KIP MOONEY: I’m going to admit something: Watching Modern Family and reviewing it each week has become like a relationship. And with it seemingly gone every other week, it’s like a long-distance relationship. Even though the honeymoon phase (pretty much all of season 1) is over and it’s been tumultuous ever since, I think this week proves that it’s worth sticking it out.
There are plenty of bad shows out there that I will never watch, but I think the worst type of show is one that wouldn’t affect you if you stopped watching it. Mediocrity and laziness are perhaps the two worst traits in entertainment and Modern Family is neither of those things which is why I’ll keep coming back to it.
Sure, the housewife doing something she always wanted to do but ends up being terrible at bit has been done before (most notably on Everybody Loves Raymond, when Debra took a job at an ad agency only to come up with a frozen pizza mascot named Pete Za) but putting Cam and musical theatre together was too perfect not to work. I mean that in a comedy sense, because Cam was destined for disaster from the first note.
See, he’s now the interim music director at Franklin Middle School where Manny and Luke both attend. There’s a scene early on that was painfully funny and hit close to home. Manny puts on his suavest of moves to impress Emma, only to first be compared to her brother. Then Luke stumbles by doing a T-rex impression, which elicits serious giggles from Emma. “Seriously?” Manny asks in disbelief. Yes, Manny. Unfortunately, it’s serious.
Of course Cam’s genre-hopping musical is doomed for failure, but the getting there was still funny, mainly because there were an abundance of memorable lines. I mean, Manny called Cam “Bob Fussy” for crying out loud! And then Cam said years later the kids would recall how he “Sondheim-ized them.” That’s a line only Cam could get away with.
Cam and Phil both had imminent failure facing them. Phil bought one of those annoying wraps for the family minivan, advertising his realty business using the whole family. Any statement that begins “I can’t be satisfied,” is just asking for trouble. Claire and Haley are mistaken for prostitutes, which was fairly telegraphed but still led up to some great lines. For example, when Haley realizes why people have been honking at her in the passenger seat all day, she shrieks, refusing to get back in the car. “How are you going to get home?” Claire asks. “I don’t care! I’ll go home with anyone!” To which Alex replies, “That’s what it should say on the van.”
I have less to say about Jay’s brother, mainly because it was so understated, which is exactly how it needed to be played. Every scene felt earned, and I’d love to see this actor (Jonathan Banks) pop up again.
Cam: “Why do you have to be such a wet blanket all the time? You throw your wet blanket on my dreams. And you know what I end up with? Wet dreams! [pause] I heard it as soon as I said it.”
Gloria: “More toast, Manny?”
Manny: “Why won’t you call me, Emma?”
Gloria: “More toast, Emma?”
Manny: “Do you have to be on all the time?”
Gloria: “In my country, brothers respect each other!”
Jay: “Which explains why Colombia’s such a peaceful utopia.”
HOWARD MEGDAL: One of the lesser episodes of the season, but still charming.
Cam as a one-note diva throughout the show, excluding the epilogue, is a misuse of his talents, I believe. Let him hit the high notes while using his ability to make big laughs out of little moments the center of his character.
As for Jay and his brother, it felt less like a comic situation and more like a down payment, to make us more invested in Jay. To do this while providing laughs isn’t easy, and should be applauded.
As for the shrink-wrapped center, I think the writers leaned on it too much. By the third act, the sight gag really lost its power for me.
A solid episode, but I don’t see this going in the pantheon. It hardly needs to be said that this would be in the pantheon of any other current show’s efforts, however.