“Modern Family” Goes Gadget-Free

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ABC's Emmy-winning sitcom “Modern Family,” in Wednesday's episode, tackled a subject close to my heart- the importance of gadgets in our lives.

The popular show, which last year devoted a full episode to dad Phil and his quest for an iPad on its release date, began the “Unplugged” episode with the Dunphy family -consisting of parents Phil and Claire and kids Haley, Alex and Luke- sitting around the breakfast table together. Unlike on most sitcoms, in which they'd be talking about their day or setting the episode's plot in motion, the Dunphys all found themselves immersed in different technologies.

So one of the parents proposed a contest- no, not like the one on “Seinfeld”– in which the winner would be the member of the family who abstained from gadget usage the longest.

Speaking of “Seinfeld,” lots of funny online lists have been made of which “Seinfeld” episodes would've ended in five minutes if the characters had cell phones. But “Modern Family” put that idea into motion- characters had to engage in such throughout behavior as making plane reservations by phone, doing research for homework using years-out-of-date book-based encyclopedias.

The characters, much like Kramer and Elaine did, succumb one by one, until daughter Haley fakes out her parents- using a bar of soap colored to look like a cell phone- and emerges victorious.

What was great about the episode was the way it showed just how gadget-dependent we are- while also demonstrating that we wouldn't want it any other way. And new technologies are what made my viewing of it possible- I DVR'd the episode and watched it after that night's baseball game, I fast-forwarded through the commercials, and I had my computer out throughout the episode to take notes for this very blog post. (You can download the episode on iTunes here.)

Speaking of how pop culture can show us just how great gadgets are, here's a great routine from comedian Louis C.K. on how we can't quite appreciate them:

In his recent standup special “Hilarious”- featuring a much, much dirtier version of the above– Louis points out that “even the [worst] cell phone in the world is a miracle.” Indeed it is.

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