Why Modern Family's Creator Didn't Want To End The Show Like The Office

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(Image credit: ABC)

Spoilers ahead for the series finale of Modern Family on ABC.

Modern Family has finally wrapped after 11 years of high and lows on ABC, and the one-hour finale did more than just end viewers’ journey with all of the characters. The finale also split the characters up, and in their final goodbyes, Modern Family had one last chance of fully embracing the mockumentary format, a la The Office, and breaking the fourth wall to show the documentary crew.

Given that The Office was a huge success as a long-running sitcom for NBC, it would have made sense for Modern Family to more or less follow its format in the final season. Modern Family co-creator Christopher Llyod specifically explained to EW why Modern Family didn’t go full Office with the mockumentary style:

Look, it’s a valid idea. Obviously, we started out in our pilot having that person be a character. And then the more we thought about, we thought, ‘That might take the audience out of it.’ And then having lived in a mockumentary form without literally a crew for 250 episodes, it felt like it might've been to meta or too cute to maybe do that for us. Because I think The Office made you aware that they were actual people much more than we did. We were just using it as a technique more than a sort of an actual reality.

Although Modern Family has often featured characters directly speaking at the camera while telling stories, venting, or just explaining the unlikely events of an episode, episodes didn’t really nod to the camera crew who were “filming” them. Modern Family was also set in a variety of places and followed characters on their travels, even across the ocean.

The Office was of course primarily set in or around an office. The two shows are very similar in some ways, but those early similarities didn’t require Modern Family to end like The Office did with an acknowledgment of a documentary crew. Besides, any fans who had already been watching Modern Family for a decade when Season 11 kicked off probably weren’t going to give up on the show even if it plainly wasn’t going full mockumentary in its final run of episodes.

I’m guessing any Office fans tuning in probably were happy to be spared a Modern Family version of Pam’s dynamic with boom operator Brian toward the end of its ninth and final season, even if that did end well enough. Despite the Modern Family finale splitting the family in a number of different directions, I would say it was a happy ending.

After all, they weren’t saying goodbye forever to each other, even if they were to viewers. Barring a spinoff, anyway. At least one actor has already expressed willingness to work with a Modern Family coworker again! The finale did leave the door open for a spinoff to carry on the stories.

Mitch and Cam moved to the Midwest with Lily and their new baby boy for Cam to take his dream football coaching job, Alex was headed to Switzerland for a change for her job, Haley and Dylan were bound for their next round of hilarious crises with the twins, Claire and Phil were set to take their RV on a journey, Luke was off to college, Jay was joining Joe and Gloria on the summer trip to South America, and Manny was going on a trip around the globe for a year.

Unfortunately for diehard Modern Family fans, an era has ended with the series finale, and production halts on many TV shows could mean a shortage of new content in the not-too-distant future. Still, you can find plenty of options on our midseason premiere schedule, and our rundown of all the big TV finales coming in spring and summer 2020 can guarantee you won’t miss any more of the big endings that are on the way.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).