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'Modern Family' and the comedy comeback

October 31, 2011 |  2:21 pm

Modern Family
Ed O'Neill's backstage trailer on the set of "Modern Family" is bare, with only his brown leather shoes near the door showing any signs of living.

"I don't like to decorate because I never know if a show will last," O'Neill, who plays patriarch Jay in  the series, said during a recent day of filming.

Note to Ed: It's pretty safe to say the ABC comedy will be around for a while.

The series is even being heralded as the vanguard of a sitcom revival. When Fox's "The X Factor" was put up against "Modern Family," few thought the comedy, even with its multiple Emmys, would come out on top in the ratings. But it's done just that every week of the new season. Meanwhile, the first show this fall to be picked up the for the full season was a comedy — "New Girl," starring Zooey Deschanel. Overall, half-hour comedy series — including "2 Broke Girls" — had a big showing during fall premiere week among adults ages 18 to 49.

"If comedies are back, good for TV," said Eric Stonestreet, who plays flamboyant Cam on the series. "I think the sooner we can get back to valuing scripted comedies and scripted dramas, the better. If we have anything to do with even one ounce of that, that's amazing. The goal everyday is to just do the best show we can. We’re in a very serious business of comedy here."

For cast mate Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Stonestreet's onscreen beau, Mitchell, it's the show's potential legacy that is mind-boggling.

"People have been comparing 'Modern Family' to 'Seinfeld' and 'Friends' and 'The Cosby Show,' " said Ferguson. "I know it seems strange to still find it surprising, but even being in it now and seeing how incredibly successful it is — the ratings are so good — I still can't separate myself from it."

He added: "I hear people saying, 'You guys are going to be on the air for 10 years, 15 years.' I can't even fathom approaching 50 and still playing Mitchell. I guess it could happen. I could be, like, the Erica Kane of evening television."

Read more about the role of "Modern Family" in the revival of the sitcom here.

— Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: The cast of "Modern Family," winner of the Emmy for outstanding comedy, at the 63rd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times