The 'Modern Family' Phenomenon

PHOTO The cast of ABCs Modern Family with Good Morning Americas Robin Roberts.PlayABC News
WATCH Magic Behind 'Modern Family'

At a time when the traditional family structure of a mother, father and children describes less than 25 percent of American households, fans have embraced "Modern Family," the hit TV sitcom that follows the lives of three zany Los Angeles families.

"People were sort of hungry for a family comedy that had some heart to it," said the show's co-creator Christopher Lloyd.

It can be hard to keep track of the extended "Modern Family" tree, which centers on patriarch Jay Pritchett who is married to the much younger Gloria and is helping raise her son Manny. Jay's daughter Claire is married to Phil Dunphy, who are raising a brood of three; Jay's son Mitchell and his partner Cameron have an adopted baby girl, Lily.

"It's one big straight-gay, multicultural, traditional, happy family," said Rico Rodriguez, who plays loveable son Manny Delgado.

In just its second season, the Wednesday night ABC show has already done big things, like redefining what family means.

"We've seen pretty strict stereotypes about what functional nuclear families look like and 'Modern Family' shakes up that equation and it makes it clear that we can have all kinds of families in this country," said Johanna Blakley, a guest lecturer at University of Southern California on media and entertainment.

The show has received an outpouring of support from gay families for bringing a gay couple into millions of Americans' living rooms each week.

"We have so many gay fathers and lesbian couples that are coming up to us and saying, 'Thank you for being on TV,'" said Jesse Tyler-Ferguson, who plays Mitchell. "We don't take it lightly. It's really special."

"Good Morning America" conducted a search for real-life modern families -- families whose lives may mirror those of the sitcom's characters -- and received over 1,000 entries. Families of many nationalities, ethnicity and color told "GMA" about the new modern American family -- one big beautiful mosaic. Click here to read their stories.

'Modern Family' Cast: Hilarious Heartbeat of Comedy

The cast is the hilarious heartbeat of this comedy. Sofia Vergara, who plays Gloria, says she loves infusing her own Colombian heritage in her character and sharing it with fans.

"Everybody in Colombia is very excited," she said. "You get to put a lot of personality, of my culture unto the character."

Ed O'Neill, who knows a thing or two about family comedy from playing Al Bundy on "Married... with Children," says he knew "Modern Family" was onto something big from the get go.

"When I read the pilot, I read it twice and I said yes, this is the one," he recalled. "It's the perfect storm... in that there are so many things that work in the show."

A lot of the story lines you see on the show actually happened to the show's creators.

"What will happen is we'll be at the kitchen table...I try to very quietly take out my phone and start to type what people are saying," said co-creator Christopher Lloyd. "My kids will notice it and they'll say, 'Put that away. That better not be in the show.' That happens a lot."

Behind the Scenes: Making the 'Modern Family' Magic

"Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts went behind the scenes of the show today, touring the set and learning the tricks they use to make TV magic.

The Dunphy girls' room, where Alex and Haley have had so many sisterly squabbles, actually doubles as Phil and Claire's bedroom. On the days when the girls are shooting a scene, Phil and Claire's furniture gets stowed away and vice versa.

As for their on-set chemistry, the cast says "it's all love," but like any family, they too can get on each other's nerves.

"Like any good American family, we're in denial. We sweep our feeling under the rug and go home and drink," Julie Bowen joked.

Bowen, a mother of three on the show and to a saner family in real life, said the chaos at home can at times mirror her TV life.

"The chaos is similar," Bowen told Roberts. "These kids are so much more professional and together ...So far none of these kids have asked me to change their diaper, and I really appreciate that."

Nolan Gould and Ariel Winter, who play siblings Luke and Alex Dunphy on the show, said they can fight like brother and sister over whose turn it is to use the computer to check Facebook.

"I actually broke up a few fights over the computer," Bowen admits. "There are times when Nolan and Ariel are fighting over the computer and 'I'm like, that's it!'"

When it comes to which actor is most like their character in real-life, the cast unanimously pointed to Ty Burell, who plays quirky dad Phil Dunphy. "I do a lot of tripping and falling in real life," he joked.

Eric Stonestreet, who plays gay dad Cameron, and Ariel Winter, who plays Alex, were voted the most different from their on-screen personas.

Mitchell and Cam's daughter Lilly, who is so quiet and calm in front of the camera, is played by a set of twins who are quiet and well-behaved by nature, according to the cast.

"It's booze. [Lily] arrives very drunk every day," Jesse Tyler Ferguson joked. "She is remarkably quiet. She comes on the set and she's immediately in character. She is very, very committed to her craft."

All in all, they know they have a good thing going and are grateful for that.

"We all really love each other which I think is good for the show," said Winter.