S2E24: Nice try, Modern Family. No, sincerely, nice try. I see what you tried to do with this season finale but yeah, I'm not feeling it. Especially after last week’s really stellar episode (an investigation of the production codes shows it was supposed to be the finale before being switched with this week’s) this week just felt... off? I get that they wanted to end on Cam and Mitchell’s big decision and that they seem to want to end each season on Jay’s birthday but it just wasn’t there for me.
"You know what? I'm acting like a jerk. What am I? Twelve?" - Jay
"Hey..." - Luke
Part of the problem is Jay’s story this week. When he was a teenager he once spent the afternoon of his birthday sitting on the lake fishing, so he wanted to recreate that while his family throws him a huge celebration that night. It's simple enough, but in the process of setting up the party he keeps getting called back in by the family, thus ruining his plans. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Ed O’Neill’s acting in this episode (seriously, Emmy nomination please), but the whole idea of an old dude not being able to fish like he wants to because his family is incompetent just doesn’t work for me. And while it would’ve been a hell of a lot worse had they gone bigger, the subtlety undercut any real humor. However, I will say this: when Manny brought the boat into the pool, that initial moment almost saved it for me. The only problem was it kept going and yeah, fell right back down.
Then there was the whole Mitchell and Cam deciding to have another kid because Cam really enjoyed bonding over manly things with Manny. Look, no one finds being mistaken for a pedophile creep funnier than me but again, this whole story failed. Manny and Cam is a very interesting dynamic relationship; you have a very flamboyant gay man who happens to be proficient in “masculine” activities teaching a very “feminine” heterosexual kid. That’s really interesting. Throw in how Jay is always trying to teach Manny about that stuff and you have a relationship that hasn’t been seen on TV before. But adding another baby? Snore.
Meanwhile, Claire and Mitchell try to recreate a picture from their childhood by sneaking into their childhood backyard. This was probably my favorite story of the episode. Besides their relationship with their father, Claire and Mitchell have the oldest relationship on the show and they have the furthest to go to express their true feelings. Adult sibling dynamics are always fun to play with especially when you start getting inheritance involved. Throw in some potentially developing stories about Manny getting a third of the chunk and it becomes the only real plot line that could ripen into something interesting next season. Also, it’s just really funny when adults get drunk around their parents and revert back to being a kid.
"Where'd you get a sailor suit on short notice?" - Claire
"Fair enough." - Mitchell
Phil gets paired with Gloria this week, much to his chagrin. Because Cam couldn’t handle Lily that morning (setting up the contrast to him wanting another kid at the end), Gloria is taking her to the mall. But when they run into Phil, people start thinking they’re a couple. This really works to Phil’s advantage when he runs into his college rival, played by Rob Huebel. Man, there were so many complaints about this story that I really shouldn’t have had considering how awesome Phil and Gloria are together. First, it was painfully obvious that of course Huebel would consider Claire to be a better catch and Phil would feel guilty. Been there, done that. Second, maybe it is just me but I've had a little too much Huebel in guest spots. Last week, he was on Happy Endings and it seems like he has to have a guest spot on every great show. That’s a silly little complaint, I realize, but still. Finally, it couldn’t even be saved by Gloria’s dresses and bounciness. Now THAT is saying something.
But the most disappointing story of the week was Luke’s. It pains me to say that, but it was true. The set-up was there, but the pay off just failed miserably. Alex and Haley promised to make a video of everyone in the family saying how much they loved Jay. It was a really sweet idea and it sort of gave us a clip show as we went through some behind-the-scenes moments from the season. But they didn’t have enough and Luke says he can do some creative editing. He works his magic and the outcome is a very short, jumpy little video. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I just hoped it would be, I’m not even sure, bigger? Funnier? Worse? But then again, maybe that feeling is the feeling I’m supposed to have, much like everyone else in the family. That could be the case. All I know is that I was hoping for something a little more from Luke editing a video.
So, that was the second season of Modern Family. I don’t think anyone can say it was as good or better than the stellar first season but it wasn’t completely horrible either. The cast honed in on their characters perfectly and the writing can still be great. They just need to work on their consistency a little bit. Of course, this isn’t anything worth jumping ship for and I’m still really excited for next season; I've just got a few little wishes I wish the producers would hear. I guess this is it for the year. See you next fall folks. Play us off sexy phone!