"When it premiered in 2009, Modern Family was progressive and clever," Matthew Jacobs says of the ABC comedy that concludes tonight after 11 seasons. "Family sitcoms, once TV comedy’s primary sustenance, had been replaced by shows about friend groups and the workplace, yet here came one that conferred purpose via the adjective in its title. The Los Angeles clan was large, blended, fairly wealthy and ostensibly diverse, from the macho patriarch (Ed O’Neill) adapting to the ways of his younger Latina wife (Sofia Vergara) and erudite stepson (Rico Rodriguez) to the well-adjusted gay couple (Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who’d adopted a stoic Vietnamese daughter. As the 2010s dawned, Modern Family became the rare series to generate colossal ratings and critical applause....By some standards, a show like this — one that got flagship treatment from ABC — goaded Heartland viewers into imagining domesticity with a less-orthodox makeup. In no time, it found fans across political party lines, namely the Obamas and the Romneys. The Pritchett-Dunphy tribe were pretty good surrogates for a country on the cusp of a major cultural upgrade. Today, however, Modern Family will go out as an artifact that straddles two starkly different versions of America. In September 2009, Barack Obama was eight months into his first term as president. Marriage equality would be legalized in 2015, and almost every sector of public life would start to reckon with its treatment of women and minorities. But nothing gold can stay, especially not when something stays for more than a decade. As technological disruption and Donald Trump’s ascendancy changed the national ethos, Modern Family couldn’t keep up."
Co-creator Christopher Lloyd says Modern Family offered heart at a time when comedy was tilting heavily toward the cynical: "It spoils nothing to reveal that in the Modern Family finale, there is a group hug so spectacularly COVID-unsafe that one 6-foot space is occupied by 16 different people," he writes in The Hollywood Reporter. "If Seinfeld was a show about nothing (Was it? Did any comedy ever have more plot?), Modern Family was always, unabashedly, about emotion. OK, why mince words in a postapocalyptic world: It was about love. Certainly we always aimed for the high physical comedy moments: Phil, wearing a dog’s shock collar, reaching the edges of the yard … Claire smiling lugubriously at the topic of death … Gloria shooting a raft out from under Manny … Cam, in a Stanley Kowalski white T-shirt, yelling for a lost Stella, the dog."
Eric Stonestreet posts a selfie from the day of his final audition for Modern Family in 2009: "I’ve posted this picture before, but it’s important to me and it’s an important moment in my life," he writes. "I took it right before I walked out the door to go to my final test for Modern Family 11 years ago. I had been an actor for 12 years before this moment. I wish I remembered why exactly I decided to take it, but my best guess is because I knew my life could forever change once I stepped out my front door that day. I’ve looked at it 1000 times. And what I see in it is: hope, fear, and determination."