and Jay, while their house is being fumigated.

31. Australia (Season 5, Episode 20)
“This country’s number one export is hot surfers. I’m not gonna buy the first one I see, I’m still browsing.” – Haley
The family travels to Australia as Phil tries to fulfill his mother’s wish for him to visit the country where he was conceived. Unfortunately, Phil’s attempts to embrace his native land are met by a lot of rejection, while Jay and Claire let work eat into vacation time, and Mitch and Cam get reacquainted with an old friend.

30. Truth Be Told (Season 1, Episode 17)
“All because he called you a dork-to-dork salesman?” “The Empire Strikes Back.” – Alex
Phil meets an old girlfriend on Facebook. Jay accidentally kills Manny’s turtle. Mitchell tells his boss the truth. 

29.  Fizbo (Season 1, Episode 9)
“I’m Fizbo, the ass-kicking clown” – Cameron
When Phil and Claire try to throw a party for Luke, things go wrong and leads to a trip to the emergency room; Cameron decides to dress up as his clown character Fizbo; Manny has a hard time impressing a girl after taking advice from Jay.

28.  Las Vegas (Season 5, Episode 18)
“Vegas, you have a gambling problem – and her name is Claire.” – Claire
The adults take a trip to Vegas in which Jay tries to obtain the best room. Claire rekindles her gambling addiction while Cam attends Mitch’s ex’s bachelor party. Gloria tries to hide a female version of the dog Butler. Phil presents his case to enter a secret yet prestigious magic society

27. Election Day (Season 3, Episode 19)
“She’s high, the whole family’s high – there’s your headline.” – Phil
On Election Day, the family does some last-minute campaigning for Claire; Claire experiences technical difficulties during interviews.

26. Airport 2010 (Season 1, Episode 22)
“You seem to know a lot about sneaking contraband on to an aircraft.” “Yeah, I’m Colombian.” – Gloria
Gloria surprises Jay with a trip to Hawaii for his birthday, but he isn’t pleased to find out that the entire family is tagging along. When everyone arrives at the airport, chaos ensues with forgotten identification, breaches of security, and flying phobias.

25. Regrets Only (Season 2, Episode 16)
“You don’t do one thing wrong. You do everything wrong, I don’t  know why she even talks to you. Chin up. Up!” – Gloria
Phil and Claire had a huge fight and Phil hasn’t a clue as to what it was over, so Gloria steps in to counsel Phil and Jay takes Claire. Meanwhile, Jay may have some regret in buying Gloria a karaoke machine, and Cameron is in full prep mode for a huge fundraising event and enlists help from Mitchell and Luke — which might not be the best choices.

24. The Wedding (part 1 & 2) (Season 5, Episodes 23-24)
“Thanks to 35 dollars on the Internet you are looking at the Good Reverend Phillip Humphrey Dunphy.” – Phil
Cam and Mitchell’s wedding arrives, but their big day gets questioned when things go wrong. Gloria and Jay give relationship advice’s to Cam’s parents, and things take turn for the unexpected. Phil and Claire get to know the kids better and Haley puts herself in the middle of a relationship breakup.

23. The Kiss (Season 2, Episode 2)
“He’s not gonna think I’m a lesbian!” “I thought you were, you totally have the sandals for it” – Haley
After Claire finds flirty texts from a boy on Alex’s phone, Claire tells Haley to give her advice, in which she tells Alex to kiss the boy, which makes her go up to the boy, and ask him in front of his friends, embarrassing him. Mitchell is having trouble kissing Cam in public, Phil works hard to fix Jay’s printer, and Jay must cope with Gloria’s customs.

22. Hawaii (Season 1, Episode 23)
“We had a fire drill not the hotel just us.” – Luke
Jay’s plans to do nothing but relax on vacation are interrupted by an unwelcome reality check. Meanwhile, Phil tries to make the trip romantic for Claire, Mitchell and Cameron disagree on whether they should go sight-seeing, and the kids get themselves into trouble.

21. Earthquake (Season 2, Episode 3)
“I wanna go to the museum of tolerance.” “Fine. How far’s tolerance?” – Haley
Claire gets stuck in the bathroom with the plumber when an earthquake hits, and Phil scrambles to hide the damage. Meanwhile, Cameron and Mitchell try to evade a friend’s party, and Jay takes Manny golfing instead of going to church.

