TV Gem

Posted: March 26, 2010 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

There’s a unique sitcom TV show currently playing, called “Modern Family”.

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that the show is an amazing success, given that one of the creators is Christopher Lloyd.  Still, it surprised me.

Each week, we follow at least different story threads, burped across our screens by the patriarch and his robbed-cradle bride (and her son from a previous marriage); his gay son and his very large lover (the latter of whom wears his overly large heart on his sleeve – you can’t help but appreciate him); and his daughter, her goofy husband and their three kids.  There things I like about it, are: 1) that it tries very hard to avoid clichés; and 2) that it beautifully portrays the heart and soul of a truly loving extended family.   The guys in the crowd who are reading this need not run away at this point:  this is no chick flick.  There’s enough comedy to keep everyone happy, but the thing is:  there are no cynical conclusions being reached here, as is the case with so many TV shows and movies.

The impulse to write this blog tonight, and specifically about this program, comes from a PVR viewing of the show this evening.  Fortunately, there is a variety of TV shows which, because of their exceptional quality, have found a place on my permanent-record list, and this – Modern Family – is one of them.  I say “fortunate” because I’ve been on a work trip to Ottawa this week and so wasn’t around to enjoy these shows.    So I watched some tonight.

This particular episode of Modern Family had one story thread that riveted my wayward attention to the screen for the duration:  it concerned the goofy father and his equally scattered young son.   One of his daughters – the very bright one, named Alex – mentioned in passing that perhaps Luke – the son – might have ADHD.   Luke objects “I do not!  What’s ADHD?”

Alex replies “I’d tell you but….” and at that point Luke wanders away, and she finishes with “you’d leave before I got to the ‘H'”

The more I saw of this story thread, the more I realized a couple of things.  First, that it got the symptoms of ADHD down exactly right.  They didn’t use Alex just to preach to us what those were; instead we got to see it acted out by the father and son, each oblivious to the typical ADHD actions of the other.   The mother was exasperated and was at her wit’s end with her son’s complete lack of focus, so we saw the father attempt to oversee his son as he worked on a school project that was due the next day.

The father had to go down to the garage to get something (I honestly forget what it was, and attribute that lack of detail to my own problems with focus), and as he stepped into the room, he got distracted by an overhead light that was flickering.  So he got up and opened up the light fixture to see what was wrong with the bulb, when he realized, from that new height, that he had found his sunglasses, which were dangerously perched on the top of a shelf.  As we see him lose the focus for the flickering light and latch on to the sunglasses, we hear Alex talking through some of the ADHD symptoms with her mother while the father acts them out.  And we see the light of realization dawn in the mother’s eyes at the same time.  Alex mentions that one of the symptoms involve ADHD folk getting into accidents, while we see Phil (the husband) put a bench down and put a chair on top of it, just so that he can climb up to get the sunglasses on the top of the shelf.  Then we see him fall, just as Alex finishes listing the ADHD symptoms.  Clair (the mother) rushes out to the garage to see if he’s OK (he is).

I was simply amazed at all of this.  Which brings me to the second realization:  I have done all of this!  All of it.  I’ve put myself in danger to fulfill an immediate impulse like fixing something high up and using precariously-placed chairs and tables to do so.  I have had immediate goals, only to have them immediately supplanted with new goals as other items come into focus, with the end result being that I’ll end up at the end of the day doing something completely divorced and disconnected from my original goal.  Many of the goals I hit upon during that day never actually get completed.

I can go into the bedroom for a pair of socks and end up being late for an appointment because I got involved with a photo album I hadn’t seen in ages.

This frustrates others in my life to a high degree.  People who think I’m just being rude or inconsiderate. One friend read me the riot act, because she was so hurt that I was always late whenever we decided to get together.  She told me that from here on in, if I didn’t arrive on time when we were to get together, she would leave.   To be fair, she had a problem with others in her life who did the same thing and she was certain they just didn’t value her enough.

It’s not that I’m inconsiderate or wrapped up in myself.  Let me tell you what it is though:

These baubles, these shiny thoughts and interruptions hit people like me with their immediacy.  Knowing my propensity for losing focus has meant that I worry that some important things won’t get done.  Hence, the habit of putting myself in physical danger in order to fulfill the impulse *now*, before it has a chance to run away from me.

