Modern Family (season 1)

Modern Family (season 1)
Modern Family season 1
Season 1 DVD cover
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 24
Original channel ABC
Original run September 23, 2009 – May 19, 2010
Home video release
DVD release
Region 1 September 21, 2010[1]
Region 2 October 4, 2010[2]
Region 4 November 3, 2010[3]
Blu-ray Disc release
Region A September 21, 2010[1]
Season chronology
← Previous
Next →
Season 2
List of Modern Family episodes

The first season of the television comedy series Modern Family aired between September 23, 2009 and May 19, 2010, on ABC in the United States. The season was produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Lloyd-Levitan Productions with series creators Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan as executive producers.

The series focuses on Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill), his daughter Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen), and his son Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who live in Los Angeles. Claire is a homemaker mom married to Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell); they have three children. Jay is married to a much younger Colombian woman, Gloria (Sofía Vergara), and is helping her raise her pre-teen son, Manny. Mitchell and his partner Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) have adopted a Vietnamese baby, Lily. Season one of Modern Family aired Wednesdays in the United States at 9 p.m. and consisted of 24 episodes.

The season received critical acclaim from most critics, many of whom named it the best new show of 2009. The episode "Fizbo" received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, with BuddyTV naming it the second best show of 2009. It was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards; eight Primetime Emmy Awards and six Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the most nominations for a comedy series after Glee and 30 Rock. The series was also a ratings success and the first season averaged 9.39 million viewers for all 24 episodes.[4] The ratings led to ABC renewing the series for a second season mid-way through the first. The first season DVD and Blu-ray Disc box set was released on September 21, 2010.[1]



"№" refers to the episode number in relation to the entire series, while "#" refers to the episode's number in the season.

# Title Directed by Written by U.S. viewers
(in millions)
Original air date Production
1 1 "Pilot" Jason Winer Steven Levitan & Christopher Lloyd 12.60[5] September 23, 2009 (2009-09-23) 1ARG79
Jay's family tries to function despite the age difference between himself and his second wife, Gloria. Claire's and Phil's family tries to punish their son and watch over their eldest daughter and her new boyfriend. Mitchell tries to hide the fact that he and his partner Cameron have just adopted a baby daughter in Vietnam from his family until Cameron invites Mitchell's family without consulting him (which is revealed to be the other two families, Jay being Mitchell's father and Claire being Mitchell's older sister). 
2 2 "The Bicycle Thief" Jason Winer Bill Wrubel 9.99[6] September 30, 2009 (2009-09-30) 1ARG02

Jay tries to show his stepson he can be a good father; Phil tries to teach his son a lesson by stealing his bike, but gets in trouble when he discovers he got the wrong bike; and Cameron and Mitchell bring Lily to a play group and try to act straight.

Absent: Sarah Hyland as Haley and Ariel Winter as Alex 
3 3 "Come Fly With Me" Jason Winer Dan O'Shannon 8.82[7] October 7, 2009 (2009-10-07) 1ARG04

Jay tries to spend some time alone with his model airplane, but Phil ruins it; Alex and Gloria go to a mall and Gloria tries to convince Alex to wear a dress to a wedding; Mitchell goes to Costco for the first time in his life.

Absent: Sarah Hyland as Haley and Nolan Gould as Luke 
4 4 "The Incident" Jason Winer Steven Levitan 9.35[8] October 14, 2009 (2009-10-14) 1ARG05

Mitchell and Claire's mother visits the family months after she embarrassed Jay and Gloria in front of their family during their wedding. Phil and Claire try to judge whether Haley's boyfriend, Dylan, is acceptable to take her to a concert or not. Mitchell goes to his father's house to tell him that they are inviting his ex-wife to a party, but doesn't tell Gloria. Special Guest star: Shelley Long

