S02E15: Here's another stellar episode of Modern Family. Seriously, this episode had it all: a tight, intertwined story line; a loaded Gloria; appendages that smell like cheese and best of all - FIZBO!
"It is amazing the freaks we used to date." - Mitchell
Attempting to break down the episode based on each family is fairly pointless considering how woven together each story is. By the time the episode ended everyone was at Lily’s party, which is as good a place as any to start so let’s start with her parents. Cam and Mitchell are throwing a party for Lily (a princess party) complete with a real, live princess. Of course Cam, being the showman he is, tries to insert himself (or rather, Fizbo) into the party. Mitchell objects, rightly so this time, but we nevertheless get a fantastic performance from Fizbo.
"Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep" - Gloria
The Jay and Gloria had two things going on this week, one of which paid off well at the end, the other not so much. Their present for Lily is a recordable children’s book that they dictate a story into. Jay thinks its a bad idea considering the answering machine fiasco and then we cut back to a really unnecessarily long flashback of them trying to record their message. It comes back up in the coda when Cam and Mitchell listen to it and find their recording goes a little off script.
Afterward, when Gloria learns that Jay’s ex will be there (the lovely Shelley Long), she attempts to back out of it. Jay is fine with that, he wants to avoid the awkwardness. But his plan backfires and it turns out she wants to go. Drats, reverse psychology worked too well and reversed on himself. But, she wasn’t completely sure of herself so she got a little chemical boost by way of a Xanax and a shot of tequila. If that isn’t a recipe for truth serum, I don’t know what is.
"Psycho" - Haley
"Scary" - Luke
"Drunk" - Alex
But what’s the big fuss about? Claire’s mom returns for Lily’s birthday which has caused all kinds of stress. Luke attempts to dissolve the situation with some cuteness, but alas, even poor Luke can’t do what a good bottle of wine can. But that’s not the only surprise Dede has in store. She’s brought along Claire’s high school boyfriend (Matt Dillon!) for the ride and forgot to mention that Claire is married. And has three kids. Awkward moments abound and eventually Phil and Robbie get in a measuring contest (though not the proverbial kind, just seeing who is taller).
For the first time in a very long time, this guest star took me by surprise. I hadn’t seen any sort of news that Matt Dillon would be in this episode, let alone play Claire’s ex. The thought occurred to me, “Well this is interesting, I’m experiencing the same reaction that people who aren’t obsessive about television are having - namely being shocked at the guest star. This is cool, by not knowing who is about to come through the door I’m able to keep myself tuned into the show and wait, what just happened? Aww damn, my internal monologue distracted me from the show.” I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter what, a guest star is going to distract you from the show whether you know about it or not. But knowing ahead of time keeps you a little more in the game. So no more bitching about spoilers! The island is a cork!
Eventually Claire gets fed up and kicks Robbie and Dede out of the house. I knew something was up, the resolution of the scene felt off. There had to be something else, and sure enough - BOOM. Dede and Robbie were making out beside the limo. AWKWARD.
"No my god." - Mitchell
Anyway, everything comes to head at Lily’s party. Cam is bothered by the princess encroaching on his territory, Gloria is high off her ass, and everyone else thinks Dede is acting out to spite them. At first Mitchell doesn’t want there to be a huge scene at his daughter’s birthday party, but after learning about his mom making out with his sister’s ex high school boyfriend, he allows it. Eventually she leaves, but Robbie stays behind. Jay then steps up and has to intimidate him to leave again. Matt Dillon might be a badass (ha), but he’s no Ed O’Neill. Hell, I’d be cowering too.
The stories almost close peacefully with Dede admitting to Jay she didn’t want to be seen as the crazy grandma and that she left for a good reason. It’s about to be over when Dede snaps and admits she has a problem with Gloria. Well, she admits that right as she tackles Gloria to the ground. And of course Phil jumps in, eager to assist, but really to get handle Gloria. Atta boy Phil. Atta boy.
"No more polite lols for you!" - Phil
Two final things that really stuck out for me in this episode. The first was the casual mention by Gloria that Haley would have multiple weddings. It was such a subtle dig and delivered so nonchalantly that I almost missed it at first. That’s great writing and great acting that such a terrific joke can be almost hidden at first only to be discovered later down the line. The second thing was that apparently all of Claire’s boyfriends have a thing for her mom. Robbie obviously was into Dede, but even Phil is obviously enamored with Gloria. It’s a subtle thing, probably not even intentional, but its still a funny pattern for Claire. Gotta love it.
Sidenote: After this episode I stuck around for Mr. Sunshine, Matthew Perry’s new show. It’s basically nothing more than a cheap Better Off Ted ripoff with some 30 Rock thrown in for good measure. Pretty boring, if you found it even remotely amusing I recommend checking out Better Off Ted, its the same basic premise but funnier. And better. And that’s not because Andrea Anders is in both, but because BOT is just better written, acted, and produced.