S02E22: I feel like this week’s episode of Modern Family tried so very hard to be a classic MF episode (one where everything wraps up under a common theme), but the writers had to stretch it just enough beyond believability. While I applaud them for at least attempting it, at the end of the day it couldn’t hold up to the classics. I’m not saying it wasn’t funny, it had some very funny bits, but that heart it searched far and wide for just wasn’t there.
“You’re still blinking sweetie.” – Cam
Let’s take a look at the weakest story this week: Cam and Mitchell. It turns out Cam comes down with something nasty and needs Mitchell to take care of him. The only problem is they had killer Lady Gaga tickets that night and Mitchell really wants to go, but alas he feels guilty! And Cam doesn’t exactly help him not feel guilty! Because a cold is crippling and there’s absolutely no way he’d be able to take care of himself otherwise! But after Cam chugs a whole gallon of NyQuil knock-off or whatever, he’s out like a light and Mitchell sneaks off to the concert.
So why didn’t this work? Well, you took out the main comedic force in the duo! Without Cam there to be as flamboyant as he normally is, Mitchell is left to flounder around. Even though Mitchell is quite funny, they work best when bouncing off each other. And then when we did get a little Cam he basically whined the whole time and no one likes a whiner. However, we did get the shot of Cam carrying a sick Mitchell in a flashback so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
“And I put on the sugar jacket.” – Gloria
The next weakest story this week (actually it was just as weak, but Sofia Vergara managed to save it with that shirt) was Jay and Gloria. Apparently Gloria has a soft spot in her heart for anyone looking for work and her latest recruit is an odd-looking guy with a business pitch for Jay. He begrudgingly listens to the worst pitch of all time for a “Good Dog Bad Doggie” treat system designed to train dogs with good and not-so-good doggie treats. The guy has enthusiasm out the wahoo he just needs a better idea and Jay tells him so. After the fact, Jay somehow winds up with the dog because of course he does. Did you even see those cute puppy ears?
My problem with this story was that it just seemed to pander. Lin-Manuel Miranda guest starred as the doggie treat guy and it was like they dressed him up as the world’s most stereotypical nerd hoping that the costume would do half the character development. Needless to say, it didn’t work. And was there ever really a doubt they would wind up with the dog? But it wasn’t without its laughs; Jay correcting the guy all through out his pitch and Gloria confusing sugar coating for sugar-jacket were great. And Manny’s face at the end when he gets the dog? Fantastic, but it couldn’t save the story.
“Luke, keep your pants on!” – Claire (how has this not been said before?)
Which leaves Phil and Claires story as the strongest story of the week and honestly, it wasn’t that good to begin with. Claire is done being the bad cop and decides that she and Phil are going to switch. She’s going to take Manny and Luke go-karting and Phil has to marshal the girls into cleaning the bathroom. Claire pushes the boys into having more and more fun completely missing the point of it all until Luke vomits in the back seat. Phil goes all drill sergeant on the girls and rightly so. They sneak out without having cleaned the bathroom which causes Phil to chase them down and he forces them to clean everything. He gets a little too power-hungry (he doesn’t even allow the girls to eat) and duct tapes their laptops down. Eventually they come back and realize they don’t like their roles reversed and they swap back.
What worked about this storyline was that even though Phil and Claire swapped roles their underlying traits still showed through. Claire attacked having fun and was completely relentless until Luke vomited. Phil went a little power-hungry, yet he was duct taping their laptops? That’s definitely something Phil would do. So that kept it fairly funny. What really didn’t work was them actually switching. Phil actually shows potential for being a tough dad which really goes against the grain of his character. Claire goes to the classic trope of a hair-brained person attempting to corral everyone into having fun (“ARE WE HAVING FUN YET??” *sharpens butcher knife*). There were definitely funny moments, but we like these characters for who they are. Let’s not switch them up.
So, it wasn’t the best episode ever of Modern Family, but there were still some definite moments of comedic joy to be had. And besides, if they don’t pull a usual sitcom move and get rid of the dog by next week, more of that cute puppy! Yes!