The Good: Good acting, Good character work, Decent plot progression
The Bad: Surprisingly little that is universal
The Basics: In its fifth season, Modern Family does not disappoint; it is consistently funny and is building well toward its promised purpose!
Not long ago, I finally caught up on The Big Bang Theory and I found myself tremendously disappointed with its seventh season (reviewed here!), so I was a bit worried going into Modern Family Season Five. My experience has been that when shows go bad, they tend to go bad in batches, like all of the writers get bored at the same time. Fortunately, that is not the case right now in television! Modern Family Season Five is one of the best seasons of the show yet.
The premise of the fifth season of has the show taking on a bit more of a serialized flavor than in some of the prior seasons. As a result, the season is building to something from its first episode on and fortunately, Modern Family does not jerk the audience around with the “will they or won’t they” plot conceits. The season continues to follow the Pritchett/Dunphy family and while there are numerous opportunities to go troublingly negative – most notably in the backstory of Phil Dunphy – the show does not get as dark as the season of The Big Bang Theory that aired during the same season. While there might be some bias in favor Mitch, Cam and Phil, the episodes all try to include most of the Modern Family cast, though the Dunphy girls seem to have less screentime than in prior seasons and Claire works best when she is setting up jokes for Phil.
With gay marriage legalized, Mitchell and Cameron conspire to propose to one another. Despite the guys both trying to make a grand romantic gesture, their plan goes awry, though they end up proposing to one another. They begin planning their wedding, the various Dunphys and Pritchetts go on with their lives. In this season, Mitch lets Cameron try his hand at planning the wedding and Cam becomes the new football coach at Manny and Luke’s school. Phil accidentally leads on a number of divorcees looking for houses, with hilarious consequences.
Claire goes to work for Jay and tries to distance herself from being the boss’s daughter. In the process, she learns that Jay actually tried to get Phil out of the picture, back in the day, and Phil learns that Claire might well have only been with her because he got her pregnant. Alex gets a psychiatrist for her overachieving and managing her stress, while Haley begins to show a real aptitude for photography and business. Gloria, Luke, and Manny show up and act as supporting characters without any big arcs of their own.
In the fifth season of Modern Family, the acting is virtually flawless. The main cast – led by Ed O’Neill, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson – know their parts perfectly and this is not a big season for transformations. While Haley might have the biggest character evolution in the season, actress Sarah Hyland does not have much to do to change the way the character is played. In other words, there are no great performance changes that allow her to expand her range on the show.
The fifth season of Modern Family does what a sitcom ought to do very well; it makes us laugh and the characters are interesting. This is very much an archetypal sitcom in its fifth season as it is plot-heavy and involved in the characters without making broader statements on humanity. It is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, especially from Ty Burrell’s Phil. But, it’s also a season that leaves little needing analysis; this is a funny season of television that continues the story of the Dunphy’s and Pritchett’s by having most of the family preparing for the imminent wedding of Cam and Mitch.
For other shows from the 2013 – 2014 television season, be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Big Bang Theory - Season 7
Game Of Thrones - Season 4
New Girl - Season 3
The Walking Dead - Season 4
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 1
The Newsroom - Season 2
Breaking Bad - Season 5
The Clone Wars - Season 6
Orange Is The New Black - Season 2
Parenthood - Season 5
For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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