Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the simple pleasures in our lives that we’ve begun to take for granted: a home cooked meal, a clean house, smelling the crisp fall air or enjoying the changing of the seasons. If you’re anything like us, it’s also the time of year when, after hours spent with family (usually after the main course, but just before the dessert), you come to a startling observation: My family is unlike any family I’ve ever seen.
And so, in celebration of crazy modern families worldwide, we send out this salute to our favourite small screen families, long may they reign.
Rachel on The Simpsons
My real-life family may not seem to have much in common with the Simpson clan; my Dad doesn’t wear blue pants, my mom’s hair is hardly in a beehive, and as an only child, I don’t have pesky siblings playing loud saxophones or skateboarding through my bedroom. They may seem like the neighbours from Hell, and Bart can be a parent’s worst nightmare, but under the surface The Simpsons are a family that sticks together through thick and thin, supports one another, and shares countless laughs together. Sure, like most families, they don’t always get along or see eye-to-eye (especially when it comes to jazz music or pork chops) but after 22 years on the air—and being the only show I have consistently enjoyed since the age of 8—I’ve learned more about family dynamics from The Simpsons than from anywhere else.
The Simpsons is a show that I watched for years with my parents, then with my extended family of roommates while away at university, and now the hodge-podge of coworkers, friends, and in-laws that I now include as part of my family. It is not unheard of to hear a schoolmate or coworker quoting from The Simpsons (I think I have heard “d’oh!” uttered more than once today) or to hear people reminiscing about their favourite episode, like the classic Thanksgiving episode in which Bart runs away, only to be reunited and welcomed home with open arms at the end of the episode. And that’s what family is all about.
Dan on Modern Family
When the TV series Arrested Development was cancelled, I felt a void. I felt like I would probably never find another TV series that so captured the fun-loving-dysfunctional spirit of my own family. That is, until I channel surfed my way to a new series called Modern Family. Now I should clarify; my family doesn’t even compare to the dysfunction of The Bluths from Arrested Development. Nor are we as pulled together as The Dunphys from Modern Family. At a glance, we really wouldn’t seem to relate at all, besides maybe a little tendency towards – you know, the dramatic (Casablanca!). In my family we like to refer to this as having character. And if there's one thing the clan from Modern Family has excess of—it’s characters.
Let's start with Modern Family Dad, Phil Dunphy. Here’s a guy who goes to considerable lengths to connect with his children at their level. Does your Dad know all the words (not to mention the choreography) from High School Musical? Phil Dunphy does. While my Dad still thinks the internet is a fad, my Mom (like Phil) has recently learned how to send text messages. So now, like the three Dunphy children I am continually blessed with hours of enjoyment, reading thread upon thread of misinterpreted texting acronyms.
My favourite Phil Dunphyism: “I'm a cool dad. That's my thang. I surf the web, I text: LOL – Laugh Out Loud; OMG – Oh My God; WTF – Why The Face?”
Modern Family is essentially about the comprimises and sacrifices we make for our family in the name of love. Whether you're a mom, a dad, a sibling or an uncle, living up to and meeting the expectations of your family can be incredibly challenging sometimes. That's why we can all learn a thing or two from Modern Family Mom, Claire Dunphy. In her own words: “If Haley never wakes up on a beach in Florida half-naked, then I’ve done my job as a mom.”
Add in Claire’s gay brother Mitchell, his husband Cameron, their adopted daughter Lily, Grandfather Jay, his much younger Latino wife Gloria, and her smoking jacket-wearing son Manny and you’ve got a recipe for disaster—but also, one sharp family comedy. A comedy that makes my family—dysfunctional as we may be—just a little bit easier to love.
Watch a preview of Modern family below: