ABC’s Modern Family has become one of the most successful comedies on TV since its 2009 debut. Over its seven-plus-season run, the show has garnered critical acclaim and countless accolades and also inspired a slew of other diverse family comedies on the small screen. But with recent seasons seeing declining ratings and the cast facing contract renegotiations after Season 8, could the long-running comedy now be nearing its end?
According to Deadline, the entire Modern Family cast is gearing up for contract renewals later this year. The favorite ABC series is currently green-lit for one more season (its eighth), and all of the actors are set to return. But the status of the series is up in the air after that, with the whole ensemble set to negotiate new deals for any subsequent seasons for the first time since 2012.
As fans may remember, the cast’s last contract renewals occurred ahead of Season 4 and resulted in some of the most contentious negotiations in TV history. After the adult stars teamed to ask for hefty raises, the deal-making process dragged on for months and escalated into a heated standoff that included a boycotted table read and a legal suit against producer 20th Century Fox Television. Eventually, the cast was able to close new deals, dropping the lawsuit and receiving significant raises in exchange for an extended contract applicable through Season 8.
With those deals expiring after the upcoming season, the cast is expected to once again ask for some major pay bumps. Per Deadline, talks between ABC and 20th TV will likely begin in a few months. As has been protocol in past years, Ed O’Neill, the most senior and highest-paid Modern Family cast member, is expected to go first, followed by the rest of the adult cast, including Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, and Sofia Vergara. The younger cast will then follow.
As the actors negotiate what is sure to be another big raise, it’s the network that will likely pick up the tab on all of the new deals. But with Modern Family seemingly past its prime days, it begs the question: Is the show still worth it?
There are plenty of reasons for the network to keep the show around, despite the cost. Other than CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family is the only broadcast comedy currently on TV to have landed best series Emmy nominations. In fact, it’s won the top comedy award a whopping five times. But recent seasons have garnered increasingly mixed reviews and neither the series nor its cast has taken home an Emmy since 2014.
Aside from its prestigious award season history, the show also remains ABC’s highest-rated comedy. That being said, it’s not the ratings juggernaut it used to be. In its seventh and most recent season, Modern Family was rated No. 36 overall in total viewership (9.8 million) and No. 10 in the key 18-49 demo (with a 3.4 score).
While that’s certainly strong, ABC’s other family comedies aren’t too far behind. As Deadline reports, The Goldbergs is actually less than a rating point behind Modern Family, and the network has also found success with Black-ish and Fresh off The Boat. With ABC steadily adding to its comedy block, Modern Family isn’t necessarily as crucial to the network as it once was.
Still, fans shouldn’t lose all hope just yet. While Deadline reports there has been “some posturing by ABC, with the network sending signals that a renewal of Modern Family is not a given,” it’s widely expected that the comedy will get a ninth season and could ultimately run for a total of 10 seasons. Whether talks will prove as complex as last time remains to be seen, but if they do drag on, negotiations could end up coming down to the wire next spring.
Modern Family airs on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern time.