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September 3, 2015

Ed O'Neill shines on Modern Family

by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 25th 2009 7:01PM
One of the true breakout hits of this fall season is ABC's sitcom Modern Family. The critics have been singing the praises of this show, and the ratings have been good enough that I will predict without equivocation, that Modern Family will see a second season. And Ed O'Neill deserves a lot of the credit.

I like Modern Family. I don't love, love, love it, but I like it. The guys that were together on Frasier, Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, have given us something good here. It's not Frasier level yet, but it might get there with time.

If there's one part of Modern Family that has won me over completely, it's Ed O'Neill. You might think, well, sure, it's Ed O'Neill. But I have never liked Ed. I was never a fan of Married With Children. I loathed it. And don't tell me I'm a moron for saying that; it's just a show that never worked for me.

Modern Family, however, does work. The ensemble is first rate, with big props for Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell -- did you know his two previous two sitcoms had a Lloyd or Levitan connection, too, Back to You and Out of Practice? I also think the young actor playing Manny, Rico Rodriguez, is wonderful.

But the glue holding all this comedy together is Ed O'Neill. He's the patriarch of this disparate modern family, whether he wants to be or not. And that's how he plays it. He's not touchy-feely and into emotional confrontations. He's not overjoyed at being a step-father at this point in his life. He's got issues. Jay is the center of most of the action, the catalyst for much of the comedy.

Kudos to Ed O'Neill for bringing a lot of subtext -- and wry humor -- to this character.

[You can watch Modern Family on SlashControl.com.]

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Frasier was smart and funny (not really liking his new show Hank though). Two and a Half Men is hilarious. I'm liking Modern Family, Cougar Town, and The Middle out of the new shows. Oh and The Cleveland Show is awesome!

October 26 2009 at 3:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All this talk about Frasier's quality and Married With Children is missing the point about Ed O'Neil.

If you watched John from Cincinnati, you knew how awesome he was separated from Al Bundy. In fact, his character in John From Cincinnati was much more interesting and authentic than his character on Modern Family.

I think MF would be better if it didn't rely on the psuedo-documentary shots. That style is already tired, which proves how terrible the current crop of TV writers, directors, and producers are--they see something take off like The Office and the cult following it has and everyone decides they must replicate it 'with their own spin'. All MF is is a traditional sitcom shot like a documentary.

It's not bad. We've watched a few of the episodes and parts made us laugh. In fact, aside from Hank, the Wed. night ABC lineup is pretty funny when you think about the wealth of unfunny sitcoms that pollute television.

October 26 2009 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Justin's comment

Fair enough, Justin and I agree with you on at least one point - I thought Ed O'Neill was briliant on John from Cincinatti as well. The article is correct in that he is really the anchor of this show.

As to faux documentary style versus traditional sitcom:
Traditional sitcom is basically dead. Today, we are only going to get dramedy with no laugh track or faux documentary. POV interviews to get the characters insight is the part that is starting to wear thin. I think a format like Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is kind of a hybrid of traditional sitcom and documentary style is a better way to do it. You don't get the mugging for the camera dead on interview and you get more of what seems like reality.

October 26 2009 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think one of the reasons I like Modern Family is that even though they aren't a typical family they all like each other and want to get along. There's nobody that's just outright mean to the other family members.

Contrast that to Two and a Half Men, also about a family, and the joke structure is this:
1. Jon Cryer says anything.
2. Charlie Sheen insults him to his face about either being gay, like a woman, or pathetic.
3. Repeat for 22 min.

I think there's too much mean and nastiness on TV and Modern Family proves you can be funny without showing people be downright terrible to each other.


