Modern Family took home the trophy for achievements on the small screen at the annual Writers Guild Awards, held yesterday in Los Angeles.
New series: Modern Family.
Episodic comedy: “Apollo, Apollo,” 30 Rock, written by Robert Carlock, and the pilot of Modern Family, written by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd.
While accepting one of two awards for Modern Family, creator/executive producer Steve Levitan told the crowd that because TV was “so screwed up and mismanaged,” many of his writing peers have been rooting for the single-camera comedy’s success on ABC. “Thanks for that, Jeff Zucker,” Levitan said — a reference to the NBC Universal Chairman’s failed attempt to launch Jay Leno’s show in prime time, which put many writers out of work this season.
What seemed in early fall a rare outbreak of inspired television writing has in recent months become something rarer—not an epidemic, exactly, but a season impressively stocked with creations drenched in wit and enterprise, all unmistakably reflective of a drive toward formula busting. These things are, of course, always relative. In television these days, one quality hit a season—especially in the impossibly snare-infested comedy genre—seems a lot; two is like breaking the bank.
Yet we’re now finishing a television year that has seen both the emergence of ABC’s uproarious“Modern Family” and its less dazzling but wonderfully mordant lead-in, “The Middle,” about another kind of modern family—a brew of consistent charm and character with a bracing hint of nightmarish reality underlying its sitcom fun. Add to these the most unexpected gem of all—NBC’s “Community,” a satire set in the unlikely precincts of a community college. Its creator, Dan Harmon, was, by his own account, inspired by the semester he once spent at one in pursuit of an effort to strengthen ties with his girlfriend. That relationship didn’t work out in the end, but, happily, the same can’t be said of this whip-smart series about an improbably compelling band of adults taking classes at a sunny academic hell called Greendale Community College.
These were comedies that lit out for new territory and that delivered, at least, persuasive approximations thereof. Of none was this truer than that creation of old “Frasier” hands Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, “Modern Family”—a hugely ambitious, hilarious and royally self-assured enterprise involving three family-connected couples. So seductive are each of these portraits, it’s become clear as the series runs on, that the show’s only problem is finding a way to fit all of them, and their delectable situations, into a satisfying share of what is, after all, only a half-hour format.
Read the Full story on the WSJ.
“Modern Family,” “Glee,” “Community” and “The Good Wife” are some of the breakout shows that could get a nod.
It’s no wonder the Golden Globes have a reputation for being more fun than the rather stately affairs that usually bring out Hollywood’s A-list. After all, broadcasting live from the Beverly Hilton on Jan. 17 and keeping the Champagne flowing is bound to loosen things up. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s biggest night is also known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to honoring first-season TV shows — partly because of being the first TV-related ceremony of the calendar year and partly because of its envelope-pushing attitude.
This season offers a ballroom full of potentials that could strike the fancy of the HFPA’s 83 voting members — among them “Modern Family,” “FlashForward” and “The Good Wife.”
On the comedy side, ABC’s “Modern Family” seems to have put a spring in the steps of critics. Although executive producers Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd are modest about the show’s success, Levitan is happy for the recognition. “One of the reasons that it might be striking a chord is because there’s a sense of optimism,” Levitan says. “We don’t try to dodge emotion.”
Lloyd, who went to many an Emmy ceremony during his years on “Frasier,” says that seeing the show nominated as a whole would be a thrill. “There are lots of individual awards that come and go, and they’re wonderful, but they can have the effect of making people feel just a bit left out. Because [the Globe] recognizes everybody who works on the show, that’s one that you can really rally behind.”
Read the full story at LA Times.
Barry Garron from Reuters selected Modern Family as one of the top 10 TV series of the decade:
Every decade has its landmark TV shows, and there will or should never be complete agreement on which 10 series belong at the top of the list.
10. MODERN FAMILY
* ABC, 2009-present
It’s a little risky to pick a new show as one of the best of the decade, even after seeing about a dozen episodes. In the case of “Modern Family,” the risk is minimized by the track record of its creators, Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. At a time when most new shows are just finding themselves, this one has been so consistently funny, smartly produced and crisply written that it has all the earmarks of a classic in the making.
Boston.com has a great review of ABC’s Modern Family, here is part of it:
Maybe it was when 10-year-old Manny put down his newspaper to get another cup of espresso, like a little executive Buddha, or maybe it was when he insisted on wearing his traditional Colombian poncho to grade school, that it came to me: “Modern Family’’ is an instantly lived-in and fleshed-out sitcom. The ABC comedy arrived in September fully formed, filled with the rich inner life that usually only exists on a TV series over time. The characters are already indelible.
And that’s a rare thing, especially for a sitcom. Good half-hour comedies usually take many months to find themselves, to define their individuality (see: “Seinfeld’’). ABC’s “Better Off Ted’’ and NBC’s “Parks and Recreation’’ – both series with promise – are currently following that more familiar route, trying to discover their distinctive mojo while they’re on the air, hoping not to become just more brokedown sitcom chassis by the side of the road.