20. Open House of Horrors (Season 4, Episode 5)
“You put egg on my house, I kill what you love!” – Gloria
Claire must rein in her enthusiasm for Halloween and keep her celebration kid-friendly; Phil decides to hold an open house on Halloween; Mitch and Cam have a costume party; Gloria’s hormones make her more quick-tempered than usual. Manny questions his judgement when given the opportunity to hang with the ‘cool’ crowd in recognition of something he did not mean to do on purpose.

19. The One That Got Away (Season 2, Episode 24)
“You are the prettiest, smartest, funniest girl in the sixth grade, I’ve enjoyed talking to you online and I think we should be boyfriend and girlfriend… Oh no, it’s not what you think I’m talking to a little boy” – Cameron
Jay wants to go fishing on his birthday, but the family insists he has a big party, leading Claire and Mitchell to get trapped in their childhood yard, Phil to encounter his college nemesis at the mall and Cameron to have trouble at the bakery.

18. The Old Wagon (Season 2, Episode 1)
“What’s the plan, Phil?!” – Claire
Phil finally agrees to sell the old station wagon, but only after a family trip down memory lane; Cameron asks Jay for help when Mitchell decides to build a life-size princess castle for Lily.

17. Schooled (Season 4, Episode 2)
“I wrapped my son with one hand while driving a stick. I know how to keep my kid safe.” – Gloria
Claire and Phil embarrass Haley when they drop her off at college. Manny makes Gloria and Jay take a class on how to care for a baby. Meanwhile, Lily gets into a tussle on her first day of kindergarten, and when Mitch and Cameron get into an argument with her assailant’s lesbian parents, the principal orders them to have a play-date.

16. Yard Sale (Season 4, Episode 6)
“I’m just 90% sure, he’s 100% gay” – Claire
Jay and Gloria hold a yard sale to help Manny and Luke with their school’s charity fundraiser; in the process, Luke and Manny unearth an old trunk of Gloria’s that she wishes to remain a secret. Mitch and Cam help Claire assess Alex’s new ‘boy friend’; Phil feels pressured to both sell and buy something; Mitchell struggles on how to tell a slimmer Cam that he is not fully confident he can keep his dietary practices going.

15. Punkin Chunkin (Season 3, Episode 9)
“I love your ‘I love you’, getting pretty tired of your ‘but’… I heard it” – Phil
A former neighborhood resident, now rich and successful, returns for a visit; Jay thinks Manny needs constructive criticism; Mitchell questions the authenticity of Cameron’s colorful childhood stories.

14. Tableau Vivant (Season 3, Episode 23)
“Is that jealous? My poor sisters.” – Gloria
Gloria and Jay bicker while trying to order lunch at a diner; Claire and Cam have different theories on how to discipline kids; Luke accepts an award under false pretenses; Phil has a hard time firing Mitchell from his temporary job at the real estate agency; the entire family participates in Alex’s living art display of Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving painting “Freedom from want”.

13. See You Next Fall (Season 2, Episode 23)
“Yes, I’ll be a carnivorous, amazonian fish.” – Alex
The whole family gathers at Jay’s house before heading out to Alex’s graduation ceremony from middle school, but while at the house, Jay is preoccupied hiding a botox mishap from everyone, Cameron is upset about Mitchell’s habit of laughing at him, and Phil tries to sympathize with, yet also criticizes Claire on her impending breakdown over the kids growing up too fast.

12. Princess Party (Season 2, Episode 15)
“I’m screaming at a princess party, mom!” – Claire
The guest list for Lily’s princess-themed birthday party gets a little out of hand when Mitchell decides to invite his mom, much to Claire’s dismay, and disinvite Fizbo, much to Cameron’s dismay. Things get even more strange when DeDe shows up with Claire’s old high school boyfriend in tow, and Jay and Gloria each turn to their own unique methods of dealing with this gathering of misfits.

11. Manny Get Your Gun

Season 2, Episode 8

“Because you are our Daddy!” “I’ll always be your Daddy!”

