In the final episode of Modern Family, a character called her family “years of uninterrupted crazy,” encapsulating the essence of the entire series and its decade-long journey with us, the audience. Think of Modern Family as a sanitised, comic version of Kapoor & Sons. The show is fiction but real. It began over 10 years ago, where almost half the characters were prepubescent, delightfully naïve, and immature, but not of the intellectual kind.
Modern Family houses three different families albeit all interrelated — the Dunphy’s, Pritchett’s, and Tucker-Pritchett’s. The Dunphy’s are a married couple (Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell) with three polar children — a child prodigy (Ariel Winter), a fashionista (Sarah Hyland), and a stooging slack (Nolan Gould). The Pritchett’s include the family patriarch (Ed O’Neill), his step-son, infant son, and his second wife (Sofia Vergara) who is as old as his daughter. And the Tucker-Pritchett’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet) have two adopted children — a newborn and an adolescent girl. The show is a cauldron of cultural diversity, rather unobtrusively, where every family is distinct, with an identity of its own. You have straight, gay, and interracial families, all, dealing with the torments of life.
So, naturally, it’s quite a burden for this series to evolve with its cast — a coming-of-age story that can also accommodate mid-life crises, family feuds as well as moments of familial comfort. And owing to its creators Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan, Modern Family did that seamlessly. So did its finale, at times.
You’re forced to overlook the choppy one-hour pace of the end because it is a sincere goodbye. Their optimism is intoxicating, even aspirational.
The show circles back to where it started in these final episodes — the Tucker-Pritchett’s are adopting a newborn and shifting houses, all interrupted as Cameron is offered a new job; the Pritchett’s are philosophically starting anew, where Gloria is more career-driven and Jay more domestic this time; and finally, as the Dunphy’s grow larger in volume due to Haley’s twins, they choose to make household alterations, leaving Claire and Phil lonely but fulfilled. As we see these characters evolve, the show becomes more insightful and familiar — the emotional core of this series is layered with each intersecting character arc, and as the audience, you are willingly entangled in their network of emotions, fraternising with every character.
But these changes in the finale are a tad too abrupt — a jolting, hastened version of what should have come organically over a couple more episodes. The characters lurch from one decision to another and deal with the tumult of change rather quickly, as if they know that they have to wrap up soon. Mitchell’s frustration at Cameron’s new job is left untouched, especially when the penultimate episode overtly alluded to his exasperation at that. And Luke Dunphy’s loosely knit resolution is the weakest of all, where his college admission is used as a mere apparatus for his conclusion. But the familiarity and comforting aura of Modern Family assuage it all. You’re forced to overlook the choppy one-hour pace of the end because it is a sincere goodbye. Their optimism is intoxicating, even aspirational.
The lovability of every character overshadows those narrative missteps. So, as the last few minutes of the finale ticked away, I remained surprisingly uplifted, even amidst their tear-jerking hugs. It maintains its episodic rhythm until the end — where emotions transcend beyond the screen, their communal endearment feels physically present. Ultimately, I found closure as I completed the show, it was a satisfying end that complemented its 11 long seasons and a sizeable 13 characters. It makes you gasp for any extra second, extra minute with those characters, cherishing every final vignette of theirs. And as the characters gradually depart, the show finally holds up a mirror where you can see a fraction of yourself leave with everyone, in eternal reverence of them.
Modern Family is available to stream on Hotstar.