Synopsis: A satirical look at three different families and the trials they face in each of their own uniquely comedic ways.
Creators: Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd
Stars: Ed O’Neill, Sofía Vergara and Ty Burrell
Serious Jest: (Queue It) Ever wonder what Al Bundy (Married with Children) might be like as a grandfather, if he started his own successful business, married a hot Latina, and spent a bunch of time with her intelligent, chubby kid with a good heart and old soul? Well, O’Neill is not exactly Bundy in this show, but he brings every bit of the “guy’s guy” to his Jay Pritchett character. In fact, I just read that O’Neill learned (and still practices) Brazilian Ju-Jitsu from the Gracie family (often credited for elevating BJJ to a mainstream, respected martial arts style throughout the world), earned his black belt in 2007 (after 15 years of training), and was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an outside linebacker in 1969 (although he was cut from the team before the start of the regular season), so he is officially a bona fide bad-ass. I especially enjoy his head-to-head exchanges with Benjamin Bratt when he guest stars as Javier Delgado, Pritchett’s wife’s (Vergara’s) ex-husband and father of her son.
This show is hilarious, clever, witty, and endearing, and the entire cast is top-notch. Rico Rodriguez often steals the show as that intelligent, chubby kid I mentioned above; he’s working with great scripts, but he nails every line, gesture, and non-verbal cue; that kid’s got a bright future ahead of him. Vergara and Julie Bowen skillfully balance hot and eccentric. At first, I found Burrell’s character, Phil Dunphy, to be creepy and unlikable, but Burrell quickly developed him into a goofy, ADD-stricken, creative, and loving father, who is now one of my favorite characters on the show. Nolan Gould masterfully displays many of Phil’s characteristics in his own way, making him very believable as Burrell’s son. Eric Stonestreet is funny and charismatic as Cameron Tucker, Pritchett’s son’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson‘s) domestic partner and co-father (is that the right word?) of a little Asian girl (I’m assuming that this was a sarcastic move by the show, since it’s so intelligent in all other respects); I believe that the decision to make him a former Missouri farmhand and University of Illinois football player was great in that it would have added another dimension to his character, breaking from the stereotype that all gays are effeminate, but unfortunately, whether it’s due to the script or Stonestreet’s acting decisions, Cam is a big queen (he even runs like an uncoordinated little girl, making his college football and farm careers unbelievable), and the benefit of that background piece is lost.
All in all, though, this show is consistently great. I know that I will laugh and be entertained every time that I watch an episode. I would recommend that everyone set aside time to watch this series at some point.