March 3, 2013

Modern Family: The Modern Sitcom

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My life has changed immensely in the past four years. I came to Cornell, made new friends, dealt with life-changing events … and some of my favorite shows have been cancelled (see: Fringe). Through all of these tremendous changes, Modern Family has always been there. In its four seasons, it has been consistently funny, smart and impressive.

This week’s episode, Best Men, was no exception. It had all of the hilarity and wonderful characters I have loved for so many years and it moved along quickly. So many storylines were introduced and resolved over the course of one episode that all kinds of people can relate to, extract meaning from and laugh at hysterically.

Mitch and Cam’s friend Sal (Elizabeth Banks) is back and getting married! The night before the wedding, she freaks out about married life and kisses a bartender. But at the wedding, she finds out her husband-to-be made out with a stripper the night before, so everything is okay! Awww? Then Sal realizes that she actually wants Cam and Mitchell’s “boring” married life—since it is exciting to them—as long as she gets to spend it with her one true love (that she met three months ago). Double awww! While this storyline is slightly unrealistic and mostly just for laughs, it might also give people with pre-wedding jitters—or anyone who is nervous about something, for that matter—just the right push to conquer their fears.

While Claire thinks her oldest daughter Haley has matured and wants to treat her more like a friend, Haley doesn’t sense that anything has changed and they fail to understand each other. Then, they watch the younger daughter Alex’s performance with her band, and they both fail to understand her. Once a dysfunctional family, always a dysfunctional family? Or does their lack of understanding of each other just speak to what kinds of relationships they all have? This storyline could be especially sensitive for mothers and daughters, since the dynamic is ever-changing and can be quite comical (right, mom?).

Meanwhile, Phil takes control of Luke’s Facebook and invites his crush on a date, posing as him. Turns out, the girl’s mom was impersonating her, too. While Luke and Girl are on their date, Phil schmoozes with Girl’s mom, only to realize too late that she is flirting with him. Phil always seems to figure things out much after everyone else does, which I am sure is something a lot of people can relate to.

The real winner of this episode, though, was Lily, in the last minute, when she had an attitude-filled conversation with Sal about not being invited to the wedding.

After thinking about Best Men, I realized that Modern Family is the “Modern Sitcom” of our generation. Instead of the typical “three-camera system” we are used to in older sitcoms like Friends or Seinfeld, Modern Family uses a single-camera setup. It feels a lot faster-paced and it allows for a lot more to be done visually. Also, in an era when we are always multi-tasking and can’t sit still for long periods of time, Modern Family doesn’t draw things out and delivers in only 23 minutes. This lets a wider range of people relate to the show and holds the attention of our fast-paced generation.

However, sometimes the show seems so overstuffed with plotlines that it cannot devote enough attention to each one. They are resolved so quickly that it is harder to appreciate them, and harder to see the difference in importance between them (i.e., a wedding versus an awkward middle-school date). Additionally, there are several storylines the show has opened during this season—Haley dropping out of college, the house-flipping scheme, Mitch and Cam’s forgotten adoption—that have not been expanded upon or revisited.

If you watch Modern Family, what keeps you tuning in? Does the quickness bother you or keep you on your toes? As I discussed in my first blog post of the semester, we all have reasons why we keep watching certain TV shows. Though there are issues with the fast-paced nature of Modern Family, the hilarity, relevance and endearing nature of the characters keep me tuning in every week. With such quickly flowing plots, progressive family dynamics and variation of characters, I would venture to guess that Modern Family is the “Modern Sitcom” that, in some ways, defines our generation.

Original Author: Samantha Weisman