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4 Shows like Modern Family: Up Beat TV Comedy Sitcoms

Eileen O'Sullivan itcher‘Modern Family’ is not your average 2.5 kids, cereal packet, nuclear family sitcom. It involves three families in one: multi ethnicity, gay marriage, second marriage, adoption and general affection/confusion all around. TV shows like ‘Modern Family’ include the hilarious ‘Parks and Recreation’, ‘The Office’ and ‘Arrested Development’. ~ Eileen O’Sullivan

Modern TV Family Life Gets Real?

Filmed as a single camera ‘mockumentary’, the show is quirky, funny and relatively complex. There’s a main cast of eleven (if you include the gay couple’s adopted baby, Lilly) so this isn’t the usual TV family fare – i.e. mum, dad and kids all in one house. Throw in social media (they like to communicate via Skype/Facebook et al), generational conflict and confused parenting. Sounds just like home?
Here are more TV series like ‘Modern Family’ – modern life thrown in the media mixer.
‘Parks and Recreation’ (Deedle-Dee Productions, 2009)

Though centred around an Indiana Parks and Recreation department, ‘Parks and Recreation’ is typical ‘work-mates/friends as family’ TV fare. The edgy humour relies on a mish mash of interrelated characters. The concept is odd ball and ‘modern’, poking fun at individuals as they battle the system (and each other) to improve their lives.

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Parks and Recreation’ may seem an odd choice for series like ‘Modern Family’ – where’s the family? Well they’re both shot as ‘mockumentaries’ and chronicle the lives of many interrelated, quirky characters.

‘The Office’ (Capital United Nations, 2001)

Arguably the original TV ‘mockumentary’ (a show that parodies documentaries), ‘The Office’ sparked off an international franchise, including an American version.  It made comedian Ricky Gervais globally famous and put UK town Slough on the world map. It was cringingly funny and yet was an affectionate portrayal of frustrated, small town ‘nobodies’ longing for love (and fame). Phil the dad in ‘Modern Family’ is cringingly adorable, like ‘The Office’s David Brent. They’re both desperate to be cool.

Similarity Match: 80%
Both ‘Modern Family’ and ‘The Office’ are mockumentaries, poking fun at absurd behaviour. ‘The Office’ is more cynical, more ‘British’ in its humour and features work colleagues, not family members.

‘Malcolm in the Middle’ (Satin City Productions, 2000)

We’re back to family life, and ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ is a great family sitcom. Malcolm is the middle kid in an ‘ordinary’ American family, and his view on his siblings/parents and the world in general is very insightful. The show is clever, funny and they’re all just adorable. For Phil in ‘Modern Life’, think Hal in MITM.

Similarity Match: 75%
‘Malcolm in the Middle’ gives a comedic and modern TV twist to family life. It’s also much more ‘real’ in its approach/filming technique than ‘Modern Family’. If MF is a mockumentary, MITM is more like a drama documentary.

‘Arrested Development’ (Imagine Entertainment, 2003)

When his dad is thrown in prison, Michael Bluth becomes head of the dysfunctional Bluth clan. The Bluth Company business has just gone bust – and they all move into a penthouse, once part of their California real estate empire. Spoilt socialites, magicians, jailbirds, psychiatrists – this family show is pretty nutty.

Similarity Match: 75%
‘Arrested Development’ is a about a dysfunctional modern family, filmed with a single camera, so yes, it’s like ‘Modern Family’. The Bluth family are a materialistic, self-centred bunch so appeal to a less mainstream audience.


A Modern, Funky Approach to Sitcom Humour

Shows similar to ‘Modern Family’ are all pretty cool. They depend on a certain kind of quirky humour that takes ‘ordinary life’ and turns it all a bit bonkers, yet keeps it ‘real’ enough to keep us all watching.
So come on – which shows like ‘Modern Family’ would you have chosen?
Let us know!
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