Absent: Ariel Winter as Alex 
5 5 "Coal Digger" Jason Winer Christopher Lloyd 8.66[9] October 21, 2009 (2009-10-21) 1ARG03
Manny and Luke get into a fight at school. The family gathers at Jay and Gloria's to watch football. Claire and Gloria get into an argument. 
6 6 "Run for Your Wife" Jason Winer Paul Corrigan & Brad Walsh 9.32[10] October 28, 2009 (2009-10-28) 1ARG01
It is the first day of school and Jay and Gloria fight about Manny's outfit. While the kids are at school, Claire wants some quiet time, but Phil has other ideas. Mitchell and Cameron freak out about a minor incident with Lily. 
7 7 "En Garde" Randall Einhorn Danny Zuker 8.77[11] November 4, 2009 (2009-11-04) 1ARG06
Manny takes up fencing and he is quite talented. Jay is very proud of Manny, which stirs up resentment in Mitchell. These feelings cause Mitchell to confront Claire about something from their past. 
8 8 "Great Expectations" Jason Winer Joe Lawson 9.16[12] November 18, 2009 (2009-11-18) 1ARG07

It is Claire and Phil's anniversary and Jay is having the grand kids over for the night. Meanwhile, Mitchell and Cameron reunite with an old friend.

Special Guest stars: Elizabeth Banks and Edward Norton 
9 9 "Fizbo" Jason Winer Paul Corrigan & Brad Walsh 7.15[13] November 25, 2009 (2009-11-25) 1ARG09
When Phil and Claire try to throw a party for Luke, things go wrong and leads to a trip to the emergency room; Cameron decides to dress up as his clown character Fizbo; Manny has a hard time impressing a girl after taking advice from Jay. 
10 10 "Undeck the Halls" Randall Einhorn Dan O'Shannon 9.67[14] December 9, 2009 (2009-12-09) 1ARG11
Claire and Phil threaten to take away Christmas when the kids get in trouble; Cameron and Mitchell take Lily to get her first picture with Santa. 
11 11 "Up All Night" Michael Spiller Christopher Lloyd 10.22[15] January 6, 2010 (2010-01-06) 1ARG10

Manny's father visits; Phil takes a trip to the hospital. Mitchell and Cameron dispute over a parenting technique.

Special guest star: Benjamin Bratt 
12 12 "Not in My House" Chris Koch Caroline Williams 7.83[16] January 13, 2010 (2010-01-13) 1ARG08

Gloria hates Jay's life-sized dog butler statue. Claire freaks out when she thinks Luke has been looking at naughty pictures on the computer, but they were actually sent to Phil. Mitchell gets upset at Cameron for helping other people too much.

Absent: Rico Rodriguez as Manny 
13 13 "Fifteen Percent" Jason Winer Steven Levitan 9.83[17] January 20, 2010 (2010-01-20) 1ARG12

Mitchell convinces Jay that his friend might be gay. Claire tries to learn how to use the TV remote. Manny has a blind date. Special guest star: Chazz Palminteri and Kristen Schaal

Absent: Ariel Winter as Alex and Nolan Gould as Luke 
14 14 "Moon Landing" Jason Winer Bill Wrubel 9.19[18] February 3, 2010 (2010-02-03) 1ARG13

Things get a little awkward for Jay and Cameron when they go to the gym. An old friend from work visits Claire. Gloria gets into a minor car accident and Mitchell agrees to be her lawyer.

Special guest star: Minnie Driver 
15 15 "My Funky Valentine" Michael Spiller Jerry Collins 9.84[19] February 10, 2010 (2010-02-10) 1ARG16
Claire and Phil spice things up on Valentine's Day. Mitchell and Cameron help Manny with a bully. Jay and Gloria go to a comedy show. 
16 16 "Fears" Reggie Hudlin Steven Levitan 8.01[20] March 3, 2010 (2010-03-03) 1ARG18
Phil and Luke go into the crawlspace under the house, Haley takes her drivers test, Manny tries to get over his fear of roller coasters and Lily says "Mommy" which upsets Cameron and Mitchell. 
17 17 "Truth Be Told" Jason Winer Joe Lawson 9.02[21] March 10, 2010 (2010-03-10) 1ARG17

Phil meets an old girlfriend on Facebook. Jay accidentally kills Manny's turtle. Mitchell tells his boss the truth.

