S02.E06 Halloween, in my opinion, is impervious to commercialization precisely because it is already commercialized. Think about it, Halloween is all about giving in to base emotions. The primary food is candy, we engage in pure hero worship (or just reveal to all how slutty we really are), and we try to scare each other. How can you complain about commercialization when it would simply amplify everything that makes the holiday so great? And what does this have to do with Modern Family? Not really sure, but I thought I’d share.
Anyway, Halloween is a big deal in the Dunphy house. Well, it’s a big deal for Claire, specifically. She goes all out to try and scare the neighborhood kids with her haunted house. She wrangles the whole family and forces them all to participate. Basically, it was the best set up for some amazing television this week.
Claire takes Halloween very seriously. We’re not exactly sure why (until the end) but she really gets into it. This basically causes her to stress out which is the perfect opportunity for some Phil action. While they start off great with an epic prank on Luke (by using Luke’s pranking prowess against himself) things soon fall apart. Phil sees that his neighbor (played by improv funnyman and UCB theater co-founder Matt Besser) is in a deep circle of depression after his wife has left him. He can handle most divorces just as long as they aren’t sudden, but sure enough the neighbor’s wife left him right out of the blue.
This really affected Phil and we got to see a different side of the fun-loving character. It seems that he's aware of how big of a pain in the ass he can be sometimes with Claire and apparently one of his great fears is that Claire will just up and leave him. Phil goes into immediate crisis aversion mode even though there isn’t a crisis yet, which in turn causes Claire to get even more frustrated. His attempts at spontaneity and sexiness (two things his neighbor didn’t do enough of) causes a hilarious train wreck on a ladder.
The Dunphy children weren’t given too much to do this week, but they still brought in some laughs and.... other things. Haley got to show off her body again with a series of risque costumes that gave Claire many great opportunities for one liners. My favorite was the reaction to the sexy cat costume: “You don’t want guys asking you if your tongue is rough.” Haley also brought out her 8 year old Nurse costume (what was she doing with that costume as an 8 year old anyway?) and eventually settled for a sexy Mother Teresa (you know, back when she was hot). Alex was relegated to being stuck in a cage and, as always, has the best lines. Wait, Luke always have the best lines. He was stuck with Manny this week as Frankenstein and his monster. They looked awesome, Manny with his huge forehead and Luke with his awesome moustache.
In the other families we have Cam and Mitch dealing with very different difficulties with the holiday. Cam complains that “Halloween is just another day to get through” for him after apparently suffering a traumatic childhood experience. Mitchell goes through a far worse experience when he shows up to work in full Spider-Man regalia and realizes that no one else goes all-out for Halloween, except for the two office douches. Luckily, as Cam says, “yesterday’s lazy cures today’s crazy”, he reminds Mitchell that he didn’t bring in his suits from the cleaners the day before so he has a spare suit in the trunk. Which would’ve been fine except everything went horribly, horribly wrong for him.
First he gets called into a meeting (yay for seeing Weeds' Justin Kirk!), then another. He tries to change in the bathroom but he dips his pants into the toilet. Then the janitor takes his shirt. He calls Cam in a panic and they have the funniest phone call I’ve seen on television lately. Cam’s answer of “Hot. Who is this?” when Mitchell tells him off the bat he’s trapped in a bathroom in a Spider-Man costume was amazing. Then Cam notices the irony of how Spider-Man would be the one superhero who could save him. Which inspires Mitchell to shimmy down the side of the building (surprisingly without hurting himself) and he makes it to his car. But of course his keys are no where to be found and this causes him to set off all the car alarms - a perfect example of the writers going “What else can go wrong for him?” Absolutely hilarious.
Jay and Gloria finally get into Gloria’s accent when he can’t understand several things she tries to tell him. “I know less now then before I asked” he says when he asks what they’re going to be for Halloween. Apparently Gloria is a little bit sensitive to people mocking her accent. She tries to be cool about it, but when Jay has a few too many examples of her mangling English euphemisms, she brings out the horrible American accent.
All of this comes to a head at Claire’s haunted house. Gloria storms in with her accent and becomes the worst witch possible. Jay starts missing all his cues. Cam won’t shut up about how he hates Halloween and when he starts recounting what traumatized him so bad, it doesn’t help the situation (he peed his pants after some townsfolk made fun of him). After the first trick-or-treater's laugh mockingly at the whole set up (and punch Phil in the crotch) Claire just loses it. She admits that it’s crazy for a grown woman to care about a kid’s holiday so much but after Gloria got to have fireworks at Christmas because its a tradition in Colombia and the gays got to have Thanksgiving because of something they saw on the Food Network, she just wants one holiday to herself. So she storms out of the house. Of course, this is just what Phil was afraid of and he goes running after her to try to solve the situation.
Phil tells her that he doesn’t want her to leave him and she says that she could never leave him, not after the craziness she just displayed. They’re stuck with each other for better or worse. And thus, everyone learned their lesson and they pulled off a great Halloween with kids screaming out their door. Of course Phil gets scared by the pop up skeleton again but its all good.
Also, we learned that Claire sleep-punches Phil sometimes. Oh domestic abuse, always hilarious.