"Modern Family" Episode Is One Strictly By The iPhone

The only place that America’s total communications revolution has not occurred is inside television’s sitcom households, which is what might make an upcoming episode of ABC’s smart “Modern Family” stand out.

The Feb. 25 episode titled “Connection Lost” was shot using only an Apple iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 tablets and Mac Book Pros, and according to Re/Code, a lot of technical help to make the videos read right on the air. The Web site says a post-production team created a replica Apple OS desktop operating system to make it happen, and that took months.

In the episode, Claire Dunphy, played by Julie Bowen, is off on a business trip but needs to patch up an earlier argument with her free-spirited daughter, Haley, played by Sarah Hyland. Stuck in an airport terminal, she uses social media like FaceTime, Facebook and Pinterest, and iPhone conversations with her family to track her down.

Though most TV sitcoms seem to avoid even the existence of television in their plots, let alone 21st-century devices, you can’t say that about “Modern Family.” Claire’s husband, Phil, played by Ty Burrell, is an enthusiastic early adopter and one entire episode revolved around Claire’s botched attempt to get him a new iPad for his birthday, on the day it was released. The family regularly communicates via text and cell phone, and not always in ways that make cell phones seem like the best invention in the world, either.

In the Re/Code story, Steven Levitan, the executive producer and co-creator of the series, said Apple provided equipment for the episode but it’s not paying for product placement. On the other hand, why would they?

Obviously, thousands, millions, maybe billions of hours of video have been produced by Apple products worldwide, and there’s ample tonnage of it that has been on display across platforms, including, sadly, video of tragedies or crimes.

Levitan said he got the idea from viewing “Noah,” a 17-minute film documenting a couple’s break-up entirely via social media, and computer and iPhone screens. It got a lot of buzz the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, but after a dispute with YouTube, it was taken down from that site, where user-generated content is an ongoing festival of smartphone videos.
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