‘Modern Family’s Exec. Producer Christopher Lloyd On The Season Finale

Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson on 'Modern Family.'  (ABC)

Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson on 'Modern Family.' (ABC)

Although happy to debate the point, the consensus here in the Fancast.com office is that ‘Modern Family‘ is the best sitcom on the air, not just the best of the now concluding TV season. We’ve enjoyed numerous laughs. In last week’s ‘Hawaii’ episode, the exchange between Cam and Mitchell about their adopted daughter’s outfit was priceless:

Mitchell: Why did you dress her in jungle print?
Cam: Because I thought it would be cute!
Mitchell: She’s going to think she’s back in Vietnam!

But it was fresh and funny from the opening episode. Take Claire and Phil Dunphy talking about their goal as parents:

Claire: I was out of control growing up, there you know, I said it. I just don’t want my kids to make the same bad mistakes I made. If Hailey never wakes up on a beach in Florida half naked, I’ve done my job.
Phil: Our job.
Claire: Right, I’ve done our job.

The show concludes its first season on Wednesday, May 19, on ABC, and ‘Modern Family’s executive producer and co-creator (with Steve Levitan), Christopher Lloyd,’ answered a few questions about this season and even gave us a look ahead to next fall.

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What were the high points of this first season? The high points of the season were certainly the great reception the pilot received, and the fact that our audience grew over time; that we were pitted against “American Idol” and still reached a season high rating last week was a gratifying sign that people are still finding the show.

Did you have a favorite episode this season? Or favorite lines? I don’t have a single favorite, but certainly “Starry Night”, “Fizbo”, “Coal Digger”, and the Christmas episode are among my favorites.  I probably have too many favorite lines to mention but I have a soft spot for the lion king moment in the pilot, as well as Manny’s “I gave her my heart and she gave me a picture of myself as an old-time sherrif”.

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Have there been any surprises this season? Anything you’re especially proud of? I think we’ve all been delighted by the way all the characters have been embraced, and mostly because of their believability and relatability.  We hear often that the characters remind people of themselves or of people they know, and that tells us we’re striking a chord.  The Phil character, as a guy who considers himself a “cool dad” but clearly isn’t, seems to have especially resonated with people, as has Cameron; I think that’s mostly because the characters are funny on the surface, but project a great vulnerability.  Perhaps the biggest surprise, per se, would be Gloria, simply because no one ever expects someone who looks like Sofia Vergara to actually be that good an actress.

Which family – or couple – has generated the most response from viewers? I think the gay couple has elicited the most vocal response, in part because of how conventional they are.  Their stories usually don’t revolve around their being gay, but around facing the same issues all parents face, which is refreshing.  The Dunphy family may seem the most relatable to people — the family which most often elicits the “that’s just what happens in our house” response — and I think the Jay-Gloria household is very endearing because people find Jay, Gloria, and Manny all funny and vulnerable in their own ways.

Do you feel that you have, in a way, reinvented the family sitcom – or given it a new, fresh twist? We certainly don’t claim to have re-invented the sitcom.  If anything, we’re telling the same types of stories that have always been told, perhaps in a slightly more contemporary way, both in terms of camera work and in terms of our willingness to show the imperfectness of the characters, particularly the parents.   We’ve gotten a fair amount of attention for actually writing some real emotion into the series and though that hardly seems revolutionary, maybe because sitcoms have felt especially arch or cynical in recent years, that does make us stand out.

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How did you approach the finale? What did you want to accomplish? We had done a fairly big, splashy episode in taking the family to Hawaii, and we wanted to get back to a more typical Modern Family episode in the finale.  It’s mostly driven by Claire’s simple desire to get the family together to shoot a family portrait.  She has a lot of difficulty accomplishing this.  It winds up being a nice representation of the unmanageable, unconventional, ungainly family which is the subject of the series, and becomes a nice bookend to the pilot which introduced us to this group (while also alluding to the “portrait” theme which is shown in our title sequence each week).

What can we look forward to next fall? Next season is in the very early planning stages at this point, but we will see, among other things, Phil and Claire caught in a compromising position in the backseat of their car, and an earthquake which literally rocks all three households.

Watch the season finale of ‘Modern Family’ Wednesday, May 19, at 9 pm on ABC.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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