I also talk very fast sometimes, and people have to tell me to slow down.  I now realize:  it’s because of the thunderous crowd of thoughts that I want to make sure and touch on, and I’m worried I’ll lose them before getting a chance to say them.

Some of us use lists to make sure stuff gets done.  I use my iPhone and make sure everything that is critical gets scheduled.  This works to a degree because each important item is attached to multiple alarms.  And really, what better way to gain focus on the important stuff than to have a jingly little bell taking your focus and forcefully and repeatedly reminding you?

“Ding! Ding”  (Oh.  Time to get ready for the next meeting.   Wait.   There’s that email I was looking for.  And there it is right there – he *did* say he would take on that responsibility.  Maybe I’d better send it to him just to remind him.  And….wait.  Is that the new meeting notice I’ve been waiting for?  Wow.  I wondered——)

“I said DING DING, BITCH!”  (Right.  Get to the meeting)

(Ok that was a joke, but maybe I should design an actual ring tone that says that.  Maybe I can find one that’s already on the net somewhere…and….)

*waves single finger in front of my eyes*  FOOOOCUS.


Maybe you have these symptoms.  Or maybe there’s someone in your life who drives you just to the edge of insane, and you know if he or she misses one more appointment, or falls and hurts him or herself one more time, you’ll go over the edge.

Anyway – it’s something to think about.

(I hope that TV show wins an award or something)

  1. Jessica says:

    I flippin’ LOVE that show!!! I also just watched it last night, and I don’t remember what the dad went down to the garage for either. Yikes!
    Great post. :)


  2. Randy says:

    I’ve heard of that show, and they were good things I heard, but I’ve never watched it. Am actively cutting back on TV.

    I have a list of shows I have always watched, but as they get taken off the air, I don’t replace them with new shows. I think I’m down to 6 hours a week now … not counting sports. Sports don’t count! ;)

    But ya, just might ckeck out Modern Family. Thanks! :)


    • I think sports qualify as Reality TV. So yes, they don’t count, I agree.

      I’d like to know what you think after you see one episode, Randy. I often ask such things as a form of reality-check. :)


  3. Just Kate says:

    Having read your description of the show and that one particular episode has left me with a grin. I’ll have to check it out, assuming I can find it.

    One of the things I like best about talking with you is the fact that you’re willing to bounce from subject to subject to subject as one idea sparks another. It doesn’t frustrate me in the least. That being said, it drives me crazy when my daughter heads to her bedroom for, say, a pair of socks, and doesn’t come back for two hours because she forgot the socks, turned on the radio, started to dance, then remembered a really cute outfit that she’d look great dancing in, decided to try it on, and so it goes… I’m forever losing track of her.


    • Hmm. The psychiatrist at the ADHD conference I attended said that ADHD is an inherited life-long trait. So…did you daughter get this from you or hubby, I wonder? Either way, if there’s a method or tool for handling these wayword tendencies (other than meds) I haven’t learned it yet. I’m still waiting to get in for an assessment. You can be sure I’ll post something here once as this ADHD trip progresses.

      I Love Love LOVE talking with someone like you Katy, who actually enjoys the conversational leap-frogging that we do. It’s so much fun, isn’t it?

      I actually enjoy it too (in the most evil schadenfreude way possible) when someone doesn’t enjoy this style of conversation, and I get to see the look of frustration and disgust on their face. I have no idea why that makes me smile, but it does.


      • unequivocalkate says:

        For some reason I’m not being notified when you respond to a comment or publish a new post.

        Anyway, our daughter is adopted, so were not exactly sure where the ADD comes from (it’s definitely not ADHD because she’s a sleepy/dreamy girl). ADD/ADHD is a result of the way a person’s brain is wired, so there’s not much one can do organically to impact it. Medication can certainly help and there are all different kinds – stimulants like methylphenidate and non-stimulants like Adderall. The newer time-release drugs are the best because one doesn’t have to take three doses a day! There are other drugs, but those are the primary drugs used to treat ADD and ADHD.

