The ABC comedy Modern Family wrapped up its 11th and final season on Wednesday, April 8, and the finale episode was snappy, smart and unabashedly sentimental of all the characters we love (and sometimes dislike) the most.
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In Modern Family‘s final two episodes, it was pure chaos as usual for the Dunphy and Pritchett families: Just as married fathers Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) are settling into their new family home alongside their daughter Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) and baby son Rexford, Cam suddenly gets offered a coaching position at the University of North Central Missouri. Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) have moved into a motorhome parked in their driveway to escape the chaos of their house, which is filled with their family members: Luke (Nolan Gould), Alex (Ariel Winter), Haley (Sarah Hyland), son-in-law Dylan (Reid Williams), and grandchildren Poppy and George.
Of course, nothing goes as planned – Claire and Phil end up with an empty nest they actually didn’t want, and Mitchell gives up the idea of his dream home and life in the Midwest. However, in typical Modern Family fashion despite the ever-optimism, things fall apart in fortuitous ways, and fans were left feeling that each character would be okay in the end.
Modern Family became an instant hit and credited with “saving” the family comedy genre. It dominated at the Emmys, tying Frasier for five straight Best Comedy wins. At the show’s peak, it pulled in over 14 million viewers a week.
In the finale episode, each of the main characters got to say their goodbye moment, many of which were rooted in physical comedy, the show’s staple: Mitchell and Claire formed a human claw machine to retrieve their old ice-skating trophy; Gloria and Manny shared a sweet mother-son moment (before she handcuffed him to the bathtub faucet); Alex and Haley torment their little brother Luke for the last time, making him reprise his childhood role of “Woofy the dog;” Jay revealed to Gloria that he’s learning Spanish; and Cam sang karaoke and shared quick facts about his comedically cornpone hometown.
“Life is full of change — some big, some small. I learned a long time ago you can fight it or you can try to make the best of it,” summed up Jay in the final voice-over, as viewers saw a succession of page-turns into next chapters. “And that’s all a lot easier if you’ve got people who love you helping you face whatever life throws at you. At least, that’s what helps me sleep at night.” As the lights in the three houses were extinguished, the Dunphy porch light illuminated, reminding viewers of Phil’s reassurance to a bereft Claire: “Leave a porch light on. They come back.”