If the picture-perfect Bollywood family is all too gulab jamun for your taste, as hot of the crisp, savoury and sharp Modern Family is just what the doctor would have ordered.
A huge success on American television since it premiered in 2009, the mockumentary is in its seventh season this year, and was introduced to Indian audiences in 2010. Modern Family features a fascinating and unusual set of characters: a patriarch with an attractive young wife who is a Latin American immigrant trying to fit in (Jay and Gloria), a gay couple (Mitchell and Cameron) and their adopted Asian daughter, the earnest, desperate-to-be-cool Phil Dunphy, his animated wife and their three kids who are a foil to and occasional catalysts for the adult misadventures. The show is about just the kind of box of assorted chocolates that everyone finds themselves with at some point in their lives.
The breezy writing is complemented by the excellent chemistry between the actors. The relationship between Jay and Gloria is affectionate, warm and entirely believable despite the frequent dissonant notes they strike and the differences in age, IQ levels and wisdom. The show’s top draw is Sophia Vergara – you can never tire of the accent or the attitude. She presents a caricature of the Latina woman that does not offend.
Full marks to the show’s writers (who apparently didn’t get a single day off during the first few seasons) for treating the gay couple’s track with sensitivity. The actors have also acknowledged in interviews that it was important for the couple to be placed in situations that would apply to any heterosexual couple and be treated with the same kind of respect. It shows. Especially when their adopted daughter, Lily, takes them through the same parenting pangs that any conventional couple would experience.It is not unnatural. It is not exceptional. But utterly endearing. And relatable.
The situations explored by various episodes– hormonally charged teens, odd couples in not-so-odd situations, parents tying to balance parenting and their sex lives, motherhood, child rearing – make absolute sense even to non-Americans. You can take the pretty Los Angeles neighborhood setting and replace it with row houses in Gurgaon. One of the most watched episodes, in which little Lily used cuss words, created outrage in the United States, but the furor died down as quickly as it had been generated. As one of the cast members observed, “Every one realised there is not a single family in the world where that has not happened.”