        Our son absolutely refuses to take medication for his ADD (this one is our biological son and there’s no doubt he gets it from me) because he says it stifles his creativity and turns him into a focused, driven, irritable person. Without the meds he’s creative, laid-back, and tends to hyper-focus on what interests him, while completely ignoring the things that don’t. I agree with his decision because I love my son for who he is and didn’t like seeing him so changed on meds. That being said, he does struggle with ADD. Either choice (to take meds or not) involves a compromise. He chose the compromise that works best for him.

        I hate the way society, beginning in elementary school, tries to shove every kid into the same mold. Einstein had ADD, for God’s sake. What if his parents had the means to medicate him out of it?!! So many children and adults are medicated for ADD/ADHD that it frightens me. I won’t take medication for it either. That means I’ll likely always be someone with a fluid mind, but I love that about myself.

        I’m going to take a wild guess and say the looks of disgust and irritation you get make you smile because you feel a little bit sorry for the other guy! lol Personally, I get bored when people can’t ping along with me. Like I said when we first me, my mind likes yours! ;D


        • You might want to subscribe again – there was an issue when I applied the domain name change for this blog (it was and is now just, that may have affected subscriptions.

          *slapping forehead* I *knew* your daughter was adopted Katy. I mean we only talked about it, what, 50 times or so? Yet, still my mind burped and I made that bonehead comment about her inheriting ADHD from you. *laughing* Sorry about that!

          One of the things they talked about at the ADHD conference was the effect of meds. One of the hosts – Rick Green (he’s an actor/writer/producer) mentioned that he had brought up his fears to his doctor: he knew he enjoyed his creativity and was concerned that it would become inhibited if he went on medications. The doctor reassured him he would still be the same creative guy – just with more focus. When he started taking the meds, he said he noticed no different feelings but he did notice that he was getting more projects done.

          On the hyper-focus side of ADD/ADHD: most people don’t understand that apparent anomaly, so at least with your mentioning it we get to discuss it a bit. (I’m glad you brought it up). Someone else I read – on – said that with meds he had more opportunity to exercise that hyper-focus. *shrug* My gut tells me that meds affect people differently, and that only trial and error is any kind of effective barometer. Not very comforting is it? Certainly it isn’t for me, although I’m anxious to see what would happen. I suppose I’ll have to cut down on the crack cocaine and mushrooms for a while though.

          Hyper-focus: I have it too sometimes and it is *such* a great feeling! Because you get to get what you’re focused on done with flying colours. It’s why so many of us excel in school when we leave everything until the last minute. We get that adrenaline/fear rush which keeps us rivetted on our project/studying the night before.

          I’ve got a feeling my daughter has this too. Like you and me, she and I can talk circles around the rest of the room. No freaking wonder her mother was so frustrated with her all of her life. *laughing*

          I think your second last line says it all, Katy: people with ADD/ADHD are easily bored. I suppose some would interpret that as a haughty and somewhat patronizing trait. It’s not – it just is what it is, and it’s what drives people like Einstein into realms of possibility that puzzled people so much. His personal habits were astoundingly atrocious and people couldn’t figure out why he was brilliant on one side, and so horribly lacking on the other side.

          On the site someone has produced a list of well known people who’ve either come and said they’ve had it, or they’ve exhibited symptoms (like Einstein) which looks suspiciously as if they had it.

          Wow. You got me talking and talking once again lady! You’re clearly good for the soul. *smiling*


          • I resubscribed and the problem appears to be fixed! Yay!

            I don’t know if you’ll think I’m good for the soul when you get the stream-of-consciousness e-mail I just sent you! I needed to process a few things. As usual, I didn’t edit myself or even bother reading it back. I just sent it – BOOM! I know you can handle it. *grins*

            But back to your blog! I hesitated to say the bit about being easily bored for exactly the reason you noted. I didn’t want it to be misconstrued as being haughty or patronizing when it’s not meant to be. It’s just… a simple truth. I’m TERRIBLE at small talk. I can’t sustain it for more than a minute or two before I’m fidgeting and if I don’t get away quickly enough, I’ll say something outrageous or totally irrelevant to the weather and, well, sometimes it cracks people up and other times it offends people. What can I say? I lack that particular social skill or social grace. It was constantly getting me in trouble back in my church days.

