Overview

Modern Family is a classic comedy TV show that few people don’t know about. Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan are the names behind this ABC title, and it was on the air between 2009 and 2020 – in other words, for eleven full seasons. Some may not know that the last few episodes were syndicated, because the rights were sold to USA Network in 2013.

In essence, Modern Family is a mockumentary style show which focuses on the lives and happenings of a large family living in the suburbs. It is well known as one of the most popular TV shows over the course of the last decade. Not only has it received high viewership ratings, it has been subject to generous critical acclaim and awards. Essentially, Modern Family has remained one of the most popular shows on TV. Furthermore, it has received a number of awards, including an Emmy for each of its first five seasons.

Premise

Modern Family has as its main character Jay Pritchett, who is part of a varied extended family. Pretty much all types of family are included in this setup – a nuclear, same-sex and step-family. The show follows these three separate but interconnected families by using a mockumentary style format.

While this filming style has been used in a number of motion pictures, Modern Family is one of the first popular TV shows (alongside The Office and Parks and Recreation) to use it. It’s one of the factors that helped to make Modern Family unique and therefore gain high levels of popularity. Other factors which contributed to its success include its extensive cast and approach to tackling modern themes.

Jay Pritchett is married to a younger Colombian immigrant, who is his second wife. He has two sons – one with his current wife, and one from his previous marriage. Jay also has a daughter, who is older. She is a businesswoman and is married with children herself. Meanwhile, Jay’s eldest son is married to another man, and they have their own adopted daughter. These characters are the backbone of Modern Family, and you will follow each type of family as they go about their daily lives and evolve, both individually and as a unit.

Modern Family has received critical acclaim for tackling a modern version of family life. If you look at the family tree for Modern Family, it can be quite complicated. Lots of people are in some way related to Jay, who is generally the center of the show. However, the beauty of Modern Family is that all of these people have their own separate storylines and issues. This intricate web of characters and varied storylines are what makes Modern Family so distinguishable.

Cast and characters

  • Jay Pritchett – Ed O’Neill
  • Gloria Delgado-Pritchett – Sofia Vergara
  • Claire Dunphy – Julie Bowen
  • Phil Dunphy – Ty Burrell
  • Mitchell Pritchett – Jesse Tyler Ferguson
  • Cameron Tucker – Eric Stonestreet

Filming locations

Most of the main filming takes place in Los Angeles, California. This shouldn’t be surprising, as most television shows and movies are shot in the area – regardless of the setting they portray.

The main house in the show is located in Cheviot Hills, CA. Many of the other outside shots (exteriors) are filmed in Westside County, Los Angeles.

Trailer

There are a number of different trailers available to view online, including features and preview trailers for upcoming seasons. On YouTube, the trailer with the most views is currently the main one for the show, which has over 1.5 million views. This trailer is actually a repost, as it was uploaded in 2011 – a full two years after the show first came out. The trailer shows a brief outline of the main family with a light-hearted musical backdrop. Other trailers and vignettes are also available.

Production

The show was created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. The duo loosely based the show on stories from their own family lives. After a number of different concepts were suggested, they settled on the premise of three interconnected families, shown in a mockumentary style.

Modern Family was originally intended to be called My American Family before the final name was settled on. The show was pitched to a number of different networks including NBC and ABC. FOX was not included, due to previous issues with the network that the creators had with a show named Back to You.

The original pilot was tested on focus groups and was said to have performed well. The show was originally ordered for 13 episodes and then extended to a  full season of 24 episodes after that.

One of the biggest stories to come from the original production of Modern Family was the litigation suit filed by the cast after the first season. Most cast members got paid up to $90,000 per episode for the first season, and after its initial success they attempted to renegotiate this figure. Talks were unsuccessful, which led to a lawsuit. Ed O’Neill joined the suit, despite earning more than most of the rest of the cast. This led to actors being paid more for subsequent seasons.

Episodes and reception

Modern Family ran between 2009 and 2020, with eleven seasons in total. There were 24 episodes in the first six seasons, followed by 22 episodes in seasons 7-10. Finally, the 11th season featured 18 episodes.

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