What should I watch? Modern Family

The best comedy ensemble since Dad's army

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In the United States, this is huge. Never mind Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, Modern Family has won the Emmy for outstanding comedy series four years in a row along with crates of other awards and audiences of 15 million.

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On this side of the Atlantic it remains a minor Sky1 cult. More people here — far, far more people — tune in to watch a repeat of Outnumbered.

The curious thing about the show, created by two former Frasier writers in 2009, is it’s so simple. The premise is: a family. That’s it.

To make it interesting, the family is an extended one, split between patriarch Jay’s household (ruled by his curvaceous Colombian second wife), his daughter Claire’s brood and his son Mitchell’s relationship. About the only angle is that Mitchell is gay and soon (in the finale of season 5, in fact) to be married to his partner Cameron.

So, there you have it. On paper, nothing fancy. But not since Dad’s Army has a comic ensemble worked so perfectly, so adorably, together. There are ten main characters and any one, kids included, would have enough comedy juice to power a series of their own.

If it were up to me, any spin-off would revolve around Claire’s husband Phil, the try-hard, doofus dad always wanting to be cool to his kids. He’s trying to be cool because he’s so uncool: a former high-school cheerleader (yes, a male one) and gadgets nerd who now works as an over-eager estate agent and pulls off more pratfalls than a silent movie star.

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But Phil is merely one cog in a precision-tooled comedy machine. There isn’t room to go into the joys of all the other characters: dry, put-upon Jay; absurdly refined kid Manny; clenched mum Claire. Give Modern Family a go and soon enough, you’ll love them all.