KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: The dysfunctional cast of Modern Family. Pictures: �Fox

Talk about an explosion of unadulterated satirical humour in what is now lauded as one of the most brilliant comedies of today – Modern Family. With season four starting this week, Debashine Thangevelo looks at how it rose above its share of snags, how Colombian model-turned-actress Sofia Vergara became an overnight sensation and why the show continues to be saluted with award nominations and triumphs.

ALL it takes is one ingenious concept to be fleshed out into a script, a pilot borne out of that, and, voila, a network can have a hit on its hands.

Modern Family is certainly that for the Fox Network, with Christopher Lloyd (The Golden Girls, Wings and Frasier) and Steven Levitan (Just Shoot Me) as the creatives of this veritable cash cow.

Borrowing from the whole American dysfunctional family premise, the producers have taken the show to a new high by giving the gay father characters enough gravitas to guarantee it has a slice-of-life feel. Bottom line, this is one huge family with issues that vary from disagreements over parenting skills to a cross-cultural pollination that creates comedic mayhem, to petty teenage troubles, to that perpetual mid-life crisis surfacing every now and again.

After the introduction of this show, actress Sofia Vergara (Gloria Delgado-Pritchett) was declared the ultimate sex kitten-cum-MILF. With fame, of course, comes greed. And the principal cast of Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Vergara lawyered up to ensure they also got a bigger piece of the pie.

Ironically, Ed O’Neill, who supported his colleagues but wasn’t a part of the lawsuit, is the highest paid actor in the series.

Meanwhile, actress Ariel Winter’s lawsuit against her “abusive” mother received loads of tabloid space, as did the preposterous intimation that Charlize Theron was dating actor Eric Stonestreet.

Off-screen dramas aside, there’s plenty of on-screen shenanigans to keep viewers fighting back the laughter.

In an interview with, Lloyd said: “The big act this season is obviously Jay and Gloria having this baby. There’s a lot of preparation that comes with that and also a lot of fallout. Gloria, for example, is gaining weight, but not wanting to change any of her outfits, which is funny. Jay is caught up dealing with some anxiety about being a dad again, when he thought he was done with that 30 years ago.

“But also, Mitch and Cam worked really hard to try and get a baby last year and now these other people – who weren’t really trying – did.

“And Claire, whose family is smaller because Haley’s gone off to college, is a little bit jealous of Gloria getting to be a mum again.”

As for what becomes of the family dynamics in the Dunphy household with Haley (Sarah Hyland) off to college, he shared: “She’s involved in virtually all the episodes. She heads off to college, but it’s not that far away. She stays in touch and visits home; it’s kind of a typical first-year-in-college experience, in that she feels a bit of loneliness and adjustment. She wants her family, but doesn’t want her family. So it’s a nice change in her life, but she’s far removed from our family.”

Viewers can look forward to the birth of more discord in this rib-tickling instalment that’s pregnant with comic confusion.

• Modern Family, M-Net (DStv channel 101), Wednesday, 7.30pm.