As writers, we all know what it’s like to have writing fatigue from time to time. Writing for television is even more exhausting, despite networks having shorter seasons now to pack in more in less time.
When you’re attempting to find new stories for a show like Modern Family, it’s no doubt far too tempting to tap into the well of prior plot ideas.
It appears that’s exactly what the writing team at Modern Family has done recently, making fans of the show wonder what’s going on right before the show wraps its final season.
Just how noticeable are the plot repeats this year? Some critics see many obvious tropes the show keeps repeating year in and out. Not that there isn’t a prior record of TV shows doing plot rehashes.
Have the characters really grown on ‘Modern Family’ since it began?
A critic on AV Club recently tore into Modern Family for giving all the characters the same old situations we’ve seen them deal with over the last 11 seasons. As innovative and diverse as the cast was when it first went on the air in 2009, it’s a bit surreal to realize many of them still deal with the same issues today without really expanding to new horizons.
Despite all of the characters having new kids arriving in the family and having different challenges, none of them seem to have progressed beyond how we’ve seen them all along.
Maybe that feels comfortable for those who liked the formula and didn’t want to see too many changes. For television, it’s a complacent move since most viewers want to see character growth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
Considering Modern Family basically upended the family dramedy as we knew it a decade ago, it’s strange to write now and realize it seems hackneyed at the end of the decade.
Is there a specific reason for this, or are the writers just worn out? There is an argument to be made the show should have ended maybe last year rather than go an extra season.
The show has sometimes been criticized for its caricatures of women
One thing the above AV Club reviewer points out is that many of the women characters simply haven’t grown. The writers keep placing them in the same situations and sometimes use tired tropes on who these women are.
Other criticisms have popped up over the years about the writers sometimes making the women relent in favor of their husbands. In one past episode involving a chess match, Gloria steps aside to let her husband win the game.
Many found this (and similar plots later) sexist, which shocked those who’ve made Modern Family a continual viewing habit.
This is one arguable reason the show should have ended last year, until continued good ratings made ABC renew it for a final 11th.
For the writing team, they may subtly want to move on after apparently being trapped in a box in expanding the characters any further.
With rehashed plots continuing this season, we see something other shows have done in the past with just enough variations to get away with it.
Shows from the past that dipped into a pool of used plots
Many classic shows from yesteryear did the same thing and started repeating plots with slight variations so audiences wouldn’t readily notice. Maybe they didn’t notice then, but it’s fairly obvious today when seeing the reruns.
Old sitcoms like Bewitched did this all the time in the 1960s, though so did more recent shows like The X-Files. It’s a practice far too common in the TV industry, mostly because writers prefer to save their very best ideas for another high-paying gig.
Whether this explains Modern Family‘s plot recycling problem is unknown. What the popular writing team has in mind next could have been employed into MF’s final season, unless they’re saving a major left-field surprise in the last episode.