            Our son was TOTALLY incorrigible when he was growing up. It was hysterical. His mind would ping from this thing to that and it drove people nuts. His preschool teacher once put a video camera in the classroom so his father and I could see just how naughty he was. I still have that tape because I love it so much. The teacher is droning on and all the other kids are sitting there, apparently rapt or just terribly self-controlled, and our boy is squirming in his seat, then standing in it, then laying across the table, then fidgeting with a little girl’s necklace, then yawning hugely, then up and away to write on a white board!! LOL!!!!!!!

            I was a bad mom because I laughed uproariously when they showed me. I just couldn’t stop. I explained that we’d tried to spank him into submission, talk him into submission, blah blah blah but eventually realized it wasn’t something we could change and we stopped apologizing for it. He was always quiet and attentive when he was interested.

            He also sent an 8th grade teacher out of the classroom in tears. We arrived shortly after we received the “emergency” phone call and found Nic happily teaching the class. He’d become interested in a tangent and swooped the class right along with him. The teacher couldn’t recapture their interest. It was awesome. I felt sorry for the teacher, don’t get me wrong, but aren’t we suppose to be teaching our children to think for themselves? Aren’t we meant to encourage curiosity and questioning? He might have been a pain in the ass, but he was this brilliant kid. Some teachers loved him and others, frankly, hated him.

            Anyway, I think you’re 100% correct about medication. It affects everyone differently. Different meds work for different people and dosage is critically important. After innumerable trials, we discovered that nothing really worked for our son. Everything he tried took the edge off his creativity and made him act and feel like a different person. But that’s just him. I know it works for many people. I actually wish it worked for him. He only takes it when he has a project he absolutely has to do that he’s not interested in. It gets him through it and then he’s finished with the meds. Thankfully, MOST ADD/ADHD meds are short acting.

            But, seriously, do you really want to give up on the crack and shrooms…? Talk about a compromise. I’d think about it carefully if I were you.

            As for me, I won’t take the meds because the type of ADHD I have is something I can happily live with. I don’t get distracted the way you describe and the way my son and daughter both do. I simply hyper-focus on whatever I’m doing. It makes me incredibly efficient but not much fun to be around because I cannot tolerate distractions. I have a sign on my office door that says, “DO NOT BOTHER ME UNLESS YOU’RE ON FIRE!” and I mean it. There’s that and there’s also my busy mind. I have a good friend that constantly tells me to slow down. I try but I get impatient. When I’m done, I’m done. Again, not a great in social situations. Maybe that’s why I’ll take being on a stage to being in a group any ‘ol day of the week.

            Phew! Lotsa words!


            • Bloody *WONDERFUL* reading all of this!! I mean that! (And I know you know that already)

              I was sitting here smiling from ear to ear when I read about your son’s antics in the classroom. You are so right (obviously): we want our kids to be inquisitive explorers, not drones. Clearly he excels at this. Sounds like a guy I’d like to know, for sure.

              One of my employees called me on the phone today. He had lots to say, since I’d been away for a week on a management meeting. Lots to say. Too much to say, really (from my standpoint, not generally speaking). I found myself checking emails while he spoke, and consequently I tuned out and back in to what became an excruciating conversation. But heck, it’s my job and he’s a decent guy. So add to the pain, a little bit of guilt and there you have a wonderful sunny day in hell.

              You and I spoke one time about how bad we are at phone calls. And this was LONG before we spoke about ADD (well, considering that we just started talking about recently). *grin* But yeah – that’s the heart of it. I can’t stand small talk, either not because polite grease-the-wheels conversation doesn’t have its place in decent society. It just has no place in MY society. Call me up and talk about jumping off of a cliff in para-glider, and I’m right there with you. Call me up and talk about, oh I don’t know, how Stephen King is underappreciated and I’ll find a way to hang up on you as soon as I can.

