In suburbia, three modern families are tied together. There’s wealthy patriarch Jay (O’Neill), who’s recently married much-younger Latino sexpot Gloria (Vergara) and taken in her 11-year-old son Manny (Rodriguez). There’s Jay’s gay son Mitchell (Ferguson), who’s just adopted a Vietnamese baby with his partner Cameron (Stonestreet). And then there’s Jay’s daughter Claire (Bowen), who’s exhausted spending all her time looking after three children (Hyland, Winter, Gould) and her husband Phil (Burrell), the try-hard, wannabe cool Dad…
Despite having to live up to the runaway success of its deservedly Emmy-winning first season, the sophomore year of Modern Family is every inch as funny, smart and addictive. Wisely offering up more of the same, showrunners Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (no, not that Christopher Lloyd) continue to play with the familiar stereotypes and sitcom tropes they employ. True, there’s still no real ongoing plot-arcs and the show is hardly a game-changer comedy-wise, yet each episode is so consistently witty and well-written that it doesn’t matter one bit.
The clever dialogue and layered humour continues to zing (hell, even the slapstick here is amusingly handled), while the life lessons about family and relationships are surprisingly perceptive without ever veering into saccharine or cheesy territory. Admittedly, certain recurring character dynamics occasionally grate early doors (too many of Jay and Gloria’s arguments revolve around her Latino culture), yet you don’t mind given how great this ensemble is. Ed O’Neill is as great as he’s ever been as the gruff-yet-loveable patriarch Jay and there’s not a bad note throughout (the young actors deserve particular praise this time), but ultimately a couple of stand-outs emerge. On the one hand there’s Eric Stonestreet’s brilliantly-flamboyant Cam who can pinch a scene with facial expressions and body language alone (the writers also wisely deal with his and Mitchell’s lack of kissing in season one), and on the other there’s Ty Burrell note-perfect turn as try-hard cool Dad Phil. Quite sublime.
Despite having to live up to the runaway success of its brilliant first season, the sophomore year of Modern Family wisely offers more of the same and is every inch as funny, smart and addictive. Consistently terrific comedy.