All of the networks have had trouble launching even one new comedy over the past decade, and those that survived often got their starts behind an established comedy, where they got spillover viewers.
"Modern Family" — about a quirk-filled, multi-generational family — is the biggest new comedy of the year and found success without having that lead-in support from an established hit show. It has averaged about 10 million viewers each week, making it consistently a Top 25 show.
Even some of the cast members are befuddled by the show's popularity.
"I'm really amazed by the show. It's confusing to me. I'm not used to this sort of comedy. I'm not sure how it's working. I just know it is," O'Neill says during an interview on the set.
The show uses similar storytelling techniques to "The Office," where a fake film crew documents the antics of the various twisted limbs on the family tree. It's fast-paced as the show bounds from sit-down interviews to voyeuristic moments.
The story centers on O'Neill's character, who married a hot, younger woman (
"There's either that flamboyant uncle or that weird dad or the hot family member who everyone wants to be with but no one can. It's just a somewhat exaggerated version of everyone's lives," Hyland says.
Bowen says it's less complicated.
"We are not curing cancer here," Bowen says. "We're just talking about ordinary things in a funny way."
A lot of the ordinary things in the scripts come directly from the cast.
Bowen talks about how her husband once wired their entire house for cameras and ended up leaving holes in the walls. She got to watch her TV husband make the same mess.
Vergara offers the best explanation for why "Modern Family" has succeeded when so many other new comedies have failed.
"It's a perfect storm. It's a combination of things like the writers, the actors and the characters," she says. "And, we are having so much fun on the set that I think you can see that."
(c) 2010, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).
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