‘Modern Family’ Recap: Strangers On A Treadmill

Luke DunphyS02E04: We got another basic Modern Family episode last night. And I think there is nothing wrong with that. The episode was hilarious and if someone needed an example of what this show was about and wanted to know if it were funny or not, this is the perfect example. It had everything: Cam getting his feelings hurt, Claire being embarrassed by Phil, and Gloria trying to get Jay to connect with her people. We’ve seen this all before, but it was hilarious as always so it gets a pass. But that’s not what I want to talk about. But I have to recap it first so let’s get that out of the way first.

Mitchell and Claire are in similar boats. They both want to tell their partners something but their partners are so sensitive about the subject that they chicken out. So Mitchell and Claire get the other to do their dirty work for them. Claire gets to tell Cam that he shouldn’t wear bike shorts (which he has taken to wearing constantly with his new desire to exercise) and Mitchell gets to tell Phil that he isn’t funny (as he prepares to be the emcee at SCARB [Southern California Annual Relators Banquet {but you knew that already}]). Claire and Mitchell both chicken out so it leaves them to deal with their own messes.

Mitchell confronts Cam about the biker shorts after a few tantrums from Cam. And I don’t like to cry at other people’s misfortunes (slightly not true) but Cam’s cries from the bedroom where absolutely hysterical. Cam fires back that he doesn’t like Mitchell’s beard which prompts Mitchell to almost shave it off. Cam stops his almost in time (Mitchell gets a notch cut off before Cam steps in) and they make up in the uber sugary lovey dovey way they always do. Ugh. Romance.

It should also be noted that Eric Stonestreet absolutely killed it with two bits this episode. The first was when Mitchell gave him the wrong look when he picked up an apple and then silently dumped the whole tray on the floor. That look of pure “screw you” was perfect. The second bit was when he told Mitchell to tell Claire to stick to what she does best, “overcook salmon.” That delivery was spot on. But also in Claire’s defense, salmon is a really hard fish to cook; it’s so fickle. But we all knew that.

Claire still tries to save Phil by stealing his cards from his pockets. Phil gets nervous, much like the Jonas brothers (even Kevin, who you think would be a rock, but especially Kevin) and tries to play the straight man. But Phil Dunphy is no straight man and before too long the whole room is in stitches. I want Phil to emcee every event I’m at from now on. And I don’t mean Ty Burrell, I mean the character Phil. Phil is awesome. What do you mean imaginary? You just made that word up.

The Jay and Gloria story was rather weak. Gloria chastises Jay about not doing something else Columbian/Hispanic/Not White and Jay eventually gives in and goes to this party. He pretends to know everyone there even though it turns out they weren’t even in the right party. Rather slow and cumbersome when the other stories were so fun. Manny saved the day, of course. He frees up some space on the DVR by watching the two hour Antique Road Show and pops out to chastise Jay at sporadic moments. Unfortunately he wasn’t used as much at the dance which really brought the whole thing down.

But now we finally get to what I wanted to talk about. The Dunphy children. I don’t know of any other fictional children that are more perfect and funny. Three things from this episode really stood out for me in this episode. The first was with Alex and Haley’s story. Haley tries to teach Alex the ways of the popular and Alex catches on fast. When she puts the new cool girl McKenzy (also can we get a more 00’s name?) in her place, it almost brings Haley to tears when she realizes “I have a sister.” So funny. But when Alex gets ahead of herself and ruins everything and the whole plan completely dissolves into chaos, the only thing they can do is throw the phone on the floor and scream. It was simple. It was pure. It was hilarious.

Then there was Luke. Oh Luke, you poor, innocent, little child. You are so dumb, my lord you are so funny. His troubling news about the Jonas Brothers to his dad? Spot on. The way he laughs at everything? I can’t stand it. It’s like he doesn’t even get it, he just laughs. Come to think of it, I used to laugh at everything when I was a kid just to make my parents think I got the jokes. But I’m not an idiot. Luke is though. Is there potential for Luke to wisen up? I sure hope not. Then we might not get pure absolute comedy diamonds like his line “those guys…” Those two words sent me in to such fits of laughter I had to pause the television (ok, not really, but I did rewind it to see if I missed something). I don’t know how he got that delivery down, but if I had a .gif of him saying that I wouldn’t stop. It was that funny.

So yes, it was a great episode. Very solid, very funny. Hopefully they won’t wear this formula out and let it get stale. They’ll need to shake things up if they want it keep being one of the funniest shows on television, but for the moment I’m perfectly content.