9. The Pritchett Family Are Taking Part In A TV Documentary
The mockumentary format is a tried and tested comedy trope in film and television, made most famous in recent years by seminal sitcoms The Office, Parks & Recreation and, still going strong, ABC’s Modern Family.
Each episode of Modern Family is shot as though filmed by an invisible documentary camera crew, including excerpts of interviews direct to camera. Ty Burrell, playing doofus ‘cool dad’ Phil, regularly mugs to camera when he thinks he’s being hip or funny. It’s been this way from the first episode, right the way through to this latest eighth season. The only question is, how the hell did this show within a show happen in the first place?
Family patriarch Jay is a cantankerous and wealthy man in his sixties, semi-retired and uninterested in anything that doesn’t relate to his own personal comfort. His kids Claire and Mitchell are, to varying degrees, both oversensitive, tightly wound control freaks uncomfortable with public expression of affection.
All three have married people who are polar opposites to them, and all of their spouses are the kind of people who might well agree to take part in a fly-on-the-wall show like this. The Pritchetts, the focal point of the entire enterprise? Absolutely not… and for eight years?
Claire and Mitchell wouldn’t last a week. Jay would rather ritually disembowel himself than do it for a day. None of the extended family work, or have ever worked, in film or TV, and they don’t seem to know anyone who does. How did this show-within-a-show even get off the ground?