Actors: Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Sarah Hyland, Sofia Vergara
Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 3
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: September 22, 2015
Run Time: 556 minutes
The mockumentary style of television has become a standard style after the success of “The Office,” though “Modern Family” gives it a suburban household twist. We don’t know why the characters are talking to the camera, but it provides ample opportunity for humor, as does the option of acknowledging the camera’s existence during the action as well. What it all comes down to is the interesting characters, and in this way “Modern Family” also seems to be mimicking the success of “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation,” filtered through the typical set-up of a family situation comedy.
The show follows three extended families all tied together, and are also conveniently comprised of three types of family structures typically seen in modern times. There is the traditional family with a wife, Claire (Julie Bowen), husband, Phil (Ty Burrell), and their three children, Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould). Claire’s brother, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), his husband, Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and their adopted daughter, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), make up the second family, with Claire and Mitchell’s father comprising the third family. Jay (Ed O’Neill) is married to a much younger second wife, Gloria (Sofia Vergara), with a son named Manny (Rico Rodriguez) from another marriage, as well as a new toddler. These characters are embellished further with extreme personalities and absurd situations.
As this show goes into its sixth season, it is clear that some things need to change. There are some formats that remain the same, primarily in the personalities of the adults, but the younger kids from earlier seasons are now growing into adulthood. Haley is already graduated, despite still living at home and struggling to figure out what to do next, while Alex is in the process of deciding what college to attend. It should come as no surprise to the storyline to find that she chooses a school which will allow her to stay nearby and involved in the plot. Meanwhile it is not only the characters that are growing older, but also the actors that play them. Gould is currently going through puberty while on the show, which would not be horrible if it weren’t for the fact that his acting skills have been exposed with the disappearance of his cute demeanor. It is clear that they are attempting to use Luke a lot less now, which is a wise choice now that his performance is noticeably lacking. It almost seems as if Haley’s new romantic interest played by Adam DeVine was brought in as a replacement character for this gap in the show. The other aging actor is the young girl playing Lily, and although her acting appears to be salvageable, the character has become increasingly unbearable as they have allowed it to develop. I suppose it makes sense that Lily would be a bit selfish and tyrannical with Cameron as a father and role model.
Attempting to revive the formula of the series after five successful seasons, there are a few other changes to the sixth season. Along with new characters that include medical marijuana dispensary owning neighbors Ronnie (Steve Zahn) and Amber (Andrea Anders), there are a few episodes that also push the format in new directions. “The Day We Almost Died” focuses on one storyline, rather than the typical split narrative between the three families, and “Connection Lost” was an innovative episode that takes place entirely on Claire’s laptop with the use of Skype videos to connect her to each of the characters. Many of the narratives within this show mirror familiar sitcom structures that go back as far as “I Love Lucy;” miscommunications abound and characters hide mistakes until the truth eventually blows up in their face. Even with this formulaic style, it is impressive that “Modern Family” continues to find ways to remain innovative and fresh.
The DVD release of the sixth season includes all 24 episodes on three discs. The special features also include a handful of featurettes, behind the scenes footage, and deleted scenes. There are featurettes for two of the holiday episodes, as well as a feature about the making of an episode and a day with Julie Bowen on set.
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 7/10