A few weeks ago, Sarah and I finished watching the first season of Modern Family. It is hilarious and touching. I don't remember when we have laughed so much at a TV show. We recommended it to Michael and Elizabeth, and they were instantly addicted.
Here's the basic story line. Jay (formerly played Al Bundy) is a traditional, white, slightly bigoted 50-something man. He is remarried to a hot, much younger Columbian woman with a 10 year old son. Jay has two adult kids who have families of their own: Claire and Mitchel. Claire is married to a cheesy but funny guy, and they have 3 kids. Mitchel and his partner Cameron have adopted a baby girl from Vietnam. The story is simply their mixed-up life together as one big extended family.
The show is in a mock-umentary format. In other words, there is a mixture of standard sitcom-type footage and some private interview time. It's similar to The Office in format. Often the interview bits are the most hilarious. Sarah and I were often rolling around laughing during these. We found ourselves quoting and remembering and laughing again in the days after we watched an especially good episode. This is always a sign of excellence in a TV show.
However, the humor - as great as it is - may not be the best part of the show. Modern Family does two other things very well.
1) They show people learning to love each other for who they are - with all of their ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, lovability and annoyingness. The show in poignant in its understanding and expression of the difficulties and joys of family life. Part of the humor comes from our identification with the very sticky and awkward situations that families often encounter. But through it all, they stick it out and genuinely show love and concern for each other - even if that requires change and sacrifice.
2) The show constantly sets up stereotypes and then explodes them. The gay, uber emotional partner also played as an offensive lineman in college football. The hot Columbian younger wife is also very smart and emotively aware. The ADD kid who is always breaking things completes an outstanding school project on Van Gogh - without the help of his ADD father, who was supposed to be supervising him. The stereotypical old white guy somehow comes around again and again to appreciate the beautiful diversity in his family.
We loved this show, and so the Josh rating is without a doubt 5 J's: JJJJJ!