October 26 2009 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It seems that Married With Children is one of those love it or hate it things. And I absolutely hated it. The biggest reason was because of the atrocious acting of Ed O'Neil. There were certainly plenty of other reasons, but that was the main one. I have seen better, more polished performances in high school plays. That a show with such horrible acting, despicable characters and lousy writing could attain the level of success that it did always baffled me. Also, it wasnt funny. Normally, even if I dont like a show, I can see were it would appeal to other people, different strokes for different folks, you know, but the appeal of MWC was and is a mystery to me.
As for Modern Family , I havent watched it yet, so I cant comment. I would like to put my two cents worth in in defense of Frazier. Frazier was a great show, exceptionally well written and acted. I didnt catch all the literary , culinary and other high brow refererences, but even so, it was a superior and very entertaining show. Yes, the quality varied, as it does over the course of any long running show, but it was a smart, funny and entertaining show about characters that we could like and care about. If you ask me, thats pretty darn good for a 30 minute sitcom.

October 26 2009 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think you were supposed to like "Married" because you obviously are not a teen-age dork boy who had a father like Ed Bundy and who aspired to even see a girl like Kelly Bundy, In other words: Bud Bundy was the target audience and Fox hit it out of the park for those guys. So it's fine not to like everything on TV.
My only complaint with this new show is it seems too busy, but yet you need all the different elemens for the payoff mob scenes. It's OK stuff. Too early to tell if it can even keep up plot lines for a second season.

October 26 2009 at 4:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frantic Monkey

emmefff - I'm not sure if you meant that Parks & Rec will be cancelled this season or some time in the future, but NBC announced that it's picking it up for the rest of this season the other day.

Parks & Rec is a laugh out loud show for me. I absolutely love it and have done since about the 3rd episode of the short 1st season.

To get back on point to the content of this post, I just don't find Modern Family to be funny at all, and to suggest that it could get to "Frasier level" is not something that I would be happy about. However, there seem to be a number of people who think it gives off an Arrested Development vibe so I may end up giving it another shot. Arrested Development to me is the second best sitcom of all time behind Seinfeld.

October 26 2009 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We actually think that Modern Family is great. We always loved Ed O'Neill since Married With Children and happy to see him again


October 26 2009 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Riley Freeman

im going to watch this show . i loved married with children so im going to find out when its on and give it a shot. or go look for it online.

but u i can see why u wouldnt like married with children. it wasnt very kind to women. peg was a stay at home do nothing useless wife. kelly was the dumb blonde bimbo and al made fun of every fat woman and drooled at every big breasted airhead that came on the show.

nevertheless it was one of my favourite shows. second only to seinfeld

October 25 2009 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

5 years? lol

Wow... were you folks born in the 1990's or something?

Frasier was on for 11 seasons... some better than others.

However, I don't see the comparison. I liked Frasier. Sure, it had better seasons and some weaker seasons, but it was entertaining. Modern Family, meanwhile, touches on brilliance.

I guess the connection is the production team, but I think that's about as far as it goes...

I do think the potential for Modern Family is far greater, though far shorter than Frasier... It's just the nature of it... it will burn brighter, but will run out of steam faster than the slower burn of the more traditional sitcom that Frasier represented..... that said, as Kelsey Grammer is finding out, the old model sitcom's time has passed for now.

October 25 2009 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mike's comment

Mike - 5 years is funny? Hilarious. You must be easily amused. Read it again, Mike. I said 5 years OR MORE. I dont care if it was on for 11 years, that wasn't the point - I watched about 5 years of it and then turned it off because it got to be repetitive. Whatever.

Modern Family is funny now and no one can say how long it will last. The writers are doing a good job so far, but that's the question with any new show, will it last? If they get 60 episodes and maintain the quality, it will be worth it.

Frantic - didn't know Parks and Rec got picked up for the rest of the season. I guess ratings don't matter as much for NBC, so that's good for fans, I am just not one of them. But, I share your opinion of best sitcom ever - for me, it is Seinfeld, hands down.

October 26 2009 at 8:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

haha 5 years OR MORE.
The Simpsons is/was a pretty good show; it was on for 2 years OR MORE!!

October 26 2009 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Cook is my Idol!

I've only gotten to see it once, but I liked what I saw and will have to give it another chance sometime. I just hope it doesn't turn out to be anything like Everybody Loves Raymond. I'm sorry, but I hated that show.

As for Frasier, I like it, but think it was a little over-rated. I always preferred Wings, which was created by the same people.

October 25 2009 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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