 

The first of six season 2 episodes to make the top 10 is ‘Manny Get Your Gun’. The episode is set around the birthday party of Manny and his concern that he forgot to have a childhood, prompted by Jay’s gift of a gun for ages sixteen and up. Claire and Phil decide to have a race to the restaurant, Luke misconstrues when Claire says she and Phil are splitting up whilst Phil deals with the devastating news that Alex and Haley don’t want to go back to family camp the following summer. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitchell still have to shop for Manny’s birthday present before arriving at the restaurant. Mitchell becomes frustrated when Cam stops to help two cheating pensioners when he is trying to surprise Cam by performing in a flash mob. Cameron gets upset with Mitchell, feeling betrayed that he didn’t tell him about the surprise. The episode is scaled to fit the 25 minutes before Manny’s dinner party and shows the more hectic elements of the family combined with three thoroughly entertaining subplots. In fact, this episode should be in the top ten for Gloria’s shooting skills alone.

10. Arrested

Season 4, Episode 7

“It’s faucon disgusting”

Quite simply, the most relieving episode of season 4. Every MOFY was devastated when Haley went off to college in ‘Schooled’ and quite frankly, we were thrilled to see her booted out. Haley is ousted from university for assaulting a police officer (it’s not as violent as it sounds). Claire and Phil rush up-state with Mitchell, as their lawyer to bail her out of prison. Gloria and Jay get another delightful visit from Dede. Jay tries to hide Gloria’s pregnancy from her but only manages to deflect her disdain for Gloria on to himself. Cam meanwhile is left looking after the kids, in Claire, Phil and Mitchell’s absences and seeing as Luke and Alex end up needing medical attention, it’s safe to say he didn’t do the best job. The episode hits top marks from the start, and is indisputably up there with the series bests, if not with it’s consistency in hilarity and it showcasing Mitchell’s ability to provide comic relief in stressful situations but for the best quote of the show since Alex’s “The Empire Strikes Back” quip from three years earlier.

9. Coal Digger

Season 1, Episode 5

“Be one with me, Jay.”

The most obvious issue in the family’s dynamic was addressed as early as episode 5 when Gloria finds out that Claire has been calling her a ‘gold digger’ behind her back. The episode starts with Gloria, Jay, Claire and Phil being brought in to the school due to Manny and Luke fighting. Luke is upset that Manny refers to himself as his uncle and when Gloria infers that Luke is weird, Claire’s resentment is refuelled. The family gather at the Delgado-Pritchett’s to watch American football but Luke accidentally reveals Claire’s bitching just after her and Gloria had made peace. Naturally, Phil heads to Gloria’s room and takes many colourful thongs to the face in an attempt to resolve the feud. But in the end it takes Claire jumping in the pool to earn Gloria’s forgiveness.

8. The Incident

Season 1, Episode 4

“Baby, baby. I just wanna do you, do you”

Without doubt the best addition to the main cast of Modern Family is DeDe Pritchett played by Shelley Long. You might think that Phil and the kids wind Claire up but you haven’t seen anything until Claire’s mother starts to push her buttons. In episode four, DeDe returns to Cheviot Hills in an attempt to apologise to Gloria following the revelation that she ruined her and Jay’s wedding. The hilarious flashback of a drunken DeDe mocking Gloria and then being carried out of the room and subsequently destroying the wedding cake is just a prelude for the laughs that ensue when the family meets at the Dunphy’s house later on and DeDe attacks Gloria in front of everyone. And as if this wasn’t enough, Haley is still trying desperately to convince her parents that Dylan is responsible enough to take her to a concert. But what’s funnier is the very own concert Dylan treats the family to at the end of the episode…

7. Little Bo Bleep

Season 3, Episode 13

“I am not a pervert. I, like a lot of men in this town, enjoy making love to my wife.”

Admittedly, Season three may not have been Modern Family’s best but it still had enough about it to produce some genuine heavyweight episodes. A compliment especially apt for ‘Little Bo Bleep’. Claire is embroiled in a race to beat Dwayne Bailey and become the new councilwoman. So the Dunphys prepare her for a live TV debate in their living room, picking out her every flaw to Claire’s frustration. Of course, with all the in-depth prep, Claire’s debate is a complete disaster as Phil goes viral on YouTube in the season’s funniest moment. Meanwhile, Jay is battling to save Stella from her suicidal ways, believing that Gloria is bullying her and Mitchell and Cam are preparing Lily to be a flower girl but are concerned when she starts dropping the ‘F bomb’, to Cam’s amusement. Just like ‘Manny Get Your Gun’, this episode has three solid story arcs that each create moments of genuine hilarity. A significantly under-rated episode.

