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Modern family creator explains death in the Halloween episode



Warning: This story contains action details from the Wednesday night episode Modern Family entitled "Good Grief."

Wednesday series of Modern Family titled "Good Grief," Took the nearly one-year Halloween episode of the ABC family comedy and hired her on her side (respectfully) by taking a vacation that killed celebrated, turned into a day to mourn the death of a (mostly) loved one. It turned out that the "significant character" that would strike his creator is the fiery DeDe (Shelley Long), ex-wife of Jay (Ed O & # 39; Neill) and mother of Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) was. , (Those of you who predicted fearfulness for the Pritchett French Bulldog, Stella, can breathe easier.)

DeDe appeared in Season 1

and appeared in seven episodes, most recently in the last season. The tragic news was revealed in the first minute of the episode – giving a new meaning to the term "cold open" – when Claire received a grim call from DeDe's husband Jerry. As we soon learned, she had a heart problem she did not want to talk about, survived an impossible chain of events during her group trip to Greenland (rescued by wolves devoured by whale), only to die peacefully in her sleep 10 pages of suggestions for the hotel staff. And while the audience was reminded during this episode, DeDe was a difficult force to be reckoned with. She told Gloria (Sofia Vergara) at her wedding that she would come back to persecute her. (Which Gloria thought she did that by seeing all the miniature statues she had given to the family for Christmas.) She threatened to murder Cam (Eric Stonestreet) if he ever hurt Mitch. Oh, and she did not want to pay for Claire's singing lessons if she ended up with her father's nose. She was also praised for being a unique and independent spirit (she brought her own ice cubes to restaurants, was thrown out of Scientology, etc.) for helping Mitch cope with his sexuality and comforting Phil ( Ty Burrell) after dropping off a child at school for the first time.

While her mind literally and pervasively pervaded the episode, DeDe herself did not appear in this episode, though we heard Claire DeDe's last hearing voicemail after her contentious final conversation. (DeDe seriously apologized … before Claire got a brief insult.) "Good Grief" revolved around several family members who were still costumed and analyzed their relationship with her. Claire, hard to hug with her eight spider arms, struggled with Mitch to accept the loss; Not only did she feel guilty about this last fight, but throughout her relationship, "I was as mean to mother as she was to me." Both siblings finally came to terms with the idea that parents could be closer to certain children. but that did not mean that they loved the others less. (Cut to: Claire, something against the notion of Jay and Mitch.)

Meanwhile, Luke (Nolan Gould) turned to humor, Hayley (Sarah Hyland) turned to the food (as her mind sharpened), and Alex (Ariel Winter) has changed a bit because of the tragedy. If this old stone were to break, Jay spent most of the episode sublimating his grief and searching for a missing sandwich to finally show his children how DeDe was looking for a particularly crunchy sandwich for his sandwiches. As he passed the bakery and discovered that it was gone, he was depressed for a week. "I did not know how much it meant for me until it was gone," he said poignantly. The episode, which effectively transformed the line of humor and heartbreak, wrapped the camera with Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) that she was the one who ate Jay's sandwich – and planted the dolls that tracked Gloria and "grief "Assumed a, well, good news.

Why was DeDe the death? Will she return in flashbacks or just in puppet form? How did the Halloween episode become a farewell episode? Put down the edible arrangement, raise a pint of West Hollywood ice cream and say "DeDe!" While we Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan on the line to bring us the goods on "Good Grief." [19659003] ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How was DeDe sentenced to death? Have you tried to use someone who, as we say, is difficult, which would make for a more interesting, difficult exploration? How was it not only the size of the loss, but it was the complication of it?
STEVE LEVITAN:
We're just trying to challenge our characters with something new and interesting, so I think you're right. That's one of the things that makes it complicated and interesting. Whenever people have a complicated relationship with somebody and then they die, that brings a lot of things forth. When we talked about different places at the beginning of the season, this idea came up and we liked it. There will indeed be another episode that will deal with the consequences of this.

When you were looking for new challenges and experiences for the characters, did you develop the idea of ​​death and immediately commit yourself to DeDe? Or did you play through a few candidates on your hit list?
That seemed logical to us because it directly affects three of our main characters. It was also a very nice farewell to the character and to Shelley Long, so it seemed like it was the right thing to do. However, the idea of ​​doing it on Halloween came about because, well, I've always had a love for people who go through something unexpected while in a silly costume. I have always loved these kinds of things. We're always doing Halloween shows, and they're a big part of this year's series, so we thought, "Well, let's try to do something totally different on this Halloween." And, strangely enough, it's a holiday that has so many issues of death and things that are scary and all that seemed appropriate in a strange way.

That was my next question. Was it a fascinating challenge to find the emotional weight of the situation? Because people who mourn grievously have something absurd about them.
Something like that happened. You go out, you're disguised as a pirate, and then something serious happens, and suddenly you're forced to go into active or distress mode, or whatever, while you're being ridiculously dressed. It's just another interesting element of this story. I enjoy the challenge of this episode because it's obviously something very serious, but it's not our way of doing a special episode of Modern Family . We want it to be funny. We want it to be comfortable for people – and also for the people of their hearts – so it was a challenge to strike the right tone.

On the other hand, were there any concerns from the network or anywhere where a total death episode would feel too maudlin for this type of comedy?
No. I think, if anything, they were our own worries, but we felt we were up to the challenge. Phil's mother died a few years ago, and I did that episode as well. The story was about something serious and what this person went through was serious. But there are still times when you can laugh, and there are still ways in which people who are not directly involved do something else. There is a way to keep the story entertaining on the whole and still solve a serious problem. Also, two years ago, I lost my mother very suddenly. I remember when it happened to me, we got the call, and it was very shocking, and we just started gathering in my sister's house, and everyone just started to show up. So I tried to help bring a lot of what I thought was right Dunphy Halloween

NEXT PAGE: Levitan on Shelley Long's reaction – and whether Stella is about to go

Parents just understand not … and also no children or spouse in this hit ensemble


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