So it all started when I canceled my cable. I had one of those
introductory rates that sneaks up on you until you realize you're
forking over enough to sponsor two dozen of the kids on the
Children's Fund commercials every month to the cable company. So we
parted ways. And now, for the first time since the heyday of Grey's
Anatomy, I'm becoming reacquainted with primetime network
And I have to say, I'm impressed, Jay Leno's new gig
notwithstanding. More than the laughs (30 Rock) and the
only-slightly-embarrassing tears (The Biggest Loser), I'm impressed
by the wide appeal of two new shows in particular: Glee and Modern
But since I only caught one of those this week, here it is: I
love Modern Family. It's funny in an underhanded
way, surprisingly fresh, and doesn't take itself too seriously.
And in the bigger, cosmic picture, it reflects the changing face
of today's (gasp!) modern family.
The 2000 census marked the first time that less than a quarter
(23.5 percent) of American households consisted of a married man
and woman and one or more of their children, and it's expected to
fall even lower in next year's census. In 1960, that number was 45
So why shouldn't we see that reality reflected on network
television, broadcast for free into every household in America?
Enter: Modern Family, a family tree with more than a few
no longer resemble the Cleavers
anymore. Shouldn't our TVs
Jay, a remarried divorcé with a hot wife and an awkward
middle-school-aged stepson, is trying to be a better father and
husband the second time around. Jay's son, Mitchell, and his
partner Cameron are settling into their roles as new parents, with
a few bumps along the way (who hasn't locked
their infant inside the car?). And the Dunphys? Phil is still
trying to be the "cool dad" while Claire is trying to
keep 16-year-old Haley from running off with the long-haired,
guitar-playing trouble also known as Derek.
There is something refreshingly real about this show. Not that
we all know an aging, paunchy exec who married a leggy
Colombian, or an adorably neurotic gay couple who turn their
adoption of a Vietnamese baby into the opening scene from the Lion King, or even an
attractive suburban couple with their three fairly normal, if
quirky, kids. And to be sure, the show certainly plays into
stereotypes attached to each of these labels. But what rises above
is an acknowledgement that the American family has moved way beyond
the Cleavers, and to those of us living that reality every day,
that's a good thing.
That message has a broad appeal, one that still touches (and
tickles) me, a twentysomething single gal with no kids. I find
myself laughing about it with my own parents and my equally single
twentysomething friends, as well doling out "You have to
watch this show!" to almost anyone here at the CP offices who will
listen. And today, that includes you. You have to watch
You can catch Modern Family Wednesday nights at 9/8 Central on
ABC or at abc.com.
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