6. The Musical Man

Season 2, Episode 19

“We love the word?”

Maybe not as consistent as some of it’s predecessors, ‘The Musical Man’ makes it to number six for the brilliance of two of it’s three main stories. Ignoring Jay’s storyline with his cancer-inflicted brother; the episode could have been number one on the countdown. Claire becomes reminiscent about college as she tries perilously to convince Haley to leave the coup next autumn. However, unbeknownst to her, she is driving around in a car clad in an advert for Phil’s company that makes her and her daughter look like prostitutes. Meanwhile, Cam is back to pursuing his musical passions as the director of the Franklin Middle School play. The situations are intensified by Phil, when he is questioned about the physiques of his wife and daughter unbeknownst to him and like his daughter in the show’s seventh best episode, Cam drops a rather embarrassing ‘F bomb’ of his own…

5. Caught in the Act

Season 2, Episode 13

“I can still see it”

It’s probably fair to say that I like to go against the grain when it comes to things like this but it would have been near impossible to keep ‘Caught in the Act’ out of the top five, let alone the top twenty-five. The situation in this episode is centered around Haley, Alex and Luke walking in on their parents having sex; mix this in with a fiery, accidental e-mail from Gloria to Claire and you get a culmination of comedy at the Dunphy household. Claire and Phil are co0ped up in their room trying to figure out what to say to the kids who themselves have fled the household. When the pair finally work up the courage to talk to them they are met by an apologetic Gloria who assumes Claire is distressed by her forthright e-mail. Modern Family feeds off the humour created from misunderstandings and none of them have been as funny as when Claire misconstrues Gloria’s comments as an offer for a lesbian romp. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitch are out to impress the owner of a new restaurant, Amelia by organising a play date for their kids. Fortunately for the viewer, everything goes horribly wrong and the couple are left with a rug and vase to pay for.

4. Halloween

Season 2, Episode 6

“Come in… if you dare.”

Another critics’ favourite is in at number four.  The episode starts with the focus on Claire’s love for Halloween and her desire to host the scariest house of horror in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately for her, the family are not up to standard. Gloria is furious with Jay for insinuating that people don’t understand her so she drops her harsh Colombian accent for a ‘proper American’ one. Phil is intent on declaring his love for Claire at every possible opportunity due to the sudden divorce of a happy couple, the Dunphys know. Cam is haunted by a dreadful Halloween memory that he milks for every bit of drama he can get and Mitchell isn’t feeling participatory following a difficult day as Spiderman. All in all, ‘Halloween’ doesn’t serve up as many laughs as some of the other episodes in the countdown and the individual storylines are maybe not as strong, but for its adventurous and well-executed gimmick alone, it is worthy of its place.

3. Good Cop Bad Dog

Season 2, Episode 22

“Are you going to the ball, Cinderella? Live a little.”

Perhaps an unconventional choice for a top three spot but a fair one. ‘Good Cop Bad Dog’ sees two good story arcs pitted against a superb one. Jay and Gloria argue over the potential of Guillermo’s dog training system in a turn of events that eventually sees the introduction of Stella to the show. At the Pritchett-Tucker’s, Cameron is very unwell but the couple have tickets to see Lady Gaga, resulting in Mitchell having to battle with his morals and Cam over-reacting to his fire-haired partner’s betrayal. However, this episode truly belongs to Phil and Claire Dunphy who are on red, hot form throughout after they decide to switch parenting roles; Claire becoming the ‘good cop’ and Phil, the bad. However, things go horribly wrong for both resulting in car crashes and starvation. The pair are so good in this episode, they barely go a sentence or an action without inciting roars of laughter from the audience. A true Dunphy delight.

2. Family Portrait

Season 1, Episode 24

“Look at us all dressed up in white. What are we, a cricket team?”

