After eleven seasons, 250 episodes and 22 Emmy awards (including five for Outstanding Comedy Series), the smash hit sitcom Modern Family is ending this week.

In 2009, the pilot of the mockumentary format show introduced us to three households that were revealed at the end of the episode to all be part of one larger family. At the centre: Phil and Claire Dunphy (Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen) and their three kids Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould).

The cast of Modern Family. Promo shot for the series finale which screens on Three on April 10. Photo supplied by Three
The cast of Modern Family. Promo shot for the series finale which screens on Three on April 10. Photo supplied by Three

There was Claire's father Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill) and his second wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara), her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez), and eventually Jay and Gloria's son Joe (now played by Jeremy Maguire).

And then Claire's brother Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), his husband Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and their daughter Lily (eventually played by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons).

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Current global circumstances aside, long-running, across-the-board hit broadcast comedies such as Modern Family are becoming an increasingly rare breed thanks to the rise of streaming, which tends to favour shorter series runs.

Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) and Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo:Three
Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) and Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo:Three

That's not all that's changed - when Modern Family debuted in 2009, it was still relatively bold to feature a gay married couple on a mainstream show, and that was emblematic of the series' titular mission statement to reflect evolving societal notions about what a "typical" family comprised.

At a group interview in Los Angeles marking the end of the show (conducted before the final few episodes were filmed), Ferguson celebrated this aspect.

"Putting a gay couple in the forefront and having them be an integrated part of the family and not leading with the fact that they're gay, I think it was revolutionary back then, and I don't think it's as revolutionary now, which I think is a great thing," says Ferguson. "Meeting them when they're bringing home a child and becoming new parents for the first time, it's something that's incredibly relatable to so many people, gay and straight and nonbinary."

Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo: Three
Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo: Three

"And showing that we were able to make all of the same mistakes raising a child and being in a relationship that everyone else is," adds Stonestreet. "The imperfect relationship is what made it so relatable and real."

Burrell, whose bumbling Phil provided many a comic highlight, is doubtful he'll ever work on something as good again.

"This show does kind of ruin you," says Burrell. "I think everybody is going to go on to do all kinds of great stuff, but this show really does kind of ruin you. The people, the quality of the material, the hours, frankly. Everything about it, it's going to make it hard to follow this job."

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Vergara has nothing but gratitude.

"For me, it was a gift to land a show like Modern Family," Vergara tells TimeOut. "I am super sad that it's ending, but, of course, looking for the next thing, like everybody else. I don't think in my lifetime I'm going to be able to get a group of people like this, to be in a show like this with this success."

Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter), Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould) and Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland)in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo: Three
Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter), Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould) and Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland)in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo: Three

The kids on the show have all literally grown up throughout its run.

"It is kind of strange having those years broadcasted to millions of people," says Gould. "It's like your home movies but for everyone to see."

"I think it's difficult for any child actor to, like, grow up on TV in front of millions of people," admits Winter. "Because millions of people then think that they know you, and they think they can comment on everything you wear, everything you do, or how you grow up and change. I especially hated the year I had braces. It was a really awkward year for me because I also went through puberty that summer."

"I think Ariel is such an amazing woman,"adds Hyland. "And has always been so mature and handles it with such grace and poise."

When a show this popular ends, questions about potential spin-offs naturally arise. Hyland, whose character now has kids of her own with husband Dylan (Reid Ewing) raises her hand when the cast is asked if they'd be up for one.

Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill) in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo: Three
Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill) in the series finale of Modern Family. Photo: Three

Bowen says she is too, but is conscious that the original show captured lightning in a bottle.

"Is this [hypothetical] spin-off as good as Modern Family?" Bowen asks. "Do we get to have the amazing writers? Do we get to have the amazing cast, the incredible hours? Do I get to work in L.A. and see my kids? Then yeah."

"The short answer is: Right now there are no plans," says creator Steven Levitan.

Has Levitan drawn any conclusions about why the show did as well as it did?

"It's an incredible alchemy of elements coming together. It just so rarely happens that the right characters are created and the right actors come along to play those characters and then the right writers come along to help bring those characters to life and further deepen those relationships. To me, it's probably not a coincidence that the majority of the show existed during a time where things felt a little bit happier in the world."


LOWDOWN
Who: The cast of Modern Family
What: After10 years the sitcom is saying goodbye.
When: The special two-part finale will be express viewed tomorrow night, 10:55pm on Three. It will also be available to stream on ThreeNow.

Sidebox: Family Matters

Modern Family is one of the rare shows to make it the ripe old age of 10. Here's five other family comedies that made that rare milestone to keep people laughing for a decade or more.


The Simpsons
The Grand Poobah of family sitcoms is undoubtedly The Simpsons. The animated antics of everyone's favourite dysfunctional family has kept viewers chuckling along and quoting lines to each other for an embiggened - and unrivalled - 31 seasons. Aye carumba!


Family Guy
Where The Simpsons goes Family Guy is sure to follow, only shooting for its laughs in a more crass and wilfully offensive way. It's been trampling on taboos for a huge 18 seasons and even now still remains one of the finest purveyors of the non-sequitur "cut -away" gag.



Friends
As the saying goes the family of the 21st Century is made up friends not relatives, and this show is the epitome of that sentiment, allowing it to sneak on to our list. While audiences got caught up in the lives, loves and romantic breaks of the friends, the show was still very familial with siblings, parents and babies all appearing over the course of its 10 seasons.


Married... With Children
This was the bitter - and bitterly funny - antidote to the sunshine sitcoms of the 80s. For 11 seasons the world tuned in to enjoy the snarky bickering of the Bundys, led by hard-luck shoe salesman Al and his tiger print-wearing wife Peggy. Much to fans' delight shades of Al regularly surfaced in Ed O'Neill's cranky performance as Jay, patriarch of the Pritchett family, in Modern Family.



Happy Days
The nostalgia hit hard in the 70s when Happy Days rocked around the clock to take viewers back to the simpler world of the 50s. The Cunninghams kept people smiling for 10 seasons before making history as the first show ever to "jump the shark" when ultimate cool guy Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on a pair of water skis. Aaaayyyyyy.