Modern Family: The Complete Third Season
Fox Home Entertainment
Starring: Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet
Best for: Parents and Teens
PopFam Rating: B
Show Summary: Extended relatives form three modern American families - with all the laughter and tears that brings.
There are at least two good reasons to watch the third season of Modern Family.The first reason is that this collection of sitcom episodes is actually funny.
Not since Friends ruled the TV-world has a better combination of witty scriptwriting matched with a talented cast of comedic actors. That modern marriage means plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in every episode, and even a few of those heartwarming scenes that make you go "aww" while you tenderly squeeze your spouse's hand.
The second reason to watch Modern Family season 3 is wrapped up in the first reason, but still worth mentioning:
Playing middle-aged dad, Phil Dunphy, Burrell brings a special joy and charisma to the role. He's so much fun to watch, he makes the whole show worthwhile! Whether he's making up some random new game to play with his son, desperately trying to earn the approval of his gruff father-in-law, or just enjoying a little alone-time with his wife, Ty Burrell makes Phil Dunphy into a real (and very funny) person - somebody you kind of wish lived next door to you. It only takes a few episodes to see that he richly deserved the Emmy Award he took home for this role.
Now, for those who are unfamiliar with Modern Family, perhaps a little explanation is in order. The premise is this: Three families, all related to each other, live and love and laugh as they struggle to get by. The three families all represent different family groups vying for space in today's America: 1) An older man married to a trophy-wife younger woman (Jay & Gloria Pritchett). 2) A "traditional" family of dad, stay-at-home mom, and three kids (Jay's daughter Claire and her husband, the aforementioned Phil Dunphy). 3) And a gay couple with adopted children (Jay's son, Mitchell, and Mitchell's partner Cameron).
Dedicated to their families and each other, these characters face remarkably funny, everyday trials associated with their different definitions of the family unit, all the while working to love and accept each other - even when they drive each other crazy. The result is a super-sized sitcom hit that's earned nearly a dozen Emmy Awards and become the highest-rated comedy currently on television.
Within all that ratings-merriment, it's fair to say that the shoehorned setup of Mitchell and Cameron as the ""see-gay couples-are-just-like-everyone-else!" morality tale is sometimes eye-rollingly strained. Still, for the most part, this intentionally controversial relationship is played with warmth and humor and reasonable restraint. Eric Stonestreet as Cameron (Mitchell's life partner) is particularly enjoyable to watch, taking gay stereotypes and playing them with such enthusiasm and grounded personality, he steals just about every scene he's in. Parents may not approve of Cam's lifestyle or his socio-political role on the show...but chances are very good they'll laugh at his style and panache anyway.
Still, many parents will find the homosexual agenda integrated into the fabric of the show as off-putting, particularly because it is so obviously intended to play as a "gay role model" situation for kids and teens. Of course, if your family members pattern their lives after TV characters, that may be a bigger problem to address...
Regardless, if you decide to watch this show with your family, be aware that your kids may have questions about the relationship between Cameron and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). You should be prepared to talk about how TV values reflect or don't reflect your own family values, and how they reflect our societal values as a whole.
If your family chooses to enjoy (and talk about!) Modern Family together, then season three offers a number of wonderful moments. Some of my personal favorites are:
- "Phil on a Wire," when the good Mr. Dunphy decides he needs to learn how to tightrope walk (which leads to Ty Burrell delivering unforgettable slapstick comedy);
- "Treehouse," where Phil and his son Luke (Nolan Gould) begin a construction project in the backyard, while Cameron plays it "straight" to win a bet with Mitchell; and, of course,
- "Disneyland," where the entire extended family all visit the Happiest Place on Earth for a day.
Because this show deals with complex, and sometimes volatile social issues, and because it doesn't shy away from sex-talk (gay and straight) or implied sexual situations, it's probably not ideal for younger children. But for parents and mature teenagers, Modern Family: The Complete Third Season, could be a nice way to laugh through a few evenings together. Plus, it could provide a non-threatening way to start meaningful conversations with your teen about family, family values, and relationships as a whole.
Are all 24 episodes in this sitcom collection perfect?
No, of course not.
Are they worth watching anyway?
Well, if you like to laugh and aren't easily offended by TV morality, then yeah - this show is a blast. Enjoy it at will.
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