Tag Archives: Modern Family

‘Modern Family’ Shows How to Do Product Integration Right

modern family atlantic

Sometimes my Quartz stories migrate over its sister site, The Atlantic. That happened again today with yesterday’s Quartz piece about Modern Family’s brilliant Apple product integration, which was picked up today by The Atlantic.

The story got an excellent response yesterday (and this morning) from Quartz readers, so I’m thrilled that it will get new life today. And if you haven’t be sure to watch the “Connection Lost” episode if you haven’t already!

Modern Family Shows How to Do Product Integration Right

‘Modern Family’s’ Apple-Centric Episode is Product Integration at its Best — and Great TV


Product integration has become unavoidable in TV and film as advertisers desperately try to reach those viewers who routinely skip past commercials. And while viewers endure most of it as a necessary evil, every once in a great while, there’s a truly brilliant combination of product and program. And that what’s happened in tonight’s Modern Family, which features possibly the best product integration of all time: the entire episode is told through Claire Dunphy’s MacBook Pro, and the apps she uses to communicate with her family. As I wrote at Quartz,

In the context of the plot, Apple’s apps, and their familiar sound effects, are as much a part of the action as Claire and the rest of her boisterous family are. FaceTime, Messaging, Safari, iTunes, Reminders, iPhoto and even the iCloud all make appearances at one time or another, but non-Apple apps like Facebook, Instagram and Google also get some screen time. The result is an episode that’s incredibly effective and very funny, without ever actually seeming like an ad. In part, that’s because—surprise!—Apple didn’t pay a cent to be involved. Instead, the idea came from Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan, who co-wrote and directed the episode. Levitan was inspired in part by a FaceTime chat with one of his college-age daughters. “This came from life and it made sense,” Levitan told the Associated Press.

Best of all, because there’s no quid pro quo, the episode is devoid of the usual nonsense that accompanies almost all product placement. You can read much more about the episode, and how it validates a vow that Levitan made to me last summer, here.

‘Modern Family’s’ Apple-centric episode is product placement at its best — and great TV

‘Melissa Harris-Perry’: Shonda Rhimes, gay characters and hair

I was very excited to return to MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry today to talk about all things Shonda Rhimes. First we discussed the racy same-sex love scenes in How to Get Away with Murder (which as I point out, is a big improvement over Modern Family’s Mitch and Cam, who barely show any affection onscreen).

We then talked about that sensational scene where Viola Davis removed her makeup and wig — one of this fall’s most memorable images.

Also on the panel: Aisha Moodie-Mills, Danielle Moodie-Mills and my former People colleague Janet Mock.

How Shonda Rhimes is opening doors for gay characters on TV

Shonda Rhimes rewriting rules for black women

TV’s 10 Worst Time Slots: Can Any Show Survive?


I’m very excited to begin contributing to Adweek, as they look to expand their TV coverage online. My first story for them is something that I’ve wanted to write for more than a year: a look at the worst TV time slots on television, the ones that have been radioactive for years on end, and manage to bring about the end of almost every show that is aired there.

I looked back at several years of TV schedule grids, and pulled together this collection of TV’s equivalent of death row.

Abandon hope, all ye who are scheduled here:

TV’s 10 Worst Time Slots: Can Any Show Survive?

Stop Hating on ‘Modern Family’ (But Also Stop Giving It Emmys)

modern family s6

Few people were more upset than I over Modern Family’s return to Emmy dominance back in August, when it once again won best comedy, beating Louie (!), Veep (!!) and Orange is the New Black (!!!). But at the same time, I felt like the backlash against the show — some people seemed to want it taken off the air immediately — seemed overblown. As someone who had watched all five seasons worth of episodes, I knew that Modern Family still had its moments. This fall seemed like a good time to revisit the show, so I did that today for The Daily Beast:

So, following Jay’s advice and putting all the hoopla aside, it’s time to examine how good—or bad—Modern Family really is at this point in its run. After watching Season 6’s first three solid episodes, it’s clear that Modern Family is much better than many of its haters remember. It’s still reliably and solidly funny, capable of several genuine laughs each week, which is more than most network comedies can say. But equally evident is the fact that the show, while still entertaining, stopped being groundbreaking long ago, and serves largely at this point as comedy comfort food.