Special guest star: Judy Greer 
18 18 "Starry Night" Jason Winer Danny Zuker 9.18[22] March 24, 2010 (2010-03-24) 1ARG15
Claire and Phil take rival approaches to keeping Haley and Luke focused on projects that are due the next day. Manny's ribbing of Mitchell during a trip with Jay causes tension between the three. Cameron tries to make amends with Gloria for past awkward encounters with a night out in her old neighborhood. 
19 19 "Game Changer" Kevin Sullivan Teleplay: Joe Lawson & Alex Herschlag
Story: Vanessa McCarthy & Joe Lawson
9.51[23] March 31, 2010 (2010-03-31) 1ARG21
iPad release day falls on Phil's birthday, giving Claire an opportunity to finally score an ideal gift for her technophile husband. Manny and Gloria humor Jay—a sore loser at board games—by suppressing their superior chess skills. Mitchell questions his ability to protect his family, while crossed baby monitor signals compel Cameron to secretly intervene in the love life of a neighboring couple. 
20 20 "Benched" Chris Koch Danny Zuker 8.88[24] April 14, 2010 (2010-04-14) 1ARG20

Phil and Jay have a series of encounters regarding authority and basketball. Mitchell meets his new boss, then he and Cameron accidentally destroy his Ferrari. Gloria and Claire's children demand less coddling. Special Guest Star: Justin Kirk

Absent: Sarah Hyland as Haley 
21 21 "Travels with Scout" Seth Gordon Paul Corrigan & Brad Walsh 10.01[25] April 28, 2010 (2010-04-28) 1ARG14

Claire is suspicious when Phil's father shows up for an expected visit. Manny is traumatized by a horror movie. Cam fills the void in Dylan's band for a drummer.

Special guest star: Fred Willard 
22 22 "Airport 2010" Jason Winer Dan O'Shannon & Bill Wrubel 9.48[26] May 5, 2010 (2010-05-05) 1ARG19
Gloria surprises Jay with a trip to Hawaii for his birthday, but he isn't pleased to find out that the entire family is tagging along. When everyone arrives at the airport, chaos ensues with forgotten identification, breaches of security, and flying phobias. 
23 23 "Hawaii" Steven Levitan Paul Corrigan & Brad Walsh 10.34[27] May 12, 2010 (2010-05-12) 1ARG23
Jay's plans to do nothing but relax on vacation are interrupted by an unwelcome reality check. Meanwhile, Phil tries to make the trip romantic for Claire, Mitchell and Cameron disagree on whether they should go sight-seeing, and the kids get themselves into trouble. 
24 24 "Family Portrait" Jason Winer Ilana Wernick 10.14[28] May 19, 2010 (2010-05-19) 1ARG22
Claire makes an effort to take a new family portrait, but everybody is too busy to cooperate: Gloria and Manny go with Phil and Alex to a Lakers game and share an awkward moment on the jumbotron, Cameron gets a job as a wedding singer while Mitchell takes care of Lilly and a stray pigeon, and Luke interviews Jay for a school project. 



While working in the office Lloyd and Levitan were telling stories about their family and they thought that could be a show idea, and started working around the idea of a families being observed in a mockumentary style show. They then later decided it would be a show about three families and their experiences.[29] The show was originally called My American Family.[30] Originally, the camera crew would be run by a fictitious Dutch filmmaker named Geert Floortje who had lived with Jay's family as a teenage exchange student and developed a crush on Claire (while Mitchell had a crush on him), but decided against it.[31] The creators pitched it to three of the four major networks (they did not pitch it to Fox due to problems Lloyd had with the network with previous shows). CBS, not ready to use the single-camera style of filming, nor ready to make another large commitment, did not accept the series. NBC, already having two shows of similar style (mockumentary), The Office and Parks and Recreation, decided against accepting the series until the success of the other two series decreases. ABC accepted the series.[32] The series quickly became a priority for ABC after the pilot episode tested high with focus groups, resulting in the network ordering 13 episodes and adding it to the 2009–2010 fall lineup days ahead of ABC's official schedule announcement.[33][34][35]

