The full cast of Modern Family, minus patriarch Ed O’Neill — Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Sofía Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Reid Ewing, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons and Jeremy Maguire — joined co-creator Steve Levitan onstage at the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour to say goodbye to their groundbreaking series, which ends in April after 11 seasons.
While Levitan and the show’s writers had thought about how they would end the show periodically throughout the years, “it sort of depended which season we ended it on,” he said. “Had we ended it last season, then I think it probably would’ve revolved around the birth of the new babies,” he continued, referring to the twins born to Sarah Hyland’s Haley in the season 10 finale. “But since we went past that point, we were in uncharted territory.”
Instead, Levitan said, he and his team have been plotting the show’s series finale for the past year and a half, ever since they found out that the sitcom would be renewed for an 11th season.
The panel was filled with plenty of fond reminiscing — Ferguson, Stonestreet and Levitan discussed the inclusion of gay couple Mitch and Cam as major players rather than side characters — and not-so-fond looking back. Winter, Gould and Rodriguez lamented experiencing their most awkward pubescent years on national television.
The cast and Levitan also discussed a potential spinoff: “Right now there are no plans,” Levitan said, but castmembers, including Bowen, said they’d be amenable to one if the circumstances (and schedule) were right.
Looking back on the series’ success, Levitan and his cast all reflected on the show’s impact and legacy.
“To me it’s probably not a coincidence that Modern Family was largely a show [where] the majority of the show existed during a time where things felt a little bit happier in the world,” he said. “I think it just was all these different elements came together and that’s a rare thing.”
While several episodes this season have focused on lasts — the last Halloween, the last Christmas — it hasn’t necessarily sunk in yet to most of the cast that they’re in the home stretch. The actors and crew have four episodes left to film.
“I’m anticipating a lot of that happening now that the holidays are over and we’re headed into the last four episodes,” Burrell said. “For whatever reason, I think my capacity for denial was sophisticated enough that I haven’t really gone there yet.”
Before the panel’s end, one reporter asked about an early scene where the Dunphy children — including then 10- and 11-year-old Gould and Winter — walk in on their parents having sex. Bowen said she didn’t think the youngest kids knew what was going on at the time, and Gould confirmed.
“I still don’t,” the now 21-year-old cracked. “Could someone please explain it to me?”
Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.