The four-time Emmy-winning show's co-executive producer Christopher Lloyd was pleased by the comedy's nod when he spoke to The Times from his home in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Where were you when you heard?
Probably about six inches away from where I am now because it's been about four minutes since I heard from my publicist, and we had a happy little cheer to one another on the phone.
"Modern Family" keeps getting nominated each year. Were you surprised by the nod this year?
You're always a little surprised because you could say that there may be a growing reason to leave us off the list because we've been very well-rewarded by the Emmys in past years. The main thing wasn't a surprise; we're very edified by it because we work for things like this. It may sounds shallow, but we take it seriously. We have been lucky enough to have won a few times, and we don't want to do the season that everyone says, "Oh, it finally stinks." So we work very hard to try and maintain a quality of the show. Getting a nomination like this is a real marker for us, and we celebrate it.
The show's been doing really well the past few years and has received the acclaim of audiences and the academy. So what do you think about it resonates with viewers?
I think it's an awful a lot to do with our cast. I think they're incredibly likable people. And the characters that they portray are just people that viewers want to invite into their homes. Now that's not to slight the writing and directing. I think the whole show is professionally done because we're lucky to have a lot of great people working for us.
The main thing is that it's funny, but it also rings true to people. We tell stories that have an air of familiarity to a lot of our viewers, so it's not just sitting down to watch something that makes you laugh the way you would laugh at a stand-up comedian. You're sitting down to watch something that has a chance of reflecting your life a little bit and maybe even moving you a little bit. As long as we keep doing that I think we'll be doing pretty well with the viewers.
Where are you hoping to see the show head next season? You guys had Mitch and Cam's big wedding this season, so what's next?
We're still actually figuring that out. We've only been at work for about a month planning for the upcoming sixth season. We've got a number of really funny episodes worked out. It's always a good sign when the stories are still springing to mind and you say, "OK great, there's a lot left to explore with these characters."
At the moment we don't have a lot of big milestones. I mean that was the organizing principle of last season. An awful lot was about the wedding, and we don't have anything like that.
But little milestones crop up. The kids get a year older. Alex (Ariel Winter) is heading off to college, Haley (Sarah Hyland) is flirting with a new relationship, Claire (Bowen) is working for her dad (Ed O'Neill), and there are some politics that start to complicate that relationship. There's movement. Cam (Eric Stonestreet) is promoted to being the varsity football coach at his high school now; there's a great deal of pressure that comes with that. So there's movement in all the characters' lives but maybe not the big milestones that we tackled last year.
Did you think there were any glaring omissions in the nominations this year?
I haven't seen whole list. But it seems like that's what people focus on every year, and I understand that, but they never seem to answer the question: 'It's a crime that so-and-so wasn't nominated.' You can't say that and not also point to the person who should come off the list to make room for that person! That should be the new rule!
Other than your own show, who are rooting for in the other categories?
I was a very big "Breaking Bad" fan and a big "True Detective" fan. So I would love to see those. Not that "Breaking Bad" has been lacking in the attention department, but I will root for those guys.
Are there any A-listers or celebrities you're hoping to nab for guest appearances this year?
Not at the moment. We don't really do big splashy guest-star roles all that often. We have a growing cast. We have 11 speaking parts in our little 21-minute play every week, and it's not easy to get them on and off with enough to do as it is.
But chances are every year we have one or two big guest parts, and we think about who might be fun to have in those roles. We have a lot of people who have inquired, "If there's ever anything great, I'd love to be on your show," which is very luxurious position to find yourself in.
If you had to choose from the nominees, who would you have on the show?
["Breaking Bad" star] Bryan Cranston directs for us. So we do get a little Walter White energy. The way he's screaming out, barking out orders and spittle, and people rushing for cover. Yeah, sure, we would love to have him.
But there's always a risk that when someone is too recognizable, they don't really disappear into a role. Like you can't have Beyonce play Luke's (Nolan Gould) ninth-grade Spanish teacher. You'll have everyone going: "That's not Miss Esquivez, that's Beyonce!" So we tend to shy away from that. But that's not to say if we had a splashy role we wouldn't go rushing for some of these actors because they're at the top of their profession.
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