Modern Family is the new Arrested Development?

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The October 12th issue of TIME Magazine featured an article about the triumphant comeback of the sitcom this fall.  I’m glad to see new, quality sitcoms on the air, but one callout in particular caught my eye.  TIME noted that if you like Arrested Development (I do!), Modern Family (part of ABC’s Comedy Wednesday) is worth a look.

So I watched the pilot on Hulu and the show is hilarious.  A few more episodes later and I’m hooked.  The show follows three branches of an extended family in a mockumentary style reminiscent of The Office.  Jay, the patriarch has remarried a (much) younger woman, Gloria, and together they’re raising Gloria’s son from a previous marriage, Manny.  Jay’s son Mitchell and his partner Cameron have just adopted an Asian baby.  And Jay’s daughter Claire and her husband of 16 years Phil are attempting to raise their three kids (see the family tree for a visual representation).  While each nuclear family is funny in its own right, the show really shines when the plot line brings the three groups together.

In this clip from the third episode, “Come Fly with Me,” Phil tries to get closer to his father-in-law of 16 years, Jay, by hanging out with him for an afternoon flying a model plane (one of Jay’s hobbies).

So it’s funny.  But it’s not quite Arrested Development.  While Modern Family does have a big cast of well-developed characters in an oddball family, they’re not as unpredictable as the Bluths (though the BB gun in Episode 1 comes close).  For instance, in the fourth episode, “The Incident,” though Dylan’s intervention is unexpected, the contents of his song were too predictable.   That’s not to say it wasn’t funny, just not surprisingly so.

Nonetheless, the show is worth watching.  Sure, it doesn’t offer a replacement for Gob performing illusions or for Buster who’s lost his hand to a shark, but it starts to fill the void (and thanks to the upcoming movie, they’re not actually gone).  So it’s not quite Arrested Development, but it’s still very much worth the time to watch.

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