The pieces of the family include a husband, wife, and their three kids. In addition, the show follows the wife's brother and his partner (they are a gay couple), as well as the wife's father and his young wife (who is about 20 years younger than he) who has a boy of her own from a previous marriage. This family tree might be difficult to visualize, but fortunately you can view an image of it here.
Each episode has its own set of problems and comedic outcomes, and you generally don't need to have seen previous episodes in order to follow and understand what is happening in a current episode. During each episode, there are often breaks in the actual storyline where the viewer will see "interviews" of different characters, who are asked random questions. This follows the mockumentary format, one similar to NBC's "The Office."
Here are a couple examples of some of the hilarious story lines present on Modern Family:
- The father (Phil) tries to teach his son (Luke) a lesson by stealing his son's unlocked bike. As it turns out, the bike wasn't his son's, it was another kid's bike!
- The father and mother (Phil & Claire) throw a birthday part for their son (Luke). The episode begins in the emergency room, but the viewer doesn't know who is injured or how he/she got injured. As the episode progresses, the viewer sees all of the crazy and dangerous things that happened throughout the day during the birthday party, leaving the viewer in anticipation of the event that causes a trip to the emergency room.
After its first season, Modern Family was recognized with several award nominations and a handful of award wins (including Directors Guild of America award for outstanding directing in a comedy series). Based on Modern Family's early success, it's clear that this show will find its way onto the list of best sitcoms of all time.