Monday, September 27, 2010

Share a Moon Landing With Your Couch and Watch Modern Family

It’s tough to be the best at something. Many try but only a handful succeed. Abraham Lincoln is considered the best president we’ve ever had, although he probably wasn’t trying for that mantle when he was in office as restoring the Union was a little more important. Michael Jordan is the best basketball player to lace them up, but converse to Lincoln, he was actually trying to achieve that title. And of course Daniel-san was the best at karate, but only because Joe Esposito sang a song about it.

I am prone to say a day of the week is the best for TV watching (Thursday). I also like to say what is not the best aspect of TV (Jim Parsons’s Emmy win). Today I’m going to use this space to lay claim to what I believe is the best show on TV, ABC’s Modern Family.

The main reason this show is the best on television is it is as funny as it intends to be. How people watch garbage like The Big Bang Theory and laugh is beyond me. It’s not funny. Nor was According to Jim or Dharma and Greg, but those shows lasted for years while Arrested Development had to beg to stay on air. Where’s the justice? I bet Lincoln wouldn’t have gone for that.

One way you know the show is funny, aside from the dead giveaway of your own laughter, is you laugh without the coercion of a laugh track. Fortunately this technique is going the way of the dinosaur, but some shows that aren’t as secure in their humor still use them. Most of these shows can be found on CBS. For a show like The Big Bang Theory that runs a laugh track on scenes that aren’t funny, the viewers are so confused why they should be laughing that they might miss the one funny line in the show because they’ve disregarded the opinion of the laugh track. A laugh track is nothing more than the networks trying to tell you when to laugh. Well Mr. Network I’ll laugh when I want to laugh. And it won’t be during a scene like this (warranted Emmy my ass).

Not only is Modern Family funny as a whole, but every character is worth their screen time. Even the least appealing characters bring their own value to the scenes they are in. For what it’s worth I think the Dunphy kids are said characters, but they’d be the top attraction on Rules of Engagement, and David Spade might try to date the oldest one.

Phil and Cameron, along with Jack Donaghy and Larry David, are the four funniest characters on comedy shows. Everything Phil and Cameron say is funny. This is a tribute to both the actors for capturing what the writers create and to the writers for creating characters that are so appealing. Manny is close to the Phil-Cam level, but only because he’s a 40 year old man stuck in an adolescent’s body. He’s like an Hispanic Josh Baskins with a hotter mom.

Aside from the humor the show provides, another thing that makes the show great is it is a believable comedy. There is no fat guy with a knock-out wife. There aren’t six twenty-somethings living in a major city with shitty jobs but kick-ass apartments. This is part of what made Seinfeld and Cheers so great. Everyone sits around with their friends talking about nothing. The cast of Modern Family is reflective of the current American society. Jay, Gloria, Manny, The Dunphys, Cameron and Mitchell all represent divorce, remarriage, step-children, adoption, gay couples, stressed out moms, naïve dads, and kids being kids. Show me one family in America that doesn’t have at least some of those qualities in their own life and I’ll show you a liar. Or maybe two.

Finally, and not that I would suggest this, but if you miss a week of Modern Family you don’t mail in the season. Shows like 24, Lost, and others require a weekly commitment. Look, most of us have things to do and times come up where an episode needs to be missed. Miss a week of 24 and you might as well have never turned it on. But if you need a Jack Bauer fix, if you pay him enough, maybe Kiefer Sutherland will come and yell at you for your busy life. Just make sure you have a step-ladder and an ignition interlock system.

“Tell me where you were!”
/shoots you in the calf
“I said tell me where you were!”

“I had to take my kids to their hockey game. Jesus Christ you didn’t have to shoot me you psychopath!”

“I’m sorry. I get carried away. I just hate to see people miss Modern Family.”

See, even Jack Bauer watches it. And so should you.

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