TV

Where On Earth (And Beyond) Will ‘Modern Family’ Take Its Characters This Season?

The reigning Emmy winner for Outstanding Comedy Series returns for Season 6 next Wednesday, September 24 at 9 PM ET on ABC, and if the early reports are correct, we’re going to be in for an incredible amount of… the same stuff that Modern Family has been giving us throughout the first five seasons. Of course, that “same stuff” that I’ve complained about before has been good enough to win Emmy’s top prize for a comedy series for each of the five seasons that this show has existed, and when it comes down to it, formula or not, Modern Family does a pretty great job of delivering laughs on a weekly basis.

Of course, not everything is going to be the same this season, and at least one character is finally going to sort of evolve beyond his stale gimmick. Manny Delgado will actually have a girlfriend in Season 6, as the old soul in a child’s body has been awkwardly pining for the hands of several women since the beginning, and now we’ll be able to witness how this romantic poet embarrasses himself when he doesn’t have to try as hard to win the girl over. Will she also have a sister or friend that the dorky and dimwitted Luke gets to date at the same time? My magic 8-ball says, “Probably, dude.” Meanwhile, Phil Dunphy (the always wonderful Ty Burrell) is going to be dealing with more than just his bitter rival, Gil Thorpe (the always yelling Rob Riggle), as Steve Zahn will play the obnoxious dude moving in next door. Even Lily is getting an adversary now that Tyne Daly will be playing her new teacher.

But will Manny and Phil be the only characters that get to deal with new situations and obstacles, or will Gloria finally develop into something more than a shrieking caricature that spends her time shopping and going to the salon? Will Haley move forward with her ambition to become a photo-blogger, or will she flirt with boys and continue to be the Lenny to Alex’s George? Will Alex grow as the family’s ambitious intellectual, once again touching on the emotional realities of teenage stress, or will she roll her eyes and make fun of Haley? Will Claire finally take over the family business, or will she keep succumbing to daddy issues? Will Jay ever get over his reservations about Mitchell’s lifestyle, or will he just keep solving things by holding Stella and pouring a drink? And will Cam and Mitchell do anything aside from bicker, gossip and use clever puns?

No, probably not.

My guess is that with all of those Emmys taking up space in Christopher Lloyd’s and Steven Levitan’s offices, Season 6 will feature plenty of celebrity cameos to provide situational relief from the typical stories, but more than anything else, we’re going to be taking more trips with this family. In the first five seasons, Modern Family has already sent its characters to Australia, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Florida, Disney, and a dude ranch in Wyoming. Normally, it takes a show at least five seasons before it starts leaning on new locations to mix things up. So with Modern Family so far ahead of the curve, I thought that I’d offer some new locations that the Pritchetts and Dunphys can visit to really get the most out of their limited gimmicks.

Paris

How has this family not been to Paris yet? Can you imagine a suave and cultured mini-douche like Manny drinking wine like the rest of the 14-year olds in France? Phil would make Clark Griswold look like Clark Gable as he chased Claire all over France while she tried to stop Haley from either falling in love with a random guy (maybe it’s Dylan’s French cousin, still played by Reid Ewing in a delightful TGIF throwback) or taking a modeling contract. Spoiler alert: She’d be back the following episode, after her contract was terminated for some stupid reason.

New Orleans

I say, what kind of family wouldn’t love a trip to N’Awlins for all the gumbo and crawdaddies they can eat? Imagine the hilarity as Phil tries to tackle the regional dialect, or Mitchell and Cam get into an argument over who has more beads. Wait a minute, where’s Lily?!?! Haha, look over there – she’s the queen of the Mardi Gras parade after she helped solve the mystery of the ghost of the Joseph Carroll House.

Japan

Domo arigato, Mr. Pritchett. The west coast meets the Far East in this zany adventure that has Mitchell freaking out when it comes time for him to take his shoes off. Meanwhile, is Jay going to sit on the floor while he eats his dinner? Don’t bet on it! And will Claire’s attempt to spice things up between her and Phil by dressing as a Geisha end as she plans? Or will Clive Bixby totally mess things up? I think we all know the answer to that one!

Tijuana

Ay dios mio, how the heck did this happen? When Luke’s and Manny’s class trip ends up crossing the border, it’s up to Jay and Phil to round up the troops and go rescue them. But will they get more than they bargained for when Haley accidentally becomes a heroin mule when she falls for the hunky young cartel leader? And will Alex want to head back after she sees a lucrative future in developing cleaner forms of cocaine that require less labor? Something tells me it’ll take Gloria’s street smarts to figure this one out.

The North Pole

It’s the day before Christmas Eve and Luke just told Lily that Santa Claus isn’t real! Meanwhile, a burglar has stolen all of the Dunphys presents, so nobody is feeling the holiday spirit. After Phil falls off the roof while putting up the Christmas lights, he has his own It’s a Wonderful Life moment that leads him right to Saint Nick’s doorstep, where he realizes that he and the jolly, old fat man have more in common than he knew!

Medieval England

While supporting Alex and Manny at the local renaissance faire, Luke and Phil come across an old box that doesn’t look like anything special. Little do they know that it holds the key to traveling back to the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Wouldn’t you know it – Lady Guinevere looks a lot like Claire, and it’s up to Phil to rescue her from Sir Mordred, who looks exactly like Gil Thorpe. Things sure can get crazy when you’re 600 years away from home!

The Future

The beauty of TV is that our imagination serves as a crystal ball to look into the future and ask the top question on every fan’s mind – how are things going to turn out for our favorite characters 10, 20 and even 30 years from now? Maybe Phil and Claire are finally sending their fourth kid off to college so they can travel and see the world. Maybe Cam and Mitchell are preparing for Lily’s wedding, while hoping that President Alex Dunphy can make it home for the huge party that Pepper is planning. Manny’s probably on his second or third wife, while Luke turned into the playboy of all playboys. And Haley… haha, well, you’ll just have to tune in to see what happens to her!

Inside the Human Body

In Alex’s most brilliant work to date, she and her nerdy new boyfriend create a shrinking ray that can help make robots small enough to enter the human body and study how diseases affect us. But wouldn’t you know it, just as they’re showing it off to Phil and Claire, and the rest of the family, baby Joe hits a button that shrinks them all and injects them into Frank Dunphy’s body, where they discover that he is about to have a massive heart attack. With only a short amount of time to act, they have to overcome their differences – Cam is devastated that Mitchell doesn’t believe he can still drive a tractor – or else it’s lights out for all of them.

The Moon

In space, nobody can hear Gloria scream. No sitcom has ever sent its cast to the moon before, so this would make Modern Family a lock for a sixth Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy.

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