The first season is crucial for the success of any new sitcom and that is true too of Modern Family. The opening twenty-four episodes accumulated a massive three Primetime Emmy’s but it was the season’s ultimate episode that would prove to be its very best. The episode is based around Phil, Gloria, Manny and Alex’s trip to a basketball game. Claire spots him on TV ignoring a phone call from her and when Jay is being interviewed by Luke, the little one is led to believe that Jay wants to fight him. The situation is a lot funnier when you realise Phil has just kissed Gloria on the KissCam. While all of this is going on, Claire is tirelessly organising a family photo but caves to her perfectionist disposition and asks to hold the shoot at Mitchell’s house, which is impossible as his house has been destroyed whilst he tried to spur the ambush of an invading pigeon. The episode makes it to number two for three reasons; 1) it’s chock-full of one-liners, 2) it encompasses the family ideal at the heart of the show and 3) it laid down the marker for the first season, establishing Modern Family as a genuine television force.

1. Mother’s Day

Season 2, Episode 21

“Sometimes, I wanna punch my kids.”

I can pretty much guarantee that any Modern Family fan who has followed this countdown all the way from number twenty-five to now would not have had this down as number one. Admittedly, it’s not a particular favourite of the critic’s, being labelled as ‘respectable’ and ‘satisfying’. In truth, had those critics bothered to look a bit deeper they would see that this episode of Modern Family is twenty-two minutes of comedy perfection. This episode, like so many of the show’s other greats, is centered around Claire and Gloria. The unlikely pair take their kids for a hiking trip, whilst Jay and Phil cook dinner. Claire and Gloria are left to battle with their whiny kids as they bemoan the walk, their mothers are making them face; Gloria and Manny reconcile but Haley, Alex and Luke are hoping to give Claire some grief for inflicting boredom upon them. Across town in Century City, Mitchell decides to dedicate the day to Cameron, who is offended given the nature of the day. The pair spend the interlude between the opening and the family meal, running in to situations highlighting Cam’s somewhat maternal nature. I’ve spoken before about the fact many episodes have story arcs with varying success but in ‘Mother’s Day’, they all hit the top bracket. The stories are funny, fresh and in Cam and Mitchell’s case, brave. In truth, not one of the eleven main cast members is off form, in this episode and if critics don’t think this can go down as one of the show’s greats, I struggle to think what else can.

Californian Dream (Part 3: The Big Orange)

“I love your hair colour, Roberta. Oh, the whole family’s gorgeous!” – A loud-mouthed ‘Brooklyner’ compliments us at Universal Studios

The prospect of entering one of the World’s most famous cities with a massive population of 3.9 million was daunting. After negotiating our way through the rush-hour traffic, we arrived in the LA district of Century City, the location of our hotel. The Marriott hotel itself was brilliant. The lobby was stunning, the staff were helpful and they even had valet parking to boot. It was as glamorous as you’d expect. My Dad and Debbie had been less keen on the idea of the city of Angels. They had been more excited by the culturally-rich San Francisco. However, me and my sister were desperate to immerse ourselves in the Big Orange and we opted to take a quick tour around the city in our car.

Modern Family… The Dunphy household on Dunleer Drive, Cheviot Hills

What immediately struck me was the variety that LA possessed; one minute you could be around corporate skyscrapers and the next in a humble, quaint housing estate all housed within the same city. The city also seemed to have a huge gay scene (I don’t mean that there were a lot of obese homosexuals), more-so than San Fran. One street was so packed with gay clubs and shops it should have been renamed Brokeback Boulevard.  Before we’d left for the hotel I had keenly searched for the location of the Modern Family houses, as you probably know I’m a massive fan of the show. I couldn’t believe my luck when one house was located within Century City itself and another in nearby Cheviot Hills. Of course, I forced a detour to both locations and wearing  an ear-to-ear smile got a snap in front of the houses. Unfortunately, my Dad has since lost the camera and I cannot share these photos with you but at least I have the memories. We then went to eat at BJ’s restaurant, a stylish restaurant complete with delicious food. It quickly became a family favourite if not for it’s excellent service but it’s opportunity for innuendo.

