ModernFamily6coverGrade: A
Entire family: Yes
2014-15, 556 min. (24 episodes), Color
20th Century Fox
Not Rated (would be PG for some adult situations)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Bonus features: B
Amazon link

The streak is over. After winning Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series its first five seasons, which tied Frasier for top honors in that category, Modern Family: Season 6 fell short. But it had nothing to do with the quality of episodes. This series remains one of the funniest sitcoms on television, and Season 6 has no shortage of laugh-out-loud moments. It’s every bit as strong as the other seasons.

The success formula for Modern Family is pretty simple: Clever writing, rapid-fire jokes, likable characters, a talented ensemble cast, reality-show cutaway remarks, and comedy that’s truly situation-based, rooted in emotions and scenarios that audiences can often identify with.

What makes this family “modern” is that it includes non-traditional models that are common today. The gruff businessman patriarch of the Pritchett clan (Ed O’Neill) has remarried a Colombian “hottie” (Sofía Vergara) 20 years his junior who has a son named Manny (Rico Rodriguez), whom Jay tries to toughen up. Jay’s two children are Claire, an OCD who married a doofus (Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy, the self-proclaimed “fun dad”) that Jay couldn’t stand, and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), his gay son now married to the flamboyant Cam (Eric Stonestreet). Mitchell and Cam have adopted a Vietnamese orphan named Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), while Claire and Phil have three biological children: the flirtatious and carefree Haley (Sarah Hyland), the studious Alex (Ariel Winter), and not-too-bright Luke (Nolan Gould).

That core group collectively has 27 Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress nominations and six Primetime Emmy wins. There isn’t a weak link among them. In all cases, the actors and writers manage to create characters that are totally believable, both individually and in relation to the others. You accept them as couples, in-laws, steps, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters. There are also degrees of exaggeration that help to create the comedy, but without ever edging too close to the kind of over-the-top humor that too many sitcoms depend upon. And there’s no annoying laugh track to prod viewers.

This season new neighbors feud with Claire and Phil, Cam and Mitchell think about adding another child to their family, and Jay seems to be growing more sensitive about his age. He’s also worried his young son Joe is playing with too many “girlie” ModernFamily6screenthings, and it doesn’t exactly help his psyche to pretend to be gay in order to fill in for one of the bowlers on Cam’s team. Haley tries to get Alex to loosen up a bit this season, and the writers attempt a clever (some might say “gimmicky”) episode that’s told entirely from Claire’s laptop as she’s stranded at the airport. Despite the non-standard narrative format, they still manage laughs, and that’s saying something. Apart from an episode in which little Joe might be allergic to Jay’s beloved dog (shades of a Brady Bunch episode), what elevates this show is the originality of the plots from week to week . . . and the way those plots still incorporate ways to connect with viewers. In one Season 6 episode Jay takes a pottery class in order to make a clay bunny for his “Bunny” for their anniversary, but Gloria treats it like a piñata, wondering what he put inside. Anyone who’s ever made or received a personally crafted gift can identify with Jay, and common elements pop up in just about every episode.

Like most good sitcoms, Modern Family is addictive. Buy this season and you’ll probably feel the impulse to pick up the earlier ones. It’s that funny. Twenty-four episodes are included on three single-sided discs and housed in a standard-size keep case, with plastic “pages” to keep the discs from getting scratched.

Language: None, really
Sex: Same here—just some innuendo
Violence: Again, nothing here
Adult situations: A gay man tries to flirt with Jay, and that’s pretty much typical of how tame the adult situations are in this series. It’s all about comedy of character, and viewers are focused so much on the characters that everything else seems secondary.
Takeaway: A well-written sitcom is a thing of beauty.