              *The Stephen King conversation actually happened*
              **And I really hung up**

              :D :D :D


              • I laughed so hard I snorted! Actually, I’m still laughing… My daughter just asked me if I’m okay and she’s giving me this funny, quizzical look. Okay, breathe…

                Here’s where my mind went when you started talking about the phone. First of all, you know that I suck at phone conversations, too. I have to REALLY be in the zone. Anyway, my mind went straight to that one time… *snorts*

                *pulling it together*

                when I was trying to get past the awkward point of talking with someone for the first time and JUST when I thought we were fine everything went silent… “Hello? Hello? Uh… Doug? Are you there?” I actually took off my headset and looked at it, thumped the ear bud, put it on again. “Um… Doug?”

                LOL!!! Tell me you’re laughing too! =D

                Then an e-mail pops up that says something like this, “Sorry, Katy, I lost the connection. Talk again soon!” LOL!!!

                Liar! =D

                Oh, God, I just snorted again. Too funny!

                I KNOW we weren’t talking about Stephen King. What the hell were we talking about? *tilts head* Never mind. I hadn’t thought of that in a long time but you brought the memory rushing back with much hilarity!! I refuse to be insulted. *grins*

                A phone call must be spontaneous to interesting. I’m totally with you. Sometimes you just gotta put a suffering thing out of it’s misery. ;D


  4. Back in the days when I worked, I often counseled people with ADHD. Since it was a counseling situation, I was usually presented with the negative sides of ADHD. I noticed, but did not really appreciate the significance of the fact that the people who felt it was a problem were the OTHER people.

    The people with ADHD usually were quite happy with themselves.

    After reading this post, I finally get it…ADHD can be a lot of fun!

    Great Post!!!


    • You nailed that observation so accurately, Roger. I’m at a loss for words to describe it – it’s like there’s a party going on all the time, and the boring routine stuff around us just can’t hold our interest for too long.

      I used to feel guilty about it, even going so far as to read a newspaper article or “important work email” right to the end. Eventually you learn to let go though and just skim for the relevant parts.

      Too right I’m happy with myself. And it gives me such a good feeling when someone who doesn’t have it, understands that. So thank you Roger!


  5. Rick says:

    I’m not familiar with the show but I am familiar with your always enjoyable writing. I must share a little of that “lost in detour” trait with you, brother, because it happens to me from time to time… I have a to-do list that is not very lengthy but is fraught with detour-risk, should it involve delving into the past via music in my collection (item example: “burn favourite vinyl tracks to CDs”… this could take months, so I avoid it) or weeding through old journals and poetry writes… ugh.

    Still, it can be fun when the weather is a sumbitch and there is time on hand…

    Great post, Doug. Cheers!


    • Had to laugh at your discussion of the vinyl record collection. I have a similar note on my “to do” list, involving the fast-disappearing VHS technology. I purchased a VHS-data converter and used it to attach a VHS machine to my iMac desktop so that I could convert VHS tapes to movie files. Got about three of them done, with about a zillion left to do, and got sidetracked, as usual.

      And wouldn’t you know it? The VHS machine is still sitting right here, as I type, flashing “12:00”, and humming away quietly, confident that some day I’ll remember it, and take up the cause once again.

      Got your MS email Rick and can’t wait to share a beer or two with you on one of those patio places to talk about this (and I’m guessing a whole host of other things) once the good weather decides to stay.


  6. Nadia Chyme says:

    Hmmm…okay, I’m going to check it out. I wasn’t interested at first, but now…definitely interested! Thanks Wolfie.


  7. wordofabe says:

    My tendency to get sidetracked is quite large, but manifests in different ways than your ADHD “symptoms”. I tend not to get sidetracked as much by the smaller things–ie, going into a room to get something and losing focus by seeing something else–but I get sidetracked by large projects that I end up spending hours or days on.


    • I guess the key question I have to ask (on account of I’m curious as all get out): do most of these large projects get finished Abe?

      I could tell you how many of mine get completed, but then I would have to…….grab another beer and think about it some more, until the next distraction comes along.



      • wordofabe says:

        In fact, many of them do. My system of prioritizing “important” projects calculates on Importance, Necessity, Completion Time, Effort To Be Used, and then dumps all of that if the sun is shining and I want to ride my motorcycle.

        Perhaps this will answer your question: Remember that I told you that I drove through Canada up to Anchorage and pulled back a huge, hulking boat? That was about…4 years ago?