This story also gave me an opportunity to talk about the most bitter, loveless couples on television: Mitch and Cam, who should really go their separate ways. But I still love Audrey Anderson-Emmons, who plays their daughter, Lily, my favorite character on the show. And I admire the show’s restraint in turning Modern Family into The Lily Show.

In its sixth season, Modern Family is still worthy of adoration from audiences — just not Emmy voters.

Stop Hating on ‘Modern Family’ (But Also Stop Giving It Emmys)

Emmy Voters Just Did Something the Networks Couldn’t—Stop Netflix

Emmy voters just did something

Last night, the networks found an unexpected savior in their efforts to keep Netflix at bay: Emmy voters. Despite entering this year’s race with an impressive 31 nominations, the network came up empty during the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. As I wrote at Quartz,

Netflix seemed primed for a big night, after last week’s Creative Arts wins seemed to indicate that Orange is the New Black would be lauded. Host Seth Meyers acknowledged Netflix’s expected big night in his opening monologue when he joked, “Not very nice when someone younger comes along, is it, cable?” And Netflix was at the center of one of the evening’s early highlights: a hilarious commercial that ran during the telecast in which Gervais crossed paths with characters from House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. It was supposed to be the first of many memorable Netflix moments on Emmy night. But it turned out to be the only one.

I also touch upon a little-known fact about Emmy voters: sometimes as few as 50 of them make the decisions for each category.

Emmy voters just did something the networks couldn’t—stop Netflix 

Why So Many TV Shows Peak in Season 3

tv shows peak season 3 atlantic

I had a feeling this story would have legs: The Atlantic has picked up my Quartz story on why so many TV shows peak by their third season. I really loved writing this piece and am so thrilled that it’s getting such a big response.

Why So Many TV Shows Peak in Season 3

Why Most TV Shows Peak by Their Third Season

why most tv shows peak

You just never know where I great story idea is going to come from. While doing a Brooklyn Nine-Nine set visit at TCA summer press tour, I spoke with executive producer Mike Schur, who had some interesting thoughts on why most shows peak by their second or third season. I turned that into this Quartz story.

“Everyone’s favorite seasons of shows are seasons two and three, because you’ve had a year to get to know them, and then you’re still in the honeymoon period where you go, ‘This is great!’” Mike Schur, the creator and executive producer of the Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, explains to Quartz. “And then after season three, everyone starts to go, ‘Eh, that show’s not as interesting as it was anymore.’ And it’s like, ‘Well you’ve been watching it for three years.’”

The night before, I’d spoken with Modern Family creator Steve Levitan, who is on the other side of that peak and is now dealing with a blacklash as it enters Season 6. Put those two interviews together, and you have one of my favorite TCA summer press tour stories yet!

Why most TV shows peak by their third season

This Show Just Lowered the Median Age of USA Network Viewers by 12 Years

this show just lowered

One of the interesting challenges of TCA winter tour has been searching for nuggets of news that would be most appealing to Quartz readers. I was at it again today with this story out of USA’s presentation, on how Modern Family has lowered the median age of its viewers by 12 years. As I wrote,

Those early statistics are encouraging for USA, which paid a reported $1.4 million per episode for the syndication rights to the show’s first four seasons, and launched the syndication run in September with a lavish marketing campaign usually reserved for original series. “When we brought Modern Family on, the whole idea was, how do we increase the reach of USA and bring new people into the fold?” USA Network President Chris McCumber told Quartz. “It’s already doing that and it’s only been on the air for a few months.”

McCumber also talked with me about trying to use Modern Family’s success to help launch its upcoming comedies, like Sirens.

This show just lowered the median age of USA Network viewers by 12 years

Supporting Characters Bring New Life to Shows

modern family lily

I made my debut at The A.V. Club for my latest story, a look at how long-running shows lean on their supporting characters for a fresh burst of comedic energy that they can no longer get from their leads. I focused on Modern Family, which has turned Lily Tucker-Pritchett (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) into the show’s MVP. As I wrote,

This is the latest example of a sitcom reaching way down its supporting bench, plucking out an underused actor, and relying on their unique, refreshing comic flavor to ride out a rough patch. It’s an essential asset, especially for sitcoms, which thrive on repetition.

Supporting Characters Bring New Life to Shows