KIP MOONEY: I hate to relate a show to Seinfeld two weeks in a row, especially since that series was in a league of its own. But it’s easy to draw much-deserved comparisons between tonight’s episode and the Season 3 classic “The Boyfriend.”
See, Haley’s been making out and studying with her tutor David, so Claire insists her oldest daughter break up with underachieving Dylan. Haley doesn’t think twice about it, texting him the bad news. But nobody takes it harder than Phil.
This was yet another standout episode for Ty Burrell, who should win Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy at the Emmys next year. Who else would so proudly wear what is clearly a girl’s zippered hoodie and not think a thing about it, but then put his Blackberry in his mouth mid-conversation to throw it away once he actually sees a girl wearing it?
Phil consoles Dylan, taking him out for ice cream. But he’s really consoling himself because he’s losing his only cool acquaintance. It’s a sly bit of writing. Most network comedies operate on only one level, but not Modern Family.
Over at Mitch’s place, Cam’s handsy mother is in town. Played by the memorable Celia Weston (who played a more drunk and less loving variation of this character in the obscenely underrated Observe and Report), Mama Tucker is a hoot (“She raised four kids, two barns and a whole lotta hell!” Cam claims). She is constantly groping Mitch: reaching inside his pockets for change, squeezing his caboose during a hug, yet she unconsciously writes it off as Southern hospitality. It all culminates in the most awkward conversation imaginable–and a comedic goldmine.
Finally, Jay is suffering from stomach pain, which the tough-as-nails Gloria wants to write off as him being a baby. This is the woman who popped her shoulder back in socket during a game of ping-pong. Jay enlists Manny to check WebMD to find out what might be ailing him, which anyone who’s been to that website knows that it’s able to convince you that you could have any number of diseases.
Manny suspects diverticulitis–which I can tell you from personal experience is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced–but a trip to the hospital reveals appendicitis. Now Gloria blames herself. (There’s a little bit of Estelle Costanza coming out in her.) Jay definitely liked her better being dismissive than clingy.
After a rocky start, I think this season is shaping up to be nearly as good as its first season, and for that, I am truly thankful.
Cam: “Missouri is a lot more cosmopolitan than you think. It’s got a very vibrant cowboy poetry scene.”
Gloria: “Maybe we could stop by the crib store and you lay down and I buy you a little dress.”
–after Jay complains of stomach pain
Alex: “So dumb guys go for dumb girls and smart guys also go for dumb girls? What do smart girls get?”
Phil: “Cats, mostly.”
HOWARD MEGDAL: Agree with Kip: each of the storylines worked this week.
To me, Phil’s relationship with Dylan has always been a strong one, and exploring it further only mined it for comedy gold. Also, the silent ditching of the sweater was perfectly executed.
This was more impressive Mitchell and Cam this week, though if we go through an entire season with only Cam having outsized reactions, I’m going to be disappointed. It was their ability to balance each other that made for such a strong couple in the first season.
Manny was written extremely well here, and Sofia Vergara is an absolutely brilliant physical comedian. Her self-inflicted shoulder operation was timed perfectly, right on the heels of her BB gun business from the week before. Excellent across the board.
Even the guest star, something that seemed to slow the pace of Modern Family in season one, was seamlessly integrated. Just a fantastic episode by any measure.