Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 12 — “Party Crasher”

KIP MOONEY: I would have expected a show like Modern Family to really draw out a big moment like the birth of another baby. Or to hold it until February sweeps. But this episode was full of surprises. From Manny’s first kiss to Jay’s girlish screams in the delivery room, there were all kinds of twists and turns.

Much like this week’s Happy Endings, this was an episode–as a review from the A.V. Club noticed–where you realize that many of the characters are not great people. They could only be tolerated by members of their own group. But that’s often a hallmark of a great ensemble comedy. (Cheers, Seinfeld and Community come to mind.) Case in point: Instead of waiting in line at the bakery for Manny’s cake, Jay and Gloria steal the cake from a young mother. Poor social skills, or even a blatant disregard for treating other human beings with respect, is no way to live your life. Yet it often makes for great comedy.

Even with hilarious running gags like Lily constantly getting injured (again, children getting hurt is not funny in real life), the show still managed to slip in an unexpectedly tender moment. See, Haley has been seeing her older co-worker (played to sleazy perfection by The League‘s Jason Mantzoukas, bearing a strong resemblance to sleazy older guy my sister dated in high school), which Phil doesn’t mind until he starts seeing him touch her. (As with Dylan, Phil is blinded by coolness.) Prompted by Claire–who recognizes a similar phase from her early adulthood–Phil gives Haley her credit card for dinner and a night at a hotel. Of course, he runs after her when she doesn’t immediately call his bluff, intent on kicking the guy’s ass (if only he had given his arms another great nickname like “Captain and Tennille”). But Haley does return, just in time to hear Phil say that “No guy is good enough for her,” let alone a creeper like this guy.

This episode would have been essentially perfect. But of course the episode with voiceover from Jay that started–I kid you not–with “There are lots of milestones in life.”  That horribly cliché segment aside, this episode had it all. Given its callbacks to other big events, it even could have served as a finale of sorts. Thankfully the show has been regularly terrific this season, so I’m glad it’s not over yet.

Mitch to Cam, about Lily: “Here’s where I point out that she’s five, and not a character from Dynasty.”

Lily: “It’s OK. I ate at the emergency room.”

Claire: “And what older guy wouldn’t want a young, newly legal girl?”
Phil: “I wouldn’t!”
Claire: “Really? Hermione Granger.”
Phil: [pause] “I’m just a Harry Potter fan! Yes, she’s matured into a lovely young lady and LUKE, I’M NEVER TELLING YOU ANYTHING!”

About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney is a recent graduate of UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism and big-time opponent of going to grad school. Working as a freelance writer in the DFW area, he's always ready to go in-depth with his opinions on film, television, music, religion and the sorry state of politics in America. He continues to work independently, as each of his non-college jobs has resulted in the company experiencing serious financial troubles once he leaves, including Blockbuster and the trashy restaurant D's Country Kitchen. (The lesson here is hire him, but don't let him leave.) His literary heroes include Roger Ebert, Donald Miller and Matt Taibbi. Kip has written for The Dallas Morning News and Pegasus News and served as editor-in-chief for the North Texas Daily, but he is perhaps best known as the inspiration for Christian Lander's well-known blog Stuff White People Like.
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