Watching the Dunphys, Pritchett-Delgados, and Tucker-Pritchetts grow over the past 11 years has made for transformative television. Before Modern Family‘s pilot episode was released in 2009, there wasn’t any show like it on TV. Watching three very different households grow and fight with each other on-screen normalized many families at home.
The award-winning TV series released its first episode in September of 2009 with rave reviews, and viewers wanting more of Phil and Claire, Cam and Mitchell, and Jay and Gloria, and their very modern families.
Updated on September 10th, 2021, by Lynn Gibbs: The first episode of Modern Family introduced the Dunphy, Delgado-Pritchett, and Tucker-Pritchetts. Fans learned that Jay Pritchett is the patriarch of the family and the father of Claire and Mitchell. The two then went on to have their own families, creating their own little modern family. The pilot does a quick introduction of each family’s dynamic, introducing everyone to a new baby, growing teenagers, and a new marriage. But with it being over a decade since the first episode aired, there are a bunch of fun facts that fans don’t know.
12 Julie Bowen Was Eight-And-A-Half Months Pregnant In The Pilot
Fans can’t help but ask themselves one resounding question when rewatching the pilot: was Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphys) pregnant in season 1? Claire wears more sweaters and shirts that don’t suit her usual style in later seasons, and she hid her belly in most scenes.
As it turns out, CheatSheet noted that Julie Bowen was pregnant with twins while filming the show’s pilot. At eight-and-a-half months pregnant, Bowen auditioned for the part of Claire multiple times and wanted it so bad that she cried. According to People, Bowen didn’t think she’d get the part because of her belly, but low and behold, they hired her.
11 An Alternate Perspective
With the families being aware that they’re constantly filmed, fans were wondering if the reason for this documentary of their lives was going to be announced in the 11th season — but it never happened.
According to New Jersey.com, however, the original purpose of the documentary was that a man named Geert Floorjte lived with Jay as a teenaged filmmaking exchange student and began filming everyone. Over time, Geert began having romantic feelings for Claire over her likability, which is why he hung around for so long. But as longtime fans know, writers scrapped the Geert storyline.
10 Jay Could Have Been Totally Different
It’s hard to imaging anyone replacing Ed O’Neil as Jay Pritchett. O’Neil plays jay with such confidence and strength that he’s a pillar on the show. However, Page Six noted that it wasn’t O’Neil who was originally offered the role — it was Craig T. Nelson.
According to the source, Nelson was offered the role but asked for too much money at the start of the show. Considering no one knew how well the show would do, they couldn’t offer him the number he was looking for. Nelson left the show and O’Neil later joined. Knowing that Nelson was a fan of the show later, however, would have made him a great guest star on Modern Family.
9 This Episode Is An Emmy Winner
The pilot of Modern Family was directed by Jason Winer and written by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. Viewers met all three families in a mockumentary style, making it feel more realistic.
The pilot became so popular that it won two Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing in a Series. The actors that fans grew to love went on to sweep multiple awards shows afterward.
8 Baby Lily Is Portrayed By Twin Siblings
Most cinema buffs know that filming with a baby can be incredibly hard. There are entertainment labor laws, according to The US Department of Labor that limits the number of hours a kid can work in a day. Since babies can be fussy, Modern Family hired twin babies Jaden and Ella Hiller for the role of Lily.
But by the third season, the twins were replaced by the actress Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. It was fun for fans to watch Lily transform over the years, as Anderson-Emmons continued playing Lilly from season 3 through the end.
7 Two Networks Turned Down The Pilot
The cast has changed a lot physically in the series finale from the pilot, but the actors remained the same after the Emmy nods.
After winning two Primetime Emmys for the pilot, it’s surprising to think there were networks who weren’t interested. With the screenplay in hand, the creators of Modern Family pitched the sitcom to NBC, CBS, and ABC. According to IMDb, NBC passed because the network already had The Office and Parks and Recreation, two mockumentary-style shows. Fandom noted that CBS turned down the pilot because they reportedly weren’t ready for the series, so next up was ABC. Luckily for them, the sitcom was a winner.
6 Haley And Phil’s On-Screen Connection
After the creators hired Sarah Hyland and Ty Burrell as Haley and Phil Dunphy, they did a screen test at Steven Levitan’s home. According to EW, the on-camera connection between Burrell and Hyland was stronger than the other kids auditioning as Haley.
Burrell did such a good job of portraying Phil’s always funny Phil’sosophies on Modern Family that he became everyone’s favorite TV dad.
5 There’s A Cosmic Twist To An Episode In Season 4
In the pilot episode, Haley tells Phil and Claire that her new boyfriend Dylan was coming over. The only problem was that Dylan was a senior while she was a freshman. As the over-protective and controlling mom, Claire had a huge issue with this and wanted to meet Dylan before welcoming him into their home. After introductions were done, the two went up to Haley’s bedroom.
Claire panicked and used Haley’s laundry as an excuse to barge into her room and keep the door open. Funny enough, in season 4, Haley’s story arc broadens when she has a mirroring moment when she felt the need to barge into Luke’s room when he has a girl over for New Year’s Eve.
4 The Dunphy And Pritchett Households Looked A Little Different In The Pilot
Diehard Modern Family fans noticed something a little different in the Dunphy household. In every episode but the pilot, there’s an office to the right of the door, next to the stairway. But in the pilot, there’s a solid wall. Before Haley dated the likes of Andy, Dylan was the apple of Haley’s eye and was walking up to her bedroom, where fans can clearly see the solid wall.
Another household that looks different is Jay and Gloria’s. In their interview, the stairs are different and so is their living room furniture. After the pilot was released, it’s assumed the set design teams altered the homes to make them easier to work in with regards to camera movement.
3 A Camera Man Makes An Appearance
The pilot is one episode fans don’t want to skip because it’s a fun reminder of how much the family has changed over 11 seasons.
With Modern Family being shot in a mockumentary style, the families are constantly being followed around and filmed going about in their normal life. But just like every TV show, there are a few goofs throughout the series. In the pilot, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment where viewers can catch a glimpse of a cameraman in the mirror next to the Dunphys’ staircase. No one else in that scene was wearing what the man in the mirror was, proving he’s someone behind the scenes.
2 Eagle-Eyed Viewers Noticed Which Airline Mitchell And Cam Were On
At the start, fans didn’t know Mitch and Cam were a couple until Cam joined Mitchell on the plane. The couple was coming back from Vietnam after adopting their baby Lily. As an openly gay couple who just adopted a baby, Mitchell felt like people on the plane were judging them and making derogatory comments. He later stands up and gives a speech to the plane about love and acceptance but it backfires because nobody was being homophobic in the first place.
During this scene, one fan tweeted that the markings on the plane appear to be for the airline WestJet, which the airline confirmed it was on Twitter.
1 The Show Was Almost Called My American Family
When writers pitched the pilot episode to NBC, the show was originally called My American Family, according to USA Today. This series was supposed to have a connection between the families and the camera crew, kind of like a side project.
However, as development went on, that idea was scrapped and the title was changed to Modern Family. The personalities and relationships between the characters are what made the show such a standout success so it was right to keep the focus on them, and Modern Family as a title reflects that a lot better too.
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