S2E19: One of the pleasant things about Modern Family is its simplicity. The plot is never too convoluted in most part because the characters are so grounded and fleshed out that they are able to take such simple premises and run with them. This week’s "The Music Man" had three really basic plots but they worked oh so perfectly. Each plot actually managed to serve every character and find a way to be both heartwarming and hilarious. That’s not an easy feat to pull off and yet Modern Family made it look like it was nothing.
"Pear, brie, and jambone! My favorite!" -Cam
Let’s go ahead and get the main one out of the way first. Cameron makes his triumphant return to teaching the dramatic arts with Luke and Manny’s school play. As Cam is want to do, his heart is in the right place but he turns it to be mostly about himself. He wanted a grand show with flair but even the kids weren’t having it. And as Mithcell is want to do, he tried to slow down Cam’s enthusiasm although Cam mistook it for not “being in his corner.” Thus Mitchell gets super enthusiastic despite the shipwreck on stage. Eventually (after the play turns into a disaster) Cam sees how supportive Mitchell was through the whole thing and awww it was so sweet.
But it was funny too. While Manny was trying to be smooth with his crush, Luke was unknowingly cock-blocking his step-uncle with his awesome T-Rex arms (never thought I would write that sentence). Karma is a fair player though and Luke winds up getting stuck floating through the air during the production. Cam doesn’t seem to mind until Luke says he could feel his heart beating in his eyeballs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Luke never fails to deliver the best lines. Also we had another perfect example of the trope “If you give a group of kids individual letters to hold up, they will inevitably misspell it into something embarrassing.” The writers didn’t try to stretch the kids too far with this one and their eventual message was fairly inoffensively funny. Fantastic stuff.
"Don’t hit him! He’s got cancer." -Jay
Perhaps the most surprisingly touching story this week was Jay’s. He got a visit from his brother, Donnie, and as brothers are want to do (what is it with me and that phrase this week?) they spend most of the time fighting. Gloria doesn’t understand (of course) and she eventually nags Jay into trying to talk to him. I really wished we could have seen Gloria spout off the names of all her cousins but alas, we’ll just have to live with the four or five we got.
Anyway, Jay learns that his brother has cancer. Jonathan Banks did a fantastic job of brushing it all off as Donnie and it’s always great to see Ed O’Neill show some emotion besides grumpiness. It's such a tender moment when Donnie tells Jay that he knows he cares about him and always has since they were kids when Jay beat up the mook down the street who stole his bike. Brotherly love is a hard thing to capture onscreen and this was the perfect example of how it’s done.
"I guess I’ll be seeing you Wednesdays and every other weekend." -Phil
But the funniest story this week was easily Phil’s new ad for his van. Due to some unfortunate spacing problems, his real estate advertisement became a hooker ad predominantly featuring his wife and eldest daughter. Again, a fairly simple premise for a joke but what sold it was Phil’s attempts at hiding it from her when he realized she hadn’t seen it yet. It was that weird combination of awkward and physical comedy that Ty Burrell has mastered on this show and it was in full force for this story.
Surprisingly though, this plot managed to have a lot of heart to it as well. As Claire tries to persuade Haley on the glories of college she becomes worried that her best years are behind her but when she learns that most of the calls to Phil were soliciting her, she perks up and realizes she still has a few good years ahead of her. You have to hand it to Phil though, he basically made his wife look like a hooker AND STILL managed to make her feel good in the process. Pretty smooth, if I do say so myself. Which I am want to do. (Seriously, what is up with me this week?)