Q: I just saw an ad for the "final season" of "Modern Family," but I thought that ended a while ago? Did I miss something?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Apparently you missed a lot of episodes of "Modern Family."

You can be forgiven for assuming it had ended a while ago -- few series, sitcoms especially, get 11 seasons. But that is all it will get -- "Modern Family's" final season is airing now.

It premiered in 2009 and was immediately named the season's "breakout" hit -- critics and audiences both loved it.

If that weren't enough, critics also credited it with reviving the sitcom as a format. "Modern Family" is the last one standing from a larger group of shows that brought new life, and new ratings, to the format, such as "How I Met Your Mother" (which premiered a few years earlier and ended in 2014) and "The Big Bang Theory" (which premiered in 2007 and ended earlier this year). A lot of buzz went to "Modern Family's" other partners in its Wednesday night comedy block, "Cougar Town" and "The Middle," both of which are already gone (in 2015 and 2018, respectively).

While "Modern Family's" ratings were indeed excellent at the start, they've been declining pretty steadily since, shedding roughly a million viewers per year over the past few seasons. But the interesting thing about this show's longevity is that you can trace industry and social history in those ratings. Some of its viewership loss can be attributed to the shift from traditional broadcast TV to digital streaming and on-demand viewing. The whole TV business was different 10 years ago when we met the three related households that comprise "Modern Family." 


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