An outstanding debut season for ‘Modern Family’ came to an end with this episode in which uptight Claire tries to get everyone together for a family portrait. (Kobe Bryant has a cameo, presumably as part of his ongoing rehabilitation. Although with his fifth ring safely gathered he should worry about his reputation, I suppose.) There hasn’t been a poor episode in the season; ‘Modern Family’ hit a remarkable level of consistency early on and kept going, registering both critical and popular success.
Crucial to that success has been the cast. Most comedy writers would be overjoyed to have the performances of the Ty Burrell/Eric Stonestreet/Ed O’Neill triumvirate at their disposal, and although all of the cast members have invited Emmy consideration as supporting actors I’ll be surprised if at least two of that trio don’t feature on the nominations list. But you might need to go back to ‘Cheers’ in its pomp to find such strength in depth in a sitcom ensemble: Sofia Vergara (in her second language), Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Bowen have all had great years. And there hasn’t been a failure among the kids either, with particularly strong performances by the remarkable Rico Rodriguez as Manny, and a slow-burner by Nolan Gould as Luke.
Is there too much hugging and learning? Nope. In fact, it’s very quietly revolutionary in its portrayal of what, twenty years ago, would have been regarded as a completely unconventional family: what’s striking is how normal it all feels, and how much, in the final analysis, they all love each other. Most importantly, though, it’s very funny indeed. A terrific show, and a great season.