2011 Calvin Awards: Best TV Show
February 14, 2011
This is the sixth year that the staff at Box Office Prophets has included the category of Best Television Show. Over that time frame, I have chronicled our tendency to vote for the same programs. This is understandable behavior. After all, shows rarely demonstrate fundamental changes in quality from season to season. Yes, there will be fluctuation over the course of dozens of episodes, but the maxim applies that talent tends to cluster; what’s good generally stays good.
This is presumably why almost two thirds of our selections during the previous five years of this category have been the recipients of at least one additional inclusion. We like what we like, even as the staff at BOP has grown and some earlier contributors have wandered off to enjoy new shiny things. Our taste in television has remained remarkably stable. Until this year. As I had stated in the announcement of the 2009 awards, a lot of our perennial favorites were reaching the end of their runs, which would open the door for some new blood. 2011 marks a changing of the guard as 60% of our selections in the Best Television Show category are new.
One aspect of the Best Television Show category has not changed, though. For the sixth time in six years, we name a different program our favorite. Modern Family is our choice as the best show on television. We have championed this sitcom since the pilot, so its ascension has always felt like something of a foregone conclusion. Anchored by the best cast working today (sorry, Mad Men), Modern Family has reinvigorated the sitcom genre through its fresh insights into the confusing definition of the, well, modern family. Ostensibly led by underrated comedic actor Ed O’Neill, Modern Family is a rare ensemble piece wherein all of the featured players have been allowed to quickly define and expand their characters.
O’Neill’s character, Jay Pritchett, is a wealthy business owner currently enjoying the company of trophy wife Gloria, a Latina beauty who is a bit scary due to her violent upbringing. She also brings the complexity of her pre-pubescent son, Manny, who is every bit the lover that his mother is the fighter. Frustrated homemaker Claire misses being fun while her husband, Phil, fundamentally lacks the ability to be anything else. Their attempts to give their children the proper upbringing aptly demonstrate why husbands are rarely respected as the disciplinarian of the family but rather seen as another playmate.
The breakout stars of the show, however, are Jay’s gay son Mitchell and his boyfriend, Cameron, who are constantly fighting due to the former being uptight and the latter being hefty and dramatic. BOP always takes Cameron’s side, because Eric Stonestreet is always so adorable, a teddy bear of a human being with a natural warmth that is rarely witnessed on scripted television. Of course, picking our favorite on the show is something that varies each episode due to the engaging nature of all involved. The fact that we felt so immediately and intensely connected to the Pritchett patriarch and all the members of his clan is the reason why we select Modern Family as the Best Television Show of the year, and I would not be surprised if it becomes the first repeat winner in this category. We love the cast that much.