The series was given a full season pickup on October 8, 2009.[36][37] On January 12, 2010, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson announced that Modern Family had been renewed for a second season.[38]


Lloyd-Levitan Productions and 20th Century Fox Television produced the series during the first season with the show's creators, Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan as show runner and executive producer. Lloyd and Levitan previously worked on Frasier, Wings, Just Shoot Me, The Wonder Years.[30] The show's writers include Paul Corrigan, Sameer Gardezi, Joe Lawson, Levitan, Lloyd, Dan O'Shannon, Brad Walsh, Caroline Williams, Bill Wrubel, and Danny Zuker.[39] The season also featured episodes directed by seven different directors. Modern Family featured both a "team of directors" as well as several freelance directors. Jason Winer directed more than half the episodes including both the series premiere and the season finale. Michael Spiller directed two episodes of the first season and went on to direct a majority of the second season. Series co-creator, Steven Levitan, also directed the penultimate episode, "Hawaii". The season also featured two freelance directors, Kevin Sullivan and Reginald Hudlin.


Stonestreet, who plays Cameron Tucker, received an Emmy for his performance.

Modern Family employs an ensemble cast. The series focuses on Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill), his daughter Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen), and his son Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who live in Los Angeles. Claire is a homemaker mom married to Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell); they have three children, Haley (Sarah Hyland), the typical teenager,[40] Alex (Ariel Winter), the smart middle child,[41] and Luke (Nolan Gould), the offbeat only son.[42] Jay is married to a much younger Colombian woman, Gloria (Sofía Vergara), and is helping her raise her pre-teen son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez). Mitchell and his partner Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) have adopted a Vietnamese baby, Lily. Ed O'Neill, who is probably the best known actor of the series initially had lost the part to Craig T. Nelson although he was eventually cast after Nelson turned down the part due to money problems.[43] It was also difficult for Julie Bowen as she was pregnant with twins while filming the pilot episode.[44] Eric Stonestreet had to try harder for the part of Cameron Tucker, due to him being an unknown actor at the time.[44] Jesse Tyler Ferguson initially auditioned for the role of Cameron, but the producers thought he was better suited for Mitchell.[44]

The season also featured multiple guest stars. The season featured the first appearance of Fred Willard as Phil's father as Frank Dunphy in two episodes, "Undeck the Halls" and "Travels with Scout".[45] He later went on to be nominated at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, but lost to Neil Patrick Harris's performance on Glee.[46] Other guest spots included Elizabeth Banks and Edward Norton who appeared in the eighth episode, "Great Expectations" with both performances receiving positive reviews.[47][48] Shelley Long appeared in the fourth episode of the season as DeDe Pritchett, Claire and Mitchell's mother and Jay's ex-wife.[49] Many critics gave her casting positive reviews,[50][51] with Entertainment Weekly writer Michael Slezak calling it a "stroke of genius".[51]



The season ranked 21st in the seasonal 18–49 demographic ratings with an average of 3.9 rating/10% share in the demographic meaning that the season was watched by an average of 3.9% of households and 10% average of all televisions were tuned to the season when it was broadcast. The season also ranked 36th in the seasonal total viewers with an average of 9.48 million households.[4] The season became the third highest rated new series, the second highest rated new scripted show, and the highest rated new sitcom that season.[52] The penultimate episode, "Hawaii", was the highest rated episode of the season with a 4.3 rating/11% share in the Nielsen ratings and at the time was the highest rated episode of the series.[53] The lowest rated episode was "Fizbo", which was viewed by an estimated 7.12 million households with a 2.4 rating/7% share in the 18–49 demographic although this is might have been caused by the episode airing on Thanksgiving Eve.[54] The ratings later went up mid-season despite competition against American Idol with two episodes ("My Funky Valentine" and "Fifteen Percent") tying with the pilot as the second highest rated episode of the season.[19]


There was nothing cynical about this series, and the fact that happy endings concluded many of the episodes was warm and inviting, not groan-inducing. Simply put, Modern Family was one of the best new comedies of the season.

