Modern Family creator's new meta sitcom Reboot tackles the modern TV landscape
Modern Family was a flagship of broadcast TV comedy. When the family-friendly sitcom aired its series finale in 2020, it concluded an epic run that won 22 Emmys and consistently grabbed high ratings over the course of its 11 seasons.
But for Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan's next show, he's going meta. Reboot is a new comedy streaming this fall on Hulu, and it focuses on the behind-the-scenes drama of working on TV rather than family life at home. (Check out exclusive first-look photos below.)
"Modern Family was a lot about my home life, and all the writers got their inspiration from their lives at home, and this is very much drawn from all those thousands of hours I'd spend at work," Levitan tells EW in an exclusive interview.
True to its title, Reboot showcases the inner workings of a modern TV reboot. The main characters are actors — played by Keegan-Michael Key, Johnny Knoxville, Judy Greer, and Calum Worthy — who starred together years ago on a sitcom called Step Right Up that is now being revamped by a streaming service. Paul Reiser plays the show's original creator, whose old-fashioned attitude is a bit out of step with contemporary tastes, while Rachel Bloom plays the young writer with a fresh take on the show's new incarnation, and Krista Marie Yu plays the out-of-her-depth executive in charge of overseeing the reboot. Levitan had a few specific inspirations in mind for the show-within-a-show.
"I remember when the whole Roseanne debacle happened," Levitan says. "That show blew up, and I thought to myself, well, that's the show I want to see. I want to see what's going on behind the scenes there."
He continues, "I also thought about Full House because of the way that they went on a streamer and that did so well that the streamer brought it back as Fuller House. So that was a little bit of it. I didn't do this on purpose, but there are even shades of My Two Dads in this, which ironically Paul Reiser was in."
Is it possible for a reboot to create actual art rather than just a nostalgia play? Key's character thinks so — though everyone else still blames him for leaving the original show in the first place. That's what Levitan is interested in exploring with Reboot: a realistic depiction of second chances.
"The one thing that I said to all the writing staff, the set designers, the directors, and everybody else was, 'This is our business. This is what we do,'" Levitan says. "'And so I want this to be accurate. I want other writers and actors who work in this business to watch this show and say, 'That's exactly how it is. That's exactly how that meeting would go. Not a fake TV version of it.'"
Levitan continues: "I like this sort of notion of people getting a second chance in life. That's what I thought to be the most intriguing, that you go off and you do your first thing and it's a hit you and you think that life's going to work out a certain way from that point on. Then life sinks you down a little bit sometimes and it doesn't turn out the way you thought, then you got to come back to where you were. That's a really loaded situation, and I like the idea that these people are getting a second chance and hopefully can do it better this time."
Reboot premieres Sept. 20 on Hulu with two episodes. The rest of the eight episodes will be released on a weekly basis.
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