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Why Modern Family Chose A Mockumentary Format For The Show

Many comedy TV fans would likely agree that "Modern Family" is one of the best sitcoms of recent years, right up there with "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," and, more recently, "Abbott Elementary." One other thing that "Modern Family" shares with those other sitcoms is the format: the mockumentary. The various mockumentary sitcoms handle their own format in different ways — "Abbott Elementary," for example, gives the viewers the reason for the cameras in the pilot (a documentary is being filmed about underfunded public schools), while "Modern Family" doesn't explain why there are cameras — but they all see the characters sitting for interviews to discuss the events of the episode. 

In "Modern Family," the interview moments make for plenty of hilarious moments, as do various moments of the family members giving confused or annoyed looks to the camera. And, for fans, it's likely hard to picture the show without such scenes.

So why did the creators of "Modern Family" choose to go the mockumentary route? According to co-creator Steven Levitan in a 2016 interview with The Guardian, there were several reasons why they decided to make it a mockumentary — they loved the form, it allowed efficiency, and, notably, it mirrors another popular type of television: reality TV.

The mockumentary format fit Modern Family for multiple reasons

While speaking to The Guardian, in a feature piece about how "Modern Family" came together, co-creator Steve Levitan opened up about making the decision to have it be a mockumentary.

First and foremost, Levitan liked that it played on another popular television format. He explained, "The mockumentary format felt current, in an age when reality shows were – are – so popular." Beyond that, Levitan revealed that he had recently completed a low-budget pilot that was also mockumentary style, and he quickly came to love the format. Plus, there were plenty of practical reasons. Levitan continued, "From a production standpoint, it allows us to move so much faster. You get the spontaneity of being able to shoot both actors at the same time and not letting jokes get stale while you do coverage. Our hours are great; everybody's happy."

With the end goal being to get a scene to be as funny as can be, it makes sense that they would lean toward a format that allowed as few takes as possible. And, all in all, fans can definitely agree that not only do they meet that goal, but it's impossible to imagine "Modern Family" in any other format.