Which Ed O’Neill sitcom is the best?


Ed O’Neill made himself a television legend on FOX Married with childrenthen later revitalized her career featuring on ABC modern family. O’Neill may always be best known for his role as the financially strapped and always resentful father of Al Bundy on Married with children, the show that became FOX’s first hit. On television for 11 seasons, Al has become an unlikely idol for the average American man, someone whose life probably isn’t as bad as Al’s but who still struggles to juggle work. and family.


O’Neill never disappeared after Married with children finished, continuing to work steadily in films and TV shows ever since. It wasn’t until he debuted the character of Jay Pritchett on modern family that the second act of O’Neill’s career really began, with the ABC sitcom quickly becoming one of the highest-rated shows on television and running for its 11 seasons before modern family ended. Jay was a very different character from Al, allowing O’Neill to show his range, but occasionally showed flashes of a Bundy-esque perspective.

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Married with children and modern family are comparable in many ways, even beyond sharing O’Neill as the star. They’re both family-centric sitcoms, they both ran for 11 seasons, and they both stood out in their contemporary television landscape. The question is though, if both got similar praise and high ratings, which of the two is actually better?

Married with Children vs. Modern Family Comedy and Humor

Married with children and modern family share one main mission as TV shows: to make everyone who watches laugh, hopefully multiple times. How they carry out this mission, however, is a big distinction between the two. Married with children and modern family both feature verbal jokes delivered in a rapid-fire style that can be overwhelming at times, as well as sight gags and occasional instances of physical slapstick, something that will likely continue in Married with childrenAnimated revival. However, their general humor styles are quite different. Married with childrenThe comedy of is much meaner in general than modern family‘s, with characters constantly exchanging insults, and never afraid to speak out against guest characters.

Married with childrenthe stated intention of was to provide an alternative to things like The Cosby Show, which presented a sanitized and somewhat idealized view of American family life. Bad language and sexual humor also played a big role, much to the chagrin of those who preferred the alternate version of things. However, modern family operates on a more subtle wavelength. modern family also makes a lot of sex jokes, but does them through puns and is generally less overt in this regard. The comedy generated by the Dunphys and Pritchetts until modern familyThe ending is also less about insults and verbal sparring, and tends to be a lot more about laughing with someone than making fun of them. modern family is also closer to The Cosby Show in that his characters are financially well off and rarely deal with working class struggles. In the end, the point comes down to Married with children for a barrage of laughs as it may be the more comedian-focused of the two, but it’s a close race.

Married with children vs modern family characters

Be certain, Married with children and modern family both found success in part due to excellent casting, as all of the regular cast members of both shows ended up clicking with each other. This led to them becoming more believable families, as the actors’ on-screen chemistry was clear. Character-wise, however, the edge definitely has to go to modern family. It might sound like blasphemy to those who worship Ed O’Neill’s Al Bundy Altar and the rest of the Married with children cast, but modern familyThe characterizations of were deeper in general and also saw the characters develop over the years. None of them are really the same in season 11 as they were in season 1.

Related: Why Married With Kids Never Had A Series Finale

However, Married with childrenThe characters in , while funny, were very finely sketched and apparently existed more to facilitate laughs than anything else. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s safe to say that the Bundys are basically the same in the end as they were in the beginning – arguably even worse, especially Al. Compare that to Jay Pritchett of O’Neill, who at the end of modern family has become much more open to showing emotion for those he loves and has come to terms with some of the aspects of his personality that he would rather not give in. There is also the question of secondary characters. Apart from neighbors Marcy, Steve and Jefferson, most Married with childrenThe guest characters were there only to join or be antagonized by the Bundys, with little lives or motivations of their own. Many modern family recurring or guest characters ended up being explored almost to a level comparable to the leads.

Married with children versus the impact and legacy of the modern family

Married with children and modern family both cast long shadows and carry great legacies with them, even outside of the work of Ed O’Neill at the center of their casts. Married with children threw a huge wrench into the television comedy landscape of the late 1980s and also helped establish FOX as the fourth major television network, paving the way for future iconic hits like The simpsons and X files. It also helped set the template for dark and/or petty comedies to follow. Without Married with childrenthere may never be Philadelphia is always sunny Where Curb your enthusiasm or even probably Seinfeld.

Meanwhile, modern family opened up the television comedy to more diversity, featuring a gay couple with adopted children and an interracial, cross-generational marriage at its heart. Even in 2009 when modern family premiere, things like that weren’t too common to see on television. Mitch and Cam’s portrayal has been particularly positive for gay representation in mainstream sitcoms, although he criticizes the decision to cast straight actor Eric Stonestreet, as Cam has been questioned in recent history. Still, Married with children is probably more important to television history as a whole, as well as to pop culture. Ed O’Neill commands the screen in both shows, but Married with children has a greater influence on the genre than the relatively much later Modern family.

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