Each a member of the sitcom class of 2009 and each a single-camera show, “Modern Family,’’ “Better Off Ted,’’ and “Parks and Recreation’’ actually stand a chance of joining the likes of “Scrubs’’ and “Extras’’ in the canon. “Better Off Ted,’’ which returns for season 2 on Dec. 8, is a solid setup crying out for tweaks; “Parks and Recreation,’’ now in season 2, has just been nicely tweaked; and “Modern Family’’ is in need of no tweaks whatsoever. It is just right. They represent three marks on the map to sitcom excellence, with “Modern Family’’ already having reached the destination point.
Created by Steven Levitan (“Just Shoot Me’’) and Christopher Lloyd (“Frasier’’), “Modern Family’’ is a rare pleasure. The family dynamic among the large collection of characters feels thoroughly established, as if their histories are genuinely interwoven. Ed O’Neill’s Jay is the father – of Claire, who’s married to Phil and has three kids, and of Mitchell, who’s living with Cameron and has an infant daughter. Jay has a second family, too, with a much-younger wife, Gloria, from Colombia and a stepson, the inimitable Manny. When the three families interact, you can see all the casual intimacy, resentment, stubbornness, and forgiveness of an extended family in play.
Within the group chemistry, each character is finely etched. Among the most vivid are Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), a queeny gay man who once played football, and Gloria (Sofia Vergara), who unwittingly torments her husband with stories of her early sex life. And, of course, there’s Manny (Rico Rodriguez), the little guy who swoons over older girls and fences like a royal prince. These characters are already beautifully established, and yet you can detect the actors’ pleasure as they discover more and more about their roles with each episode.
Read the rest of the review at Boston.com
Another guest star on “Modern Family”: Fred Willard, who played on “Back To You” with Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, will be welcomed to “Modern Family” by “Back To You” executive producers Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd on December 9th.
ABC confirms that the comedic actor has been cast as Phil (Ty Burrell)’s father, though he’ll appear just briefly on a computer screen as he and Phil chat online during the show’s Christmas episode.
AOL TV blog has an interview with Ty Burrell, who plays Phil Dunphy the “cool dad” on ABC’s breakout comedy ‘Modern Family’. Here are some parts of the interview:
This is the third show you’ve done with Christopher Lloyd. What do you think is working this time?
I think that there’s something — if I must be so pretentious to use this word — something in the zeitgeist of this style of show. I just don’t think we’ve seen a family comedy sprung this way. Chris and Steve [are] getting to write jokes that don’t have quite as much pressure on the punchline. But I also think … that they built this incredible machine — a structure to the show of the three families. It’s so open-ended and so infinite as far as having possibilities for storylines without exhausting them or having the well run dry. Each storyline ends of being five or six minutes apiece per show, and it’s a perfect construct in the age of the Internet and five-minute videos. For [Chris and Steve], the funny part isn’t the issue. The real stroke of genius, and I just bow down to their ability, is how they built the vehicle of the show. These folks love each other even though they’re constantly messing up or stepping on each other or hurting each other’s feelings. It’s not so snarky that it keeps you at arm’s length.
The mockumentary format is popular these days with shows like ‘The Office’ and ‘Parks and Recreation.’ What about this style has been hardest for you as an actor?
I would say you have to pace yourself in a way. ['Modern Family'] is a very drawn-out process. The preparation at night has been really learning how to get your sleep, how to get my rest and prepare properly so that you’re basically ready every day. The cool thing about the form, if you have some ideas, you can throw it on the wall and see if it sticks. I don’t want to lose that spirit and I think that’s one of those things that’s made me want to come in prepared every day so I have the energy to want to add things and not just getting into a place where you’re punching a clock. Luckily, I’m playing a guy who is so well intended and such a positive force while he’s wreaking havoc.
Shelley Long was fantastic.
Yeah, she was amazing. We have an episode with Elizabeth Banks and Edward Norton and they’re both hilarious in it.
How was that plane flying into your nose simulated?
[laughs]. Well it was me out there hamming it up with nothing, and then they brought in the plane and flew it into a green-screen head. So, believe it or not, it was a blast. I’d stayed up the night before practicing my falls on my bed like an eight-year-old boy. It’s the pure essence of why this job is so good — a 48-year-old man bouncing on my bed at one in the morning.
Marconi Calindas from The Examiner asked today whether Modern Family stereotypes a gay couple:
Yet the question is about the inclusion of a gay couple, which one of them is part of the “modern” family, whether the new show is stereotyping gay men in our society. The gay couple played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet actually are not the physically typical gay men portrayed in most TV shows that are drop dead gorgeous, coming out of a perfume or denim jeans print ads. This couple is one of the “common” gay couples in the world: one being overly healthy and one with facial hair. The gay couple adopted an Asian baby and now is struggling to pass parenthood.
One blogger calls the series stereotyping the gay couples with baby adoption, neatness, argyle cashmere shirts, flamboyant dance moves, snootiness, Meryl Streep and Costco virginity among many others. Getback.Com says “Although on the surface Mitchell and Cameron seem like cliches, they also have an understated, genuine quality in their relationship that keeps them from being gay caricatures.”
Is that stereotyping?
Perhaps it’s the creators Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd’s (“Frasier,” “Just Shoot Me,” and “Back to You”) objective in the first place as they can’t put all the different gay stereotyped characters in the show.
The best thing here is that the show finally has brought back gay characters on mainstream TV after the demise of Will and Grace and Queer As Folk.
What do you think?