Robert Canning

The first season has been met with mostly positive reviews. It received a 'critically acclaimed' Metacritic score of 86 out of 100.[56] Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, calling it "...immediately recognizable as the best new sitcom of the fall..."[57] In Time's review the show was named "the funniest new family comedy of the year."[58] It has also been compared to the 1970s series Soap, in regards to the multiple family aspect, as well as Arrested Development. Some have made comparisons to The Office and Parks and Recreation, due to their mockumentary formats.[59] BuddyTV named the show the second best show in 2009 saying "Every actor is fantastic, every family is interesting, and unlike many shows, there isn't a weak link."[60]

Robert Canning of IGN gave the season a 8.9 saying it was "Great" and called it "Simply put, Modern Family was one of the best new comedies of the season." He also praised the ensemble cast and the characters calling them lovable.[55] Jason Hughes of TV Squad named the show along with ABC Comedy Wednesday (The Middle and Cougar Town) as one of the best shows of 2009.[61] TV Squad writer Allison Waldman called the series "overrated" saying "it's disconnected and uneven" and "The hokey, voice-over narrations at the end of most shows is toe-curling.".[62] It was also named the Best Sitcom of the TV Season by BuddyTV reviewer John Kubicek. He also stated "A killer cast and the funniest and smartest writing TV has seen in a long time helped make this freshman comedy not only the funniest show on TV, but also the best."[63] A poll by the Los Angeles Times said Modern Family is to win Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and beat three year in a row winner 30 Rock.[64] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly ranked the season the third best series of 2009, praising it for finding its tone so fast.[65]

"Fizbo" received positive reviews from critics with many naming it the best episode of the season.[66][67] It ranked number 27th on BuddyTV list of top 50 best episodes of 2009 calling it a "perfect ensemble piece".[67] Robert Canning of IGN said that the episode "continued its trend of outstanding episodes",[66] while The A.V. Club writer named the episode "best episode since the first couple [of episodes]".[68] Nolan Gould, who plays Luke Dunphy, considers it his favorite episode of the series.[69] The episode was later nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Eric Stonestreet's performance as Cameron Tucker and later won.[70][71]

Modern Family drew criticism from some quarters for its portrayal of Cameron and Mitchell as not being physically affectionate with each other. The criticism spawned a Facebook campaign to demand Mitchell and Cameron be allowed to kiss. In response to the controversy, producers released a statement that a season two episode would address Mitchell's discomfort with public displays of affection. Executive producer Levitan has said that it was unfortunate that the issue had arisen, since the show's writers had always planned on such a scene "as part of the natural development of the show."[72] The episode, "The Kiss" eventually aired and drew praise from multiple critics for the subtle nature of the kiss[73][74] and became the fourth highest rated episode of the series so far.[75]

Awards and nominations

The series has been nominated for numerous awards, of which 10 were won. The first of which were Best Episodic Comedy for the "pilot episode" tying with 30 Rocks Robert Carlock for his work on "Apollo, Apollo" and New Series at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2009.[76] The pilot episode also won Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series for the "Pilot" and also at the Young Artist Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series.[77][78] The season also received a Peabody Award.[79] The show was later nominated for 14 Primetime Emmy Awards, the third most Emmy nominations for a comedy series for 2009 after Glee and 30 Rock.[80] The season later won 6 of the 14 Emmy nominations including Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. The season is currently nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for series co-creator Steven Levitan's work on the penultimate episode, "Hawaii".[81]


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