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Zara Kessler

A 'Modern Family' Gimmick

It’s precisely the combination of gimmicky heavy-handedness and rehashed creativity that stands to make next week's episode potentially powerful.


Source: ABC Television Network

The Dunphys (et al.) have gone digital. In the Feb. 25 episode of the ABC comedy “Modern Family,” Claire Dunphy will try to track down her daughter Haley in the wake of an argument. Sounds like a standard plot, but here’s the catch: The episode will take place on Claire’s laptop screen. “Claire, about to board a flight, must rely on her laptop to get in touch with her immediate and extended family -- who pop up via their own computers or smartphones -- for help in finding Haley,” explains the Associated Press. What’s more: The episode was primarily shot on the iPhone 6 or new iPads, according to “Modern Family” executive producer and co-creator Steve Levitan.

Is this a gimmick? Of course. It’s a contrivance on par with a popular show doing a live episode (“ER,” “The West Wing,”“30 Rock”) or turning to song (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Scrubs,” “Grey’s Anatomy”). “Modern Family” is midway through its sixth season. After five consecutive years of nominations for the best comedy series Golden Globe (including a win in 2012), the show was snubbed in the most recent Globes cycle. Next week’s ode to Apple seems to be a way to breathe new life (and new publicity?) into the aging series.