I was raised on the golden era of traditional sitcoms. Every Thursday night, I tuned into the newest episode of Friends ready to actually laugh out loud. And it delivered. Every time. While some have come close, there hasn’t been a sitcom on that level for me until Modern Family hit the scene. When I saw the trailers for The Real O’Neals, I expected it to just be Modern Family — but the more terrible version. Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Well, I won’t go that far. There were scenes during the newest episode of The Real O’Neals where I could have sworn I was watching Modern Family. But it never bothered me because The Real O’Neals felt fresh and told new jokes.
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There are some things you can’t get away from in sitcoms — the dopey dad, the teenage girl who will not look up from her phone and the type A mother who just can never seem to get her wacky family on track. And all of those exist in The Real O’Neals, but instead of pretending like these are revelations in the comedy world, they double down on the silliness and make it even funnier. I mean, there was a full choreographed dance break during tonight’s episode for no real reason at all.
By understanding that certain characters will always play well in a sitcom, but not accepting them as requirements, The Real O’Neals brings a different take on the modern family sitcom. In fact, as much as I love Phil Dunphy, the dad in The Real O’Neals is more relatable and maybe even a little more endearing. He was dopey, but not incompetent. He forged a relationship with his daughter on something other than eye rolls and nostalgia — you know, the way most fathers and daughters are.
It’s still early in the show’s run, so there is a chance it won’t always be able to keep its fresh voice and funny plotlines, but for now, I definitely think it’s worth a watch. And that’s a lot coming from a die-hard Friends fan.