Modern Family: Season 2 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
IF SOME episodes of the sophomore season of mockumentary series Modern Family sometimes seemed to be trying too hard, or became overly formulaic, this continues to remain one of the brightest lights on the US comedy circuit.
A sharply observed look at three separate households of the same family, the show follows, by turns, a gay couple, comprised of Mitchell and Cameron, and their daughter Lily; a straight couple, comprised of Phil and Claire, and their three kids, Haley, Alex, and Luke, and a multi-cultural couple, which is comprised of Jay and Gloria, and their son Manny.
Arguably, the biggest laughs come from the straight couple because of the presence of Ty Burrell’s consistently hilarious patriarch, Phil, there’s also plenty of deadpan humour to be found from the perpetually exasperated expressions of Ed O’Neill’s Jay Pritchett and from Eric Stonestreet’s impossibly camp Cameron Tucker.
But this is the kind of highly polished ensemble comedy that the Americans so often seem to make look so effortless, affording every cast member – young and old – a moment in the spotlight as well as plenty of opportunity for guest appearances.
Season two included some memorable cameo appearances from Matt Dillon, as Claire’s ex-boyfriend, Danny Trejo as a school caretaker (in the excellent episode Dance Dance Revelation), and Nathan Lane, as an old friend of Cameron’s.
The subtle blend of farcical situation comedy and witty banter at the expense of parenting continued to work nicely alongside some tender and even poignant quiet moments, which lends the show its heart and soul. You genuinely care for each of the characters and can empathise with many of their predicaments – the feeling of hurt as your children get older and no longer see you as their world, the cringe-factor of watching your parents pretend to still be hip, the social awkwardness that sometimes still greets homosexuality.
True, a lot of episodes resort to touchy-feely coming together sequences and big all round hugs as each family member makes up for the various mishaps or arguments that form the basis of a lot of episodes. But it’s so well done that the schmaltzy elements somehow seem appropriate.
There are things to look out for, of course. As the show continues to look for laughs in ever more heightened scenarios, the sense of realism that made Season 1 so outstanding sometimes feels strained, while the device of having gay couple Mitchell and Cameron fight and then make-up after almost every other episode feels tired and ponders the question: why are they together when they so clearly have a different set of priorities.
But with episodes to make you laugh out loud still in the majority – The Old Wagon, Halloween, Caught in the Act, Bixby’s Back and Regrets Only being particular favourites – Modern Family remains essential viewing first time around that is still tailor-made for repeat enjoyment in the same way as landmark shows such as Friends.
UK DVD Release: September 5, 2011