Is This ‘Modern Family’ Reunion the Most Cynical Cash Grab Yet?

In the moment, it all seemed like a big joke. Just a few months ago, all the senior members of the Modern Family cast — Ed O’NeillSofia VergaraJulie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet — reunited at the SAG Awards to joke about post-sitcom life. 

“I just sometimes get a little nostalgic for the golden days,” lamented Ferguson before offering the rationalization that life after a hit show can be pretty sweet as well.

O’Neill dumped a bucket of ice water on Ferguson’s wishful thinking. “Who are we kidding?” he asked. “I didn’t want to get emotional up here, but you know what I miss about it most of all? The money.”

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Turns out, the bit wasn’t such a joke. Based on a pair of dumb new commercials, those Modern Family stars do miss each other. And by each other, I mean “the money.”

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Burrell, Bowen, Stonestreet and Ferguson are back on their familiar set, lamenting the fact that their television children want nothing to do with them. (Considering that none of the younger cast members appear in the commercials, life might be imitating art.) The solution: WhatsApp, the global messaging software that decided the best way to win American market share was by hiring 2010’s most popular sitcom actors.

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Notably missing in the new spots are O’Neill and Vergara, who not coincidentally are coming off high-profile projects (Clipped and Griselda, respectively). When you’re actually getting paid, it seems, reunion commercials aren’t quite as appealing. 

It’s easy (and fun!) to throw metaphorical rocks at moronic sitcom reboots like Fuller HouseThe Conners and Frasier — don’t these aging stars have anything better to do than relive their oldest jokes? It’s like one-hit wonder bands blowing into town to play the county fair. We’re curious, sure, but watching entertainers trying to recapture the glory days usually feels more sad than satisfying. 

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But at least those sitcom reboots are attempting to create comedy while their stars chase one last paycheck. Gathering the old gang to promote an app most famous for security issues and senior-citizen scams? It’s a straight-up cash grab, pure and simple, and even Modern Family’s most nostalgic fans are unlikely to appreciate the lame series of TV spots. 

Sarah Hyland recently told PEOPLE that she’d be down for a Modern Family reunion, with the caveat that she’d “want to see a script first.” The potential plots for a WhatsApp reboot are endless: Haley gets catfished, Haley falls for a charity scam, Haley clicks on a link that makes her phone start to smoke. 

On second thought, maybe Hyland could reapply for her old job on Love Island USA. At least that way, she could hold on to her artistic integrity.