KIP MOONEY: By confining the families to one location, Modern Family exponentially increases its success of having multiple stories gel. My most frequent complaint is that Modern Family always feels like every character has to be involved in some way, lest a cast member get jealous or a fan ask, “What happened to that person?” because our attention spans are so small now.
But placing everyone in the skating rink, having a blast with Mitch’s ex, was the source of endless comedy gold that all felt conducive to the larger narrative, even as Alex gets a flirting lesson or Claire rejects her father’s job offer.
The gang’s all here for a fundraiser thrown by Teddy, Mitch’s frighteningly perfect ex-boyfriend, “The Big One Before Cam.” We all have that ex, the one responsible for the tough break-up before the love of our lives came along. But I doubt many of them are still friends, especially not to the point where the whole family still hangs out. But it’s impossible not to love Teddy, who’s uncommonly kind, smart and handsome. Of course, this brings out the dormant prima donna in Cam, who asks by not asking Mitch to have the whole family break up with Teddy.
Our big emotional scene comes courtesy of Jay, whose heart-to-heart scenes always tend to care a little more heft. I think that’s because, like our parents or grandparents, it’s probably hardest for him to show true emotion. When he tells Cam that it’s Teddy who could never compete with him, that it’s Teddy who never made Mitch smile, it’s incredibly touching.
Yet what I enjoyed the most about this episode was how weird it got, with the creepy concession stand worker trying to make a move on Claire, or Phil giddily skating with his pants around his ankles. It’s those little moments that show this show will never stay on cruise control, even if it puts it on for an episode or two.
Manny: “I’m worried about you drinking wine while babysitting my little brother.”
Claire: “Well, it was from an open bottle in your fridge.”
Manny: “It’s about judgment. This isn’t the ’70s, Claire.”
Phil, excited for the limbo: “How low can you go?”
Haley: “I’m at a roller rink with my family on a Saturday night. I win.”
Cam: “I worked my fingers to the bone to get these jumpy Protestants to like me.”