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'MODERN FAMILY' - HOW A SITCOM MANAGES TO SPAN OUR PARTISAN DIVIDE

American Studies professor Sheri Parks on "Modern Family."

By David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun

 

At first glance, it might not seem like much, two men calling ABC’s “Modern Family” one of their favorite TV shows.

But when one is the Democratic president of the United States and the other his Republican challenger, you have to wonder if there isn’t something special about the show that recently finished its third season as the most popular in prime time among young adult viewers.

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Some analysts say the show “sidesteps” politics rather than transcending them, and that there is nothing groundbreaking about that in prime-time network television. But there’s another point of view that sees “Modern Family” as a savvy combination of cutting-edge attitudes and old-fashioned TV values — a series that challenges viewers to think about family in new ways but always “gives you the big family hug at the end of each episode,” in the words of Winer.

“You have to start with the fact that it’s a large ensemble cast, but not in the sense of a big urban tribe like many other ensemble television shows,” says Sheri Parks, a University of Maryland, College Park American studies professor. “Here the characters are members of three interrelated families, and those families are different enough so that you can come from almost any political position and engage with one of them.”

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Date of Publication: 
6/8/12