Who's the funniest 'Modern Family' member?


This week, I think it was Ed O’Neill. Hey, next week, it could be Julie Bowen. Or Jesse Tyler Ferguson. That’s how good Modern Family is proving to be.

But this week, I have to hand it to Ed O’Neill. He’s been terrific as middle-aged grump Jay, married to the younger Gloria (and how quick and clever was Sofia Vergara last night as well?). O’Neill, who spent years doing drama to put some distance from his career-making role in Married… With Children, is working at a whole new level now. His Jay isn’t a heftier version of Al Bundy — Jay is a completely different comic creation. O’Neill isn’t playing Jay as your average sitcom guy having a mid-life crisis with a hotsy second wife. Instead, he’s made Jay a quietly happy but complicated and confused man. Sure, he’s pleased he was able to attract someone like Gloria, but he’s a man who sees how complicated life is. He knows he’s got his work cut out for him, being a stepfather to the clever but troubled Manny and re-wiring his old-straight-guy preconceptions about gay men in getting closer to his son, Mitchell, and Mitchell’s boyfriend, Cameron.

O’Neill anchored this week’s episode, about a family gathering at Jay’s house to watch a football game. Whether complaining about the amount of coffee Manny drank in the morning or advising everyone to avoid talking about their feelings (“That’s the worst thing you could do… Just sweep it under the rug”), Jay is a 20th-century guy coping with 21st-century social culture. It leads him into situations he could never have forseen, such as the scene in which he asked Mitchell and Cameron whether they found him attractive. When he said gruffly, “I know I’m not Erik Estrada or anything, but… ” I both laughed and felt a little ache for Jay’s sweet insecurity.

Jay is still the kind of man who thinks you settle a squabble between two boys by cuffing the ears of both of them and sending them on their way. (Manny and Luke deserved it.)

The terrific thing about Modern Family is that everyone has his or her reasons for doing the things they do. And Ed O’Neill knows what makes his character tick as well as any actor on TV.

Did you watch Modern Family this week? What did you think?

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • WTF

    One word: Hilarious!!!!
    The whole cast is terrific…. Their timing is perfect… I’m so happy this show is here to stay….:)

    • tamnk

      Second that. A great great show!

  • kat

    I love this show!

  • tdunf

    i watched this for the first time last night…..i haven’t laughed as hard since arrested development!!! very witty, very sharp and an interesting concept. i’ll definitely be watching this one every week.

  • sydneyb

    ok so the best line came from Ty Burell’s Phill: “Claire says that you can be part of the problem or part of the soultion. I like to be part of both”

    I was pretty much dying over that line and this episode in general. Also, Haley had some money reactions this episode. I particularly love a) her reaction on to her friend on the phone when her little brother spilled the beans about Claire calling Gloria a “coal digger”. and b) the fact that she looked at her whole family as nuts when they all went jumping into the pool. Classic.

    I also adore, adore, ADORE julie bowen. to me, she just makes everyone better. especially mitchell and phill.

    okay, my last point before i stop babbling–how great was cameron when he revealed his football past and the whole double question scene with mitchell? Sooo funny!

    • sydneyb

      okay one more line: “what’s weird is that her kid wears aftershave and dresses like a count”

      can we start a modern family weekly quote list?

      • Jackie

        THAT was the funniest line! I absolutely adore this show :)

  • nancy jo

    CANNONBALL!!!!!!! : )

    • Tim (@rural_juror)

      I thought I heard him say “CAM-BALL!”


  • Rich

    Ken, you got it exactly right when you used the word “anchored.” The great sitcoms have always had a solid core around which the madness can swirl. The core can be funny – Judd Hirsch in Taxi, Ted Danson in Cheers, Jason Bateman in AD, Jerry Seinfeld – but he has to be a little less crazy than everyone around him. Ed O’Neill is absolutely perfect in this role. Go ahead and give him the Emmy now.

    • Damon

      If this show doesn’t get any recognition, I will be very upset! Is it possible for everyone to be nominated! LMAO!

      • Jackie

        For a SAG Award it is. Best ensemble.

    • stelvis

      haley rockas my world!….her eyes rolls..and confident teen persona are so on target! more of her please..

  • Damon

    This show just keeps getting better!!! Phil stole the show for me last night..

    “I hate it when my two girls fight”..LMAO!! Or when he didn’t say anything when Gloria said she would get rid of her dress..or when he reached for Gloria’s pie instead of his wifes!

    But his oldest daughter who lives on the phone had a me laughing when she says her mom looks bad wet! LMAO! The show is funny and the facial expressions are even funnier..

  • sydneyb

    oh and also awesome: “some people are book smart, some people are people smart. and then there is Luke”

    snicker–is it bad of me to love the scene where the parents make fun of their child?

  • wendy

    I watch for all of them but Cam and Mitchell are my mvps’ They crack me up.

  • wendy

    We were Picklers!

  • Michael

    There is no justice if Ed O’Neill doesn’t get an Emmy for this role. In fact, I will be disappointed if Modern Family (or Glee) doesn’t win Best Comedy Series this year.

    • Tim (@rural_juror)

      Yea, 30 Rock has some stiff competition this year with Modern Family & Glee. I’d argue for Community as well.

  • ruth

    This show makes me so happy. Funniest show on network television right now. Cameron for MVP – but I love the whole cast, including the kids who hold their own with a stellar group of actors.

    • stelvis

      be cool if one of the “Fockers” stopped by…relative..neighbor..

  • Kg

    This show makes me realize what a good actor Ed O’Neill is–this character is so great with no trace of Al Bundy. Each person on the show seems perfectly cast. It has become the highlight of my t.v. week!

  • Kat

    LOVE, LOVE this show! Dare I say it, but it has surpassed “Glee” as my favorite new show. Perfectly cast and acted and how adorable is baby Lily?

    • Jackie

      Dressed as an umpire!

      • stelvis


  • LT

    Cameron, Phil and Manny are my MVP’s, but the whole cast is so great and Ed O’Neill really IS the anchor. Loved when Cameron held the baby out of the doorway in the double question scene.

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