Last night’s finale just goes to show that when it comes to TV comedy, you can’t do much better than ‘Modern Family.’ It was formulaic, sure, but some formulas exist for a reason – because they just plain work.
There’s no reason I should love ‘Modern Family.’ It uses the same plots as the sitcoms I grew tired of so long ago, and the mockumentary style shooting isn’t exactly original for prime time comedy. But it’s not the story that makes ‘Modern Family’ great. It’s the characters.
The final episode of the first season, ‘Family Portrait,’ didn’t break down any boundaries in terms of originality. Phil went to see the Lakers with Gloria, Alex and Manny, and ended up on the “Kiss Cam” with Gloria, who obliged. Phil thought Claire saw it on TV, and wacky misunderstandings ensued.
Cam took a job as a wedding singer while Mitchell watched Lily at home. But uh-oh, a pigeon got in the house! Mitchell screamed, hid, and then decided to confront the bird head on. It’s such a cliché, but it just plain works. There’s something about Mitchell screaming and shaking while filling a cup with milk that just slayed me.
Every plot point in this episode, from Claire’s desire for a family photo to Hayley’s pimple to Manny and Jay getting their underwear mixed up, could have found a home in a lesser show with a laugh track and a 7:00 PM time slot. But when the writers and actors behind ‘Modern Family’ take on the task, it feels fresh, and more importantly, honest.
Even the ending was pulled straight from the sitcom text book. It’s a food fight ending, or in this case, a mud fight. The uptight “straight guy” character – in this case that’s Claire – ended up getting pelted with a glob of mud, and then softened up and joined in the fun with everyone else. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
One thing I have to call out in particular is the guest spot Kobe Bryant did on this episode. Rather than sticking him awkwardly into the story, or making the non-actor try and play a role, he played a very believable Kobe Bryant. His interaction with Phil was great, and it didn’t reach too far to be unbelievable.
‘Family Portait’ was over the top at points, and grounded at others. The highs and lows meshed beautifully and it resulted in a fun episode that’s just a bit more sentimental than usual. I, for one, cannot wait for season two.