So different, yet strangely alike. Two important television takes on the family life. Although the basic premise is essentially the same for both shows – comedic depiction of everyday life of an American family – the similarities (formula-wise) probably end here.
While ‘Married… with Children’ is a typical sitcom with a laugh track, ‘Modern Family’ is a mockumentary, pseudo-documentary where the fourth wall is systematically broken, a type of show which really experienced its renaissance in the 2000s (I say it’s all because of Ricky Gervais and his brilliant ‘The Office’).
Foul-mouthed, loud and let’s be fair, moronic Bundies stand in contrast to Pritchetts and Dunphys, who are well-off, educated (Haley, Luke and Phil might sometimes seem goofy, but they’re certainly not on Kelly Bundy’s level), and all in all they are valuable members of society. ‘Modern Family’ much more frequently attempts to tackle the issues people have to deal with these days, such as homosexuality, tolerance, multiculturalism, or even the technology advancement and its impact on the interpersonal relations.
On the other hand I’d argue that there is no preaching involved in ‘Married… with Children’. It’s a show for the laughs only, but boy, it works. The show was probably one of the funniest sitcoms ever made, and it accompanied the childhood of mine and many of my friends. Every time I catch myself sticking my hand into my pants while watching something, reminds me of Al sitting on his couch and it makes me realize that I should thank him for helping me to form the habit I mentioned.
‘Married… with Children’ was a show about dummies, no doubt about that, yet it was genuinely funny. Television today often assumes that by simply putting dumb characters together and make them do dumb things it will instantly turn the program into a hit. It takes much more than that and the cast is possibly the most important.
Ed O’Neill has to be mentioned at this point, as he seems to excel as the head of a family, be it in ‘Married… with Children’ or ‘Modern Family’. Al Bundy the shoe salesman is a legendary television character, and while Jay Pritchett is not as distinctive of an individual, he certainly is a curious persona himself, and O’Neill does solid gold job as Jay.
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy is incredible
What both shows promote is the idea that the family should stand strong no matter what. Whether this smallest society unit is dysfunctional or not, loving and caring relationships between family members go a long way.
There is this saying in Polish which says that ‘you only look good with your family members in photographs’, and it means that those closest to you are the ones who will most ardently gossip about you or even get you in trouble.
I believe it’s all about your own attitude. Even in the show like ‘Married… with Children’ where every Bundy acts behind the other’s back, at the end of the day they all cared greatly for each other – I could see it when I was a little kid, and I can still see it now.
‘Modern Family’ finished its 5th season last week. In my opinion the show still stays fresh and engaging and I certainly want to see more of it. There’s still plenty of space for the characters to grow emotionally. The fact that the child actors are getting older also allow for new plot developments.
All in all, in few years I will certainly have ‘Modern Family’ placed on the classics shelf, next to ‘Married… with Children’. Great, recommendable shows.