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How Modern Family Could Have Been A Completely Different Show

Among all the drama-and-comedy-fueled domestic sitcoms served up on television, the exploits of the Dunphys and Pritchetts on the long-running "Modern Family" represent one the most adroitly scripted, critically celebrated examples of the genre in primetime history (per The Washington Post).

Featuring spot-on comic performances from sitcom veteran Ed O'Neill as Jay Pritchett and Sofia Vergara as his wife Gloria, with Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen as Phil and Claire Dunphy, the show ran for 11 seasons through 2020 and over 250 episodes (per IMDb). Every episode in the series could be counted on to deliver both sly and hilarious humor while also building in life lessons, small and large, to add some nutritional entertainment value to the laughs.

For instance, the show is unafraid to tackle social issues. One of the show's main cornerstones is the partnership and eventual marriage between Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). In this respect, the show avoids growing preachy, always balancing its humor and so-called 'messaging' within episodes with consummate grace and skill. However, longtime fans may be surprised to discover that the "Modern Family" they know and love could have been a sitcom horse of a very different color.

The show could have had another title and some very different stories and actors

While "Modern Family" became a well-known viewing destination for audiences, the familiar show could have undergone a few canon-tweaking changes during its early development.

As noted in a 2020 USA Today review of Marc Freeman's book "Modern Family: The Untold Oral History of One of Television's Groundbreaking Sitcoms," it was initially uncertain how many families would be involved, with three separate households spanning the same extended family finally getting the nod. The show's title also changed, evolving from "My American Family" to the final version. A few other potential alterations to the series involved storylines that eventually got axed. Among the discarded pitches was one that sees Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland) getting pregnant in Season 5 instead of the tenth season, as well as an arc that involves Claire having another child in Season 4.

Also revealed in the USA Today article are a number of famous faces who might have been cast in the show instead of the actors we eventually came to know. For instance, Craig T. Nelson was up for the part of Jay Pritchett. Likewise, Lisa Kudrow and Leah Remini, among others, were considered for Claire, with David Harbour looked at for Phil. Another casting pick that would've changed "Modern Family" big time: Matt LeBlanc as Phil. But, as reported in another USA Today piece, the actor bowed out, saying simply, "I'm not the guy for this."