Modern Family

TV in my house is usually monopolized by either sports or kid shows, so I usually find other things to do. So when I do make a point of watching something, it has to be good. My favorite new show this year is Modern Family (Wednesdays 7pm CT on ABC). It has everything, sharp and funny writing, a spot-on cast, and it’s sweet without being saccharine.

It centers around family patriarch, Jay, played by Ed O’Neill (Al Bundy from Married, With Children, a show I never really cared for, incidentally). He is recently married to his second wife, Colombian-born Gloria, whose son, Manny is a worldly pre-teen. Claire is Jay’s tightly wound daughter, married to Phil, a militantly positive guy who fancies himself as a hip dad. Their daughters Haley and Alex might disagree, but son Luke is clueless enough to buy it. Jay has a son, Ivy League-educated lawyer, Mitchell, who is the polar opposite of his ebullient and carefree long-time partner, Cameron. Mitchell and Cam are new parents of a baby they adopted from Vietnam, Lily. Rounding out the extended family with guest appearances have been Shelley Long as Jay’s ex-wife and Claire and Mitchell’s newly new age mom, Benjamin Bratt as Gloria’s ex-husband and Manny’s somewhat unreliable father, and Fred Willard as Phil’s corny and upbeat dad.

One thing I enjoy pointing out is that Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cameron, is a graduate of my alma mater, Kansas State University. K-State is an excellent school, behind only a few Ivy League schools and Duke in the number of Rhodes and Marshall scholars, but not particularly known for producing any Hollywood types.

In last night’s season finale Luke is interviewing Jay about living through the 60’s. Jay’s stories of working at his dad’s office supply business and sweeping up hair at his grandfather’s barber shop are not exactly impressive to Luke so he started making stuff up about cutting the hair of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elvis. “Do you know who Martin Luther King’s barber was?” Jay asks the camera. “Neither do I,” he says.

I think I’m going to take a similar tack with Eric Stonestreet. Because no one really knows whether or not I saw him in Prelude to a Kiss, his first acting role. Though he had the smallest part in the play, I totally recognized his potential. And no one really knows whether or not I sat next to him in Principles of Advertising, but never really got to know him because I ended up dropping the class after switching majors mid-term. And no one really knows whether or not we hung out with some of the weirdos  at the Beta house after my friend Jeff threw up off the roof. But it’s more interesting if I tell it that way.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010


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