City Love… I ♥ Los Angeles

The next day, we were awoken by our sink backing up in the hotel. Black water was oozing from the basin. After a series of complaints to the front and a quick breakfast we hit Santa Monica beach. Following the strenuous task of finding a place to park, we settled on the beach, armed with chicken salad sandwiches from 7-Eleven. We decided to take a stroll down Santa Monica pier, which was plastered with classic sea-sidey pleasures; rollercoasters, candy floss and souvenir shops. However, the best sight on the pier was our first and only celebrity spotting of the trip, Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez. What are the chances? A hotel in the same district as the Modern Family houses and a spotting of one of the cast members on the pier?  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture with him, he was with his family who had formed a turtle formation around him. However, my Dad managed to pap him and told me that he watched me and my sister have our photo taken as if it were some sort of creepy consolation. The rest of the day on the beach mainly involved playing volleyball and reading Alan Carr’s autiobiography whilst skewed on the golden sands. Afterwards, we went for a walk down Venice Beach, I bought an ‘I ♥ LA’ t-shirt, only the second city to receive that honour (after Leicester). That night, we once again frequented BJ’s and for the second night running I had their delicious Mango Chicken Salad, which is odd for me because I usually hate salads.

Hollywood… The famous hillside sign

On Monday, we drove the 5 mile distance to Universal Studios. We arrived just after 9am so as to beat the crowds. In hindsight, it wasn’t necessary seeing as we had front of the line passes. The place is fantastic. They have water spray stations able to cool you in the blistering heat, complimentary Brooklyners leaning out of windows, one of which called my family ‘gorgeous’, a waxwork of Vin Diesel that my sister enjoyed and the cheesiest souvenir shops you could wish for. Naturally, my thrill-seeking Dad and Holly were desperate to get on the rides so they did whilst my pasty skin frazzled in the sun. I used to like rollercoasters but I’ve since been deterred following  a near-death experience at Drayton Manor, but that’s a different story. In fact, I did brave 3 rides during our visit; The Simpsons 3D, Shrek 4D and even the Jurassic Park water ride which is the most exhilarating log flume I’ve ever been on. Other than the dino drop, I was there for the back-lot studio tour. It was incredibly insightful. The tram took you around many iconic sets, props and stages from a simulated earthquake in a subway to a recreation of Jaws in the town of Amityville. Of course, I was most excited to arrive on Wisteria Lane, and it was spectacular, just as pristine as on the box. Within the last three days, I had visited the homes of Modern Family, met Manny Delgado and been to Wisteria Lane. LA was shaping up to be the perfect city.

Bright lights bigger city… Night-time view from Santa Monica pier

Our final day was twinged with a bit of sadness for me. I woke to find my iPod of 18 months unresponsive on the bed-side table and the Apple store staff unable to save her. We grabbed a croissant, I sat sullen remembering the life of my digital pal until I was inadvertently distracting by an upcoming actress discussing scripts with her agents, unfortunately we didn’t catch a name of someone who is sure to be a rising star. We then made the journey to Tinseltown!  Oddly enough there is something quite satisfying about having your picture taken with a celebrity’s name that’s been stencilled on to a path. From Ed O’Neill to Felicity Huffman, I had my snap taken with all my favourite stars. Better yet, I discovered my hands and feet were the exact same size as the great king of pop, Michael Jackson! Okay, I may have jumped the gun there – the best part of the day was an unexpected compliment from an LA local who said ‘that’s a very cool shirt, dude!” referring to the Leicester City shirt I was proudly donning. On the way out of the city, we stopped by Johnny Depp’s house for my sister. His street is a winding street just off a main road, cleverly secluded by high trees. The houses there were fantastic but we were clearly not welcome. The road was a dead-end and there were even bouncers glaring at us from a driveway as we tried to sneak a peek at one of Hollywood’s A-List pads. Further down that road we encountered our first ‘insane’ American, a homeless man seemingly blaming Jennifer Aniston for life’s shortcomings. LA was  fantastic and when I left for San Diego that afternoon, I did so with a heavy heart. Could ‘America’s finest city’ compete with La La Land?

Blame… Jennifer Aniston is the leading cause of homelessness.

Modern Family : My Favourite Characters

Modern Family is fronted by a cast of eleven brilliant characters all the way from Jay down to Lily. Here is my ranking of their comedic performance and overall contribution to the show.

11. Lily Tucker-Pritchett

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“Daddy, Daddy! F***!”… Lily is the clan’s least popular member

The proverbial wooden spoon is awarded to the family’s youngest member, who is played by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. It is very rare for the show’s characters to come under scrutiny but when they do it is usually Lily who takes the fall. She is often criticised for being annoying. I personally don’t share that opinion. It’s her sparing usage that sees her take last place.

10. Manny Delgado

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“I’d forgotten to have a childhood.”… Count Manny opens the top ten.