        The boat is still sitting there…I haven’t “gotten to it yet.” But I sure will!


        • There you go! I did remember that boat and remembered thinking: “but what happened to it?” And now I know. *grin*

          I think my need to de-clutter my apartment has a lot to do with that problem with focus. There’s just too much unnecessary stimuli around here. The more simple I make things, the easier it’ll be to retain focus. Just figured that out about twenty seconds ago. Go figure, huh?


  8. Just Me says:

    Oh getting sidetracked can be a frustrating thing if you are waiting for the person being sidetracked. It can also be very funny if you’re the one who’s being sidetracked, haha. I love when my girlfriend will ask me to get her a glass of water or something and I’ll go in the kitchen, fill up the glass, stand there staring at something that’s caught my eye for a minute. Then I’ll walk back into the living room and start drinking the water, sit down on a chair completely oblivious to what she just asked me to do. She’ll just stare at me and I’ll be all “Why do you keep staring at me”, as I drink the water, hahaha. Probably funnier to me then her but still.


    • I think that’s hilarious! *laughing*

      Can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost focus like that, sometimes to similarly unwanted consequences. It’s like you’re always caught up in the immediate moment, and completely oblivious to what happened the moment before.

      There are so many times I’ve lost focus, just after turning the key in my apartment door, and some kind soul has knocked on the door afterward to give me my keys.

      There was a time I brought some frozen groceries home, only to lose focus just before putting them in the freezer. I found them after a good night’s sleep and had to throw them away.

      It just never ends.


  9. Mary says:

    Has anyone ever seen Ellen’s HBO special? One of her segments is on procrastination and how she goes from one thing to the next without completing anything. It is FREAKING hysterical! She hits the nail on the head about how we start something and then are distracted by something else…


    • I haven’t seen that one Mary but I plan to. Thanks for the heads up.

      Sure sounds like she’s got a problem with ADHD, doesn’t it? I’m told it’s the entertainer’s condition, because so many comedians and actors seem to have it. Let’s face it – such flights of imagination lends itself well to creativity. it just does.


  10. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by wolfshades. wolfshades said: TV Gem: […]


  11. Susan says:

    Ok, I’ve been meaning to check this show out but now you’ve definitely peaked my interest! I really need to figure out ADHD. I mean, I guess I don’t have it… but I’ve got plenty enough issues as is, lol.


    • Good that you don’t have it Suze. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone really. But yes – it’s worth knowing about, since there are so many of us attempting to function, next to the “normal” folk out there. *grin* In fact, i’ve just added a link to an excellent blog, written by a comedian/producer guy, who co-hosted an ADHD workship I attended a few weeks ago. The link – on my blogroll – is “Totally ADD”. You’ll find some great stories there, in the forums as well.


  12. 5kidswdisabilities says:

    Yes, I watch this show regularly and this episode was really educational in a very funny way. The dad getting distracted with his ADHD was SO typical.
    Lindsey Petersen


    • You know – this show came as a bit of a surprise to me. I fully expected cliché writing, and a biting ending. Never expected it to be so affirming of families in general.

      By the way – welcome! Don’t know why your comment initially hit the wordpress spam filter. That was weird. :)


  13. veronica says:

    what is the name of the episode? i went on abc to watch it and there’s a lot going on there. a little help? :D


    • It’s called “Starry Night”. Here’s the synopsis: “Claire and Phil take rival approaches to keeping Haley and Luke focused on projects that are due the next day. Manny’s ribbing of Mitchell during a trip with Jay causes tension between the three. Cameron tries to make amends with Gloria for past awkward encounters with a night out in her old neighborhood.”

      Hope this helps! :D


  14. […] Another big example is when we see Phil down to the garage to get something, and an overhead light that was flickering distracted him. Then we see him get up and opened up the light fixture to see what was wrong with the bulb, as he did this he realized he had found his sunglasses that he was looking for.  Then we witness him lose the focus for the flickering light and grab the sunglasses that were on a dangerously high shelf.  Alex and her mom both realize at the same time that this is going on right now and rush to the rescue, to help Phil and to get Luke to work on his project.  If you want more information the link to the blog post is: […]

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s