‘The Office’ and ‘Modern Family’ are television and pop-culture staples, but one of them was heavily inspired by the other. Scroll down to read as we spot the similarities and the differences between the two!
‘The Office’ premiered its series finale seven years ago but is still one of the most talked-about shows today. Unlike Ricky Gervais’s two-season UK version that it was inspired from, the Steve Carell starring mockumentary series went on to make 9 seasons. Its soaring popularity and transformation into a global phenomenon often posed a question regarding its ability to spawn a spinoff.
- The similarities between ‘The Office’ and ‘Modern Family’
- How ‘Modern Family’ copied ‘The Office’
- ‘Modern Family’ did not want an ending like ‘The Office’
‘Modern Family’ arrived on our television screens in late 2009 and ended its eleven series run in April this year. Its premise is different from ‘The Office’, which depicted the everyday work lives of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company employees. ‘Modern Family’ follows three modern-day families who find themselves in hilarious situations while dealing with their kids, spouses, and jobs.
Fans of ‘The Office’ and ‘Modern Family’ have discovered similarities between the shows, between their characters, the style, and format. ‘Modern Family’ seems to have been heavily inspired by ‘The Office’, but it certainly didn’t want an ending like it. Keep reading to learn about their similarities, spinoff scandals, and why ‘Modern Family’ didn’t want an ending like ‘The Office’.
The similarities between ‘The Office’ and ‘Modern Family’
Just like ‘The Office’, ‘Modern Family’ employs a faux-documentary style storytelling device, with the characters addressing the audience, by looking at the camera. They’ve often looked at the camera and offered commentary, told stories, and engaged in confessional moments. It’s a clever format that keeps the viewer intrigued, but it isn’t helpful if it reminds them of ‘The Office’!
Their principal characters, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) are quite alike! They share the same energy, enthusiasm, and the unwavering inability to understand innuendos and sarcasm. Michael and Phil have a goofy nature that makes them likeable, even though their personality traits might differ.
‘The Office’ is mostly filmed around the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company office setting, but ‘Modern Family’ follows its characters on their travels. They’re both popular in their own right, with The Office’s quirky characters and Modern Family’s elegant depiction of modern-day families. But there’s an underlying reason behind the constant comparisons of the two shows, and it might surprise you.
How ‘Modern Family’ copied ‘The Office’
With ‘The Office’ achieving success all over the world, the producers and team at NBC began to think of spinoff ideas. It made perfect sense: the characters were popular, and the show was loved enough for its spinoff to garner eyeballs. Justin Spitzer, who was a writer on the series, began developing the idea for a spinoff and came up with ‘Parks and Recreation’. ‘The Office’ team shared some insider scoop about the spinoff with Andy Greene. Their thoughts were recorded in Greene’s book “The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s”.
When the ‘Parks and Rec’ casting process began, the production team felt that the series couldn’t continue to be a spinoff. Rashida Jones, who was then cast in ‘Parks and Rec’, had previously played Jim’s former love interest on ‘The Office’. Spitzer confessed that the two shows couldn’t even exist in the same universe because of that minor technicality.
When ‘Parks and Rec’ took on its own identity, Greg Daniels, ‘The Office’ showrunner, started looking for ideas around a show including a family. When asked about why the spinoff idea never became a reality, he said, “Then Modern Family came along”.
And when ‘Modern Family’ premiered, critic Alan Sepinwall wasn’t alone to tell Greene that “Modern Family shamelessly copied The Office.” Ben Silverman, the NBC chairman at the time also shared his disappointment.
“I was really bummed about that. It annoyed me. ‘Modern Family’ is about a family the way ‘The Office’ is about an office. All I’d wanted to do was a family spin-off. I was so bummed not to be able to pull that off”.
‘Modern Family’ did not want an ending like ‘The Office’
‘The Office’ and ‘Modern Family’ are similar, but it seems that the latter didn’t want the series to end similarly. Fans loved ‘Modern Family’ for bringing its quirks and idiosyncrasies, and something new to the mockumentary table. When asked why the series didn’t take the same route to wrap up the story like ‘The Office’ did, ‘Modern Family’ co-creator Christopher Llyod had some words to share.
In an interview with “EW”, Lloyd explained,
“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 too 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”.
Fans can agree with Lyod because a similar ending would unease the audience. The shows can be similar but a straight-up replication of the iconic ending is hardly acceptable. Which mockumentary-style series do you prefer between ‘The Office’ and ‘Modern Family’? Let us know in the comments.