After breaking the six-year streak of winning every Emmy in its’ path, “Modern Family” returns to Wednesday nights with business as usual.
Season 7 covers a pivotal year for the clan. With Haley a full adult, Alex off to college, Luke and Manny now both juniors in high school, Lily in second grade and Joe starting pre-school, the dimensions of the family have to drastically change.
Alex will potentially have a smaller role in the series now that she has to spend her freshman year at Cal-Tech living on campus (though I’m sure Pasadena isn’t far from the Dunphy house). Perhaps this is what the character needs. Throughout the series, Alex hasn’t experienced any major character development. A prediction I had for last season would be that Alex wouldn’t get accepted into any colleges but I only turned out to be semi-right. She didn’t get into Harvard, so she’s going to Cal-Tech. That situation sounds more like a win than a defeat.
The past three seasons, I’ve enjoyed seeing Haley maturing at a realistic pace. Though the will-they-won’t-they between her and Andy is starting to get dull. The reason is because it happened too late into the series. Usually these kids of relationships are a hit; Jim & Pam in The Office, Kevin & Winnie in The Wonder Years. But the Haley/Andy dynamic is too similar to Claire and Phil for it to really have any major effect on the content of the show.
Another troubling observation of Modern Family is how the writers have no idea what to do with Luke. The years between 14 and 17 should be gold, but most of the growing up happens off screen. I really wanted to know what Luke’s thinking, now that reality is rearing its ugly head. Junior year is the most stressful and although the season just started, I would like to see that stress in both Luke and Manny.
Meanwhile at the Tucker/Pritchett household, the tables have turned with Mitchell being the stay-at-home parent. Sure this plotline will be resolved in two episodes, but his entire out-of-work persona is a treat. His painting that he gave Phil and Claire of what is supposed to be field workers has created this entire off screen drama that is funny on its own (By the way, the title of his painting is “The Rape of the Immigrant”).
At this point in the series, Modern Family has chosen a direction that leaves little room for growth and freshness. Perhaps this is a good thing. Showrunners Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd know that changing horses midstream will most certainly lead to disaster. It’s best to keep a good thing going until the end.