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Modern Family episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Written by Steven Levitan
Christopher Lloyd
Directed by Jason Winer
Production no. 1ARG79
Original airdate September 23, 2009
Season 1 episodes

Season 2 →

List of Modern Family episodes

The pilot episode of the television series Modern Family, written by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd and directed by Jason Winer, premiered on ABC in the United States on September 23, 2009. The pilot introduces viewers to three sets of people who make up a single family. The episode is shot in a mockumentary style, with a cameraman following the characters around their everyday lives and interviewing them characters at various intervals. It cuts between the experiences of the three separate units before they all come together at the end of the episode. Jay's family tries to function despite the age difference between himself and his wife. Claire's family tries to punish their son and watch over her daughter and her new boyfriend. Mitchell tries to hide the fact that he and his partner Cameron have adopted a daughter in Vietnam from his family until Cameron invites Mitchell's family without consulting him (which is revealed to be the other two families).

Reviews for the pilot episode compared Modern Family to shows such as Married...with Children, Frasier, Malcolm in the Middle and, most strongly, Arrested Development.[1][2] In the United Kingdom, reviewers saw similarities between Modern Family and Outnumbered.[3] It has also won two awards, Episodic Comedy at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2009 and Directors Guild of America Award.



The episode begins at the home of Phil and Claire Dunphy and their three children Haley, Alex and Luke. Claire and Phil shout up the stairs to the children and, when Haley emerges, Claire tells her that her skirt is too short. Phil, however does not agree and tells her she can wear it. In an interview, the adults discuss how they want to stop their children making the same mistakes that they did when they were growing up and Claire concludes that "I have done our job."

The scene shifts to the soccer field where Gloria Delgado-Pritchett is watching her son Manny play, along with her older partner Jay. Gloria plays the role of overenthusiastic mother on the touchline, instructing her son to try harder. Gloria and Jay are then interviewed, where Gloria discusses the differences between their backgrounds: she comes from a small village in Colombia which is "number one for murders", while he comes from the city. Back on the pitch, Manny spots a beautiful girl riding by on a bicycle and a dispute develops on the sidelines. Gloria speaks to the father of one of the other players, who assumes that Jay is her dad.

The episode next cuts to Mitchell and Cameron, a gay couple on a plane who are returning from Vietnam having adopted a baby, Lily. The other passengers admire Lily, with the man sitting next to Mitchell commenting that Lily's "mother must be very proud." When Cameron walks along the gangway and sits down next to Mitchell an uneasy silence develops. In an interview the characters say that they have been together for five years and had considered asking one of their lesbian friends to help them conceive. Back on the plane, Mitchell threatens to make a speech and does so when a lady says "look at that baby with those cream puffs," which he believes is referring to them but Lily is in fact eating cream puffs. Cameron offers to pay for the headsets of all the passengers.

The next scene is back at the Dunphy residence where Haley has a boy over who claims to be a senior at Haley's high school. In the process of meeting the boy, Phil manages to injure his back, and Haley's friend is forced to carry Phil to the couch, where the family leaves him, rolling their eyes. Haley brings her boyfriend upstairs but gets very annoyed when her mother Claire keeps watching them. Haley goes downstairs to complain to Phil who accidentally shoots Luke, Hayley's friend and then himself.

After the incident at Manny's soccer game, Jay is mistaken for a mall walker so he decides to buy 'hip' clothes at the local mall. Meanwhile, Manny reads a poem for a girl working at the mall.

The last scene is at Mitchell and Cameron's house where Lily is going to be introduced to the rest of the family. Before Lily is introduced, Jay says that Mitchell and Cameron shouldn't adopt and if they're bored they should get a dog. Lily is then introduced to the family while the The Lion King song "The Circle of Life," is played with music by Elton John and Tim Rice.


The episode was filmed in Los Angeles in the United States and is set in a nameless suburban neighborhood.[1] It was written and produced by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan, who had worked together on Frasier.



Nielsen Ratings

The episode premiered on ABC in the United States on September 23, 2009. The show was watched live by 12.61 million viewers, placing it as the most viewed show of the night and the series. It also acquired a Nielsen rating of 4.2/11 in the 18-49 age bracket.[4] The show began broadcasting in the United Kingdom on Sky1 on 15 October 2009.[5] The pilot was watched by 444,000 viewers across two airings, with 348,000 watching the show in the 8pm time slot.[6]

Critical Reception

Critical reaction to the pilot episode was very positive, with some reviewers highlighting it as one of the best new comedies of 2009. Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a 8.8 saying it was "Great" and "The premiere episode does a fantastic job of introducing us to these family units, and it was fun to see how they would be connected to each other in the realm of the series. The smaller issues aside -- the mildly unclear format, some forced clichés -- the pilot episode of Modern Family is a must see comedy".[7] Variety wrote "Easily the new season's best comedy pilot, Modern Family deftly serves up laughs on multiple levels, from understated one-liners to deft sight-gags."[2] Mary McNamara of the LA Times commented "Just when we were thinking it couldn't be done, ABC's Modern Family has single-handedly brought the family comedy back from the dead...Modern Family is sharp, timely and fresh, complicated enough to be interesting but with a soft, sweet center".[8] The New York Times' Gina Bellafante called the series "the best new half-hour of funny television in a season rife with half-hours of funny television".[1] She also felt it was a replacement for Arrested Development, the "last great family comedy" which ended in 2006.

The success of the pilot led to the series holding a rating of 86/100 on Metacritic from 25 reviews.[9] ABC ordered a full 22-episode season of the show.[10]

Awards and Nomination

The episode's director Jason Winer won Directors Guild of America award for Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series.[11] The episode also won for Episodic Comedy at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2009 tieing with Apollo, Apollo.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Bellafante, Ginia (2009-10-22). "Television Review - 'Modern Family' - Dispatches from the Home Front in an ABC sitcom with Ed O'Neill". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  2. ^ a b "Modern Family Review - TV Show Reviews - Analysis of Modern Family The TV Series". Variety. 2009-09-20. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  3. ^ "Does Sky1's Modern Family remind you anything". The Guardian. 2009-10-15. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  4. ^ Seidman, Robert (2009-09-24). "Wednesday broadcast finals: Modern Family down a tenth, Cougar Town up a tenth with adults 18-49". TV by the numbers. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  5. ^ Shepherd, Robert (2009-08-26). "Sky 1 acquires US comedy Modern Family". Broadcast Now. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  6. ^ "Modern Family gathers 444,000 for Sky 1". Broadcast Now. 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  7. ^ Robert Canning (2009-09-22). "Modern Family: "Pilot" Review". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  8. ^ McNamara, Mary (2009-09-23). "'Modern Family'". LA Times.,0,4726840.story. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  9. ^ "The Modern Family reviews at". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  10. ^ Ausiello, Michael (2009-10-08). "ABC orders full seasons of Modern Family, Cougar Town, The Middle". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  11. ^ "Modern Family on ABC : Modern Family Win!". Modern Family ABC. 2010-01-31. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  12. ^ "wga awards". Writers Guild of America, West. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 

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