This might come as a surprise to most fans of the show but number ten on the countdown is ‘count-like dressing’, coffee drinking Manny Delgado. For the most part, Manny is very popular among the show’s fans and don’t get me wrong I do like him as a character but he just doesn’t make me laugh as much as some of the others. He’s just not ‘my cup of tea’, terminology I’m sure he’d appreciate.

9. Haley Dunphy

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“How far’s tolerance?”… Ditzy Haley is on cloud nine

The first Dunphy to appear on the countdown is eldest sibling, Haley. Again, Haley is rarely used as the main story of an episode but when she is, she can serve up some pretty funny moments as the role of the ‘typical’ teenage girl, especially when paired with her scathing sister, Alex

8. Luke Dunphy

“Are you doing sex?”… Luke is gr-eight

It may come as no surprise to you given Luke’s incredibly funny portrayals that actor, Nolan Gould is in fact an official genius with an IQ of 150. However, his dopey alter-ego couldn’t be more different. Luke is an inquisitive, overly-stimulated kid with the ability to leave the viewers in stitches with his goofy antics. There is literally nothing to pick between Luke and his two siblings when it comes to comedy, himself and Haley can count themselves unlucky to not be ranked higher.

7. Alex Dunphy

“The Empire Strikes Back”… Geeky Alex is number seven.

The next on the countdown is super-nerd, Alex Dunphy. In my opinion, Claire and Phil’s middle-child is by far and away the show’s most under-rated character. It’s fair to say that her sometimes snooty attitude can be off-putting but her razor sharp banterous exchanges with her aforementioned older sibling are often welcomed by cackles of laughter. And if she doesn’t deserved seventh place for that, she is also the coiner of the show’s best quote to date.

6. Gloria Pritchett

“I’m Colombian. I know a fake crime scene when I see one!”… Gloria is one of the big guns at number six.

“JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!” Feisty diva, Gloria is next on the list and she has every reason to be placed so high. Her contrasting naive and scheming sides allow her to be the show’s most versatile character. Her wonderful accent is a hidden gem that amplifies the comedy of just about anything she says. On top of this, her quick-to-anger attitude and colourful accounts of her small Colombian village make her one of the show’s most popular characters.

5. Cameron Tucker

“Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice.”… Drama-queen Cam is the show’s most flamboyant character.

Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Fifth place on my countdown of the best Modern Family characters is no other than flamboyant music teacher Cameron. Mitchell’s other half is a permanent manifestation of laughter. It’s almost impossible not to break out in fits of laughter when Cam unleashes his dramatic mood swings on the box. In fact, caving in to his hilarity is downright inevitable.

4. Phil Dunphy

“You’re all the porn I need.”… Doting dad, Phil only manages to reach fourth place.

Fourth spot goes to goofy salesman, Phil Dunphy. It’s pretty much impossible not to love ‘cool Dad’, Phil. He rarely fails to deliver in any episode. His outrageous antics vary from being tasered to relentlessly chasing his dearly sought after, iPad. Phil is a first class character and well worth a spot in the top four but unfortunately for our resident goof, there is another Dunphy lying in wait…

3. Mitchell Pritchett

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“There’s a little bit of me in that princess castle”… Mother’s boy, Mitchell is given bronze.

The first Pritchett to be taken out of the running is ‘fire-haired’, Mitchell. Mitchell has some hilarious moments opposite his life partner, Cam. His witty comebacks particularly against his father with whom he shares a turbulent relationship are always perfectly timed and executed.I used to find him annoying, until I realised it’s because we share quite a few traits. He’s a ‘grower’, not as obviously loveable as the likes of Cam, Phil and Gloria but he is a Pritchett after all.

2. Jay Pritchett

“I understand about 20% of what goes on around here.”… City tough Jay dons Phil’s onion glasses.

Just like Mitchell, it takes a little longer to warm to Jay than some of the other’s. The family’s patriarch just misses out on the top spot in this ranking. Jay is often prominent in every episode starring alongside his wife, Gloria and step-son, Manny which frequently leads to hilarious culture clashes with the two Colombians.  His vitriolic put-downs, often directed towards Phil are hellaciously funny and enough to make him one of the show’s most quotable characters. I think the quality about Jay, I love more and more, every time I cycle through my Modern Family DVD collection is his cheekiness. It’s a wonder Ed O’Neill hasn’t picked up an Emmy for his perfect performances.

