Modern Family had a lot to live up to after its Emmy Award winning first season. Besides the critical accolades it received from just about every reviewer under the sun, the series became a hit for ABC, anchoring the network’s lineup of Wednesday night comedies. Like many shows entering their sophomore season, most of us expected the show to continue with its excellence. Modern Family not only carried over everything from season one, but it got better, providing more laughs and more quality entertainment. As the cast really gelled and the comic timing between all of these veterans, including the kid actors, sharpened, Modern Family became one of the finest shows on television, comedy of drama.
Created by Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan, Modern Family adopts the same documentary style of television like The Office and Parks and Recreation. Like those comedies, the pacing is rapid and the jokes so plentiful that viewers are rewarded after multiple viewings. The wring of Modern Family is sharp, catering to the strengths of the shows impeccable cast. And man, what a cast: Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burell, Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet – all of them have offer realistic, albeit heightened portrayals of parents in the 21st Century. But the parents are not the sole stars of this show, as Rico Rodriguez, Ariel Winter, Sarah Hyland and Nolan Gould all shine brighter than any of the tween stars you’ll find on Disney or Nick.
At its best, Modern Family melds the insanity of family life together with the rewards and sentimentality that comes with having a close bond with your relatives. My favorites of season two included “Halloween,” in which Claire (Bowen) goes over the top decorating the house and trying to create the ultimate Halloween experience. She pulls the entire family into the fold, not just her husband, Phil (Burrell) and kids, but her brother, father and their respective families. When they all want to ditch her Halloween house as quickly as possible, Claire breaks down and delivers a poignant speech that adds more depth to her character and explains why she’s so high strung. The aftermath of this moment is what makes Modern Family so special. Everyone comes together for Claire and her dream Halloween night is saved.
Another excellent episode full of surprises is “Boys’ Night,” featuring guest appearances by Philip Baker Hall as a cranky neighbor and Nathan Lane as an old friend of Cam (Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Ferguson). The highlight of the episode involves Cam, Mitchell and a group of their friends out for a rare night together. When Jay (O’Neill) unexpectedly shows up at the same restaurant, Cam is mortified, positive that his father will embarrass him with his typical prejudicial comments. As the boys start to get liquored up, Jay shocks the hell out of everyone, and the audience, when he opens up about Cam and loving his son. Jay also ends up hitting it off with Nathan Lane and has to go on a “date” with him the following day.
Finally, “See You Next Fall,” the penultimate episode of season two, features excellent work by Winter and Hyland. Alex (Winter) is set to deliver the Valedictorian speech for the graduating class of her junior high. She is prepared to rail into her classmates, the kids who mocked her and made her feel like an outcast. But Haley (Hyland) steps in and offers big sister advice that is both hilarious and, in her own dim way, kindhearted. The episode also features O’Neill at his best, trying to hide the fact that he got botox.
I believe that Modern Family’s appeal stems from its focus on domestic life rather than the work place. Many viewers have been turned off by the tone of many comedies, those with the snarky and constantly sarcastic characters. Modern Family seems like the safe alternative. The humor can get raunchy and crude, but it’s the show’s heart that makes it so appealing and such a hit. After rewatching season two, I’m confident that this show will be be a long- standing hit for years to come.
The Blu-ray release comes with a bounty of special features. They include: Deleted Family Interviews, Deleted and Extended Scenes”Strangers on a Treadmill” – Episode Table Read, Mitch’s Flash Mob, “Imagine Me Naked” Music Video, Gag-Reel, Modern Family Holidays, Waiting for Oprah, Chatting with Steve Levitan, At Home with Modern Family,