‘Modern Family’ has become one of the most popular sitcoms on television today. The show’s basic premise is a non-traditional family and the adventures they get into. Unlike practically every other sitcom, “Modern Family” consists of three smaller groups. There is the classic dynamic of the husband and wife with a promiscuous child, a highly intelligent child, and a dimwitted one. From there we go to a more abnormal situation, an older white man dating a much younger and attractive Colombian woman with a child from another marriage. The modern family is not over yet. There is also a gay couple with an adopted daughter from Vietnam. This is certainly a more acceptable family structure in today’s America than in the past. With that said, I still do not see it as a median of the modern American family. A show from recent television past seems more “modern” to me. This show is “Malcolm in the Middle.”
“Malcolm in the Middle’s” basic premise started out as the struggles of a middle child with his crazy family and school life. Over time it developed and was less about Malcolm and more about the family in general. Here are ten reasons why Malcolm in the Middle is much closer to the modern day family than the one from “Modern Family.”
1) On “Modern Family,” everyone always learns a lesson about coming together and acceptance. On Malcolm in the Middle, it usually took failure or punishment to learn lessons, if anything was learned at all. Not all mistakes in life bring a family closer together.
2) “Modern Family’s” family is full of winners. Each of the three distinct sectors of the family only has one parent with a job, and they seem to be making plenty of money at this job. On “Malcolm in the Middle,” money was constantly a problem. The mother and father, Lois and Hal, always had their jobs in jeopardy. Malcolm in the Middle’s family was full of losers, much closer to the truth.
3) The “Modern Family” crew never seems to be downright cruel to each other, even in fights. Malcolm in the Middle was the complete opposite. The boys in the family always sabotaged each other, like a real family will do.
4) The romances the family on “Modern Family” has feel forced and not very genuine. The adults have unrealistic love for each other and the kids never seem to strikeout with classmates they are courting. Again, “Malcolm in the Middle” goes in the other direction. The boys on the show were always getting their hearts broken. More importantly, the parents had the realest unconditional love for each other. No matter what problems they dealt with, their love always kept them together.
5) There is never a mess anywhere in the homes on “Modern Family.” The home from “Malcolm in the Middle” was never clean. Most houses, especially the ones filled with teenage boys, tend to be pretty messy in general. This was one aspect of the show that often went underappreciated, the realism to uncleanliness. Nobody on “Modern Family” ever cleans. Everyone on “Malcolm in the Middle” was forced to clean and things always ended up dirtier in the end.
6) Each character on “Modern Family” at their core is a really good person. Each person on “Malcolm in the Middle” is a bit more mysterious. The eldest son Francis was sent away to military school because he was so bad. Even then he continued to cause trouble. Reese is a bully, Malcolm is an elitist, Dewey is a manipulator, and the youngest Jamie has the potential to be like any of them. Although they had these major negatives, they were good people, like real people.
7) Conveniently the group from “Modern Family” happened to be incredibly diverse. Most families are not diverse, even if structured through love and adoption. As different as they were at times, the “Malcolm in the Middle” parents and kids all had similar qualities to one another. This is what happens in real life. When you grow up around certain people, you share a life and personality traits.
8) Confusion seems to be a constant theme on “Modern Family.” Parents Claire and Phil have trouble dealing with their three teenage children all with different personalities. Newly married Gloria and Jay have trouble understanding each other because of the age difference and culture. Cameron and Mitchell’s confusion is about how to take care of their adopted daughter, since this is all new to them. For Malcolm in the Middle there is less confusion. Apparently the “Modern Family’s” characters have never heard of Google for answers. Instead of confusion on “Malcolm in the Middle,” they often resort straight to anger. It reminds me of a lot of families, solving problems with frustrated anger.
9) The “Modern Family” characters certainly may be modern, for a wealthy Southern California clan. They go on fancy vacations constantly. The Malcolm in the Middle cast rarely went on vacations or trips in general. They had to use their imaginations, as destructive as they could be, to provide enjoyment.
10) “Modern Family” feeds into every possible stereotype. From the dimwitted father to the clumsy flamboyantly gay character, “Modern Family” has them all. “Malcolm in the Middle” points at the classic stereotypes then spins it around on us. Genius son Malcolm might have a strong grasp on the world, but he also is clueless at plenty. Reese is a bully and at the same time he is sweet and protects his brothers when he needs to. Even Lois, the terrible screaming mother sticks up for her children. She only seems terrible because logic outweighs feelings. She at one point is even willing to sellout Malcolm over Reese because she knows Reese needs her more. She does what she does for a deeper reason than because she loves her children.
There is no doubt both families love each other and have qualities that the true to life modern family does. Malcolm in the Middle just feels a little more genuine and true to life. Modern Family struggles with emotions while Malcolm in the Middle struggles with everything, like actual families do.