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Modern Family Holds An Awards Show Record That May Never Be Broken

When "Modern Family" wrapped up in 2020 after 11 seasons, it was the end of an era, and not just for the Dunphys. Numerous outlets linked the show's conclusion to a greater television trend. Adweek proclaimed that the series finale signaled the end of the "broadcast sitcom era." Fortune called it the death knell of "the era of big sitcoms." "This isn't just the end of 'Modern Family,'" opined The Telegraph. "It's the end of the sitcom as we know it."

"It's going to be so much harder for a show to capture this country's attention, because [viewers] just have too many options now," "Modern Family" co-creator Steven Levitan told USA Today. "And because people have so many options, I think it's shortening everyone's attention span. It seems like people move on faster these days."

All that eulogizing feels a little dramatic in retrospect, but "Modern Family" had the broad appeal of sitcoms that came before it, like "Seinfeld," "Friends," and "The Office" — shows that seemingly the entire country was watching. It wasn't just popular on a surface level: "Modern Family" won big during awards season, and today, it still holds the Screen Actors Guild Awards record of winning outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series four years in a row. Since the SAG Awards had its inaugural broadcast in 1995 for the 1994 television season, no series has matched that feat. If the sitcom era really is over, it may never happen again.

Modern Family's ensemble cast made it an awards season juggernaut

"Modern Family" stands alone when it comes to the SAG Awards' recognition of ensemble comedy casts, but other series have come close. "Seinfeld" and "Orange Is the New Black" each took home the award three times, and indeed, both series are known for the heavy lifting shared by the entire cast.

The "Modern Family" cast's commitment to the entire ensemble is evident in their Emmy wins as well. During the show's run from 2009 to 2020, the series won 22 Primetime Emmy awards. Notably, when all of the actors submitted their names, they did so in the supporting actor category instead of vying for a lead actor win.

"Most other actors would have submitted themselves for leading man in a comedy series," Eric Stonestreet said of his co-star, Ed O'Neill, who played Jay Pritchett (via Entertainment Weekly). "He's the patriarch of the family, and he certainly would have had a case to do that. He specifically said, 'I know for a fact, I'm supporting or nothing.' Because that's how he looks at himself. He's a member of the ensemble. Ed knows how much we love him and that he's our leader."

When it comes to the Emmys, "Modern Family" holds another record. It won the outstanding comedy series award for five consecutive years. Well, it almost holds the record — "Modern Family" shares the honor with "Frasier," which earned the title first from 1994 to 1998.