And the winner is…

1. Claire Dunphy

“We were having fun!”… Super Claire Dunphy rules supreme.

I realise that this is an unconventional choice but in my view wholly justified. There can be no arguing that stressed-out, Claire Dunphy is by far and away the most realistic character to grace the screen. Many see her as nothing more than a nagging buzz-kill but Queen Claire is so much more. Whether, she’s battling town council with her scathing sarcasm, tripping over the various hazards she stumbles across in the Dunphy household or simply berating Phil and the kids, Julie Bowen expertly grafts a superior character that is not only charmingly realistic but a genuine comedic delight.

Modern Family. Modern Classic.

“Welcome back to the Modern Family awards” was the line Jane Lynch comically read out as Modern Family continued to steamroll its competition at the most recent Primetime Emmy awards. As it takes its rightful place at the top of the TV throne

In just three short seasons, comedy sensation Modern Family has already received eleven Primetime Emmy awards as well as thirty-one nominations, more than FriendsSeinfeld and Desperate Housewives, a feat achieved in a third of the time of the other three.

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We are the champions… Modern Family wins big at the Emmys.

The reasons as to why Modern Family has achieved such remarkable success since its debut in 2009 comes down to two key factors; hilariously diverse characters and impeccable writing.

Modern Family features an ensemble cast headed by the wonderfully-talented adult roster of Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Jay Pritchett (O’Neill) is the extended family’s patriarch now living with his much younger, fiesty Colombian wife, Gloria (Vergara) and her son, Manny. Bowen plays stressed-out mother of three, Claire Dunphy who lives with her husband, Phil (Burrell) and gay couple Cam (Stonestreet) and Mitch (Ferguson) complete the cast. Just from these six characters, the show throws up a unique blend of personality. The characters are remarkably relatable and allow the writers to venture in to various comedic scenarios from performing an ice-skating routine in a car park to being attacked by a ruthless pigeon.

But perhaps what is most promising about the sitcom’s brilliantly talented cast is the hilarity of its kid stars. Many TV shows would be more than satisfied to throw the kids in to the back seat but Modern Family is different, relying nearly as much on its child cast to provide laughs as its adult one. Sarah Hyland (actually 21), Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez show no signs of inexperience often proving pivotal in the series’ funniest moments.

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“What are we, a cricket team?”… The family pose for a family portrait in season one’s finale

The writing is the other key attribute that has helped propel Modern Family  to success. The show is set up as a ‘mockumentary’, complete with interviews from the family members revolving around the events of the episode, allowing the inclusion of more plot detail in order to further the story or set up a gag. This style of filming also allows the cast to acknowledge the camera; the stolen glances towards the lens often leaves viewers in stitches of laughter at the most opportune of moments. The writers also take the opportunity to wrap up the majority of the episodes with a warm, charming life lesson pertaining to the current episodes, creating an authentic family atmosphere about the series.

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“Now all that driving your mom does will serve a purpose.”

Of course, Modern Family‘s success cannot just be measured by it’s massive collection of 138 award nominations (that’s 1.9 awards per episode) but by its viewership. In the States, Modern Family is going from strengh-to-strength with ratings increasing from on average of 9.39 million viewers in 2009 to 13.01 million in 2012, seeing it regularly beat the American version of The X Factor in it’s Wednesday time-slot. Modern Family even has a loyal band of followers here in the United Kingdom, regularly achieving close to a million viewers without the benefit of a prime-time slot nor a major channel.

Modern Family continues to storm award shows and the ratings with it still feeling as fresh as ever 72 episodes in to its glorious reign as TV’s hottest sitcom. Personally, Modern Family is a favourite of mine, it could be due to its incredibly gifted cast, the sharp, intelligent writing or the fact that the show reminds me of my own family. But the fact of the matter is, Modern Family is getting stronger and funnier with each passing episode as it continues its quest to cement its status as a TV classic. I know that throughout this article, I’ve nearly run out of superlatives to describe this near flawless show but it’s imperative that you don’t get me wrong. Modern Family is no Seinfeld or Friends… It’s much better.

P.S. I dare you to watch and not love it – http://www.cucirca.com/2011/01/23/modern-family-season-1-episode-1-pilot/