I figure since Modern Family wins every award possible -- looking at you, Emmys -- why not make a weekly Modern Family Awards? The only thing this show ever competes against is itself anyways (see: Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress categories), so let's keep the tradition going. Tonight's episode "Phil on Wire" suffered from the constriction of having to have a plot for every single character in the ensemble, as Modern Family is wont to do, but it had its moments. Here are the winners.
Best Returning Character
As much as I like Charlie Bingham (Justin Kirk) and teared up to his heart-wrenching story about Snorkels, I've got to give this to little Stella, Jay's adorable puppy who we met last season. Call me a total sucker, I will forever enjoy seeing Jay frolic with dogs, be them real or life-size butler statues. Miss you, Barkley.
Most Accurate Portrayal of Real Life
Modern Family does this well, and "Phil on Wire" had several plot lines I've lived through or experienced second-hand in some capacity -- dad suddenly dedicated to a wacky hobby, incidents with laughable authority figures, dedication to new diets, siblings in the same math class, jealousy over a new pet -- they're all based in reality. Since I absolutely must choose a winner, I'm going to give it to the beginning of Mitchell and Cameron's juice fast. I don't love that they have the same bickering dynamic every week, but in terms of reality, I think the writers nailed the tried-and-true battle: Cleaning out the cupboards, declaring all food evil, the moment where you decide you don't need to ever eat again... the next time Steven Levitan picks up an Emmy, I'm sure we'll hear some TMI account of a time he called his wife a temptress in a bad way.
Best Misadventure with Food
That being said, there was a clear winner as far as actual food-related gags go. And sorry, sugar-high Luke and seven-time-school-puking Phil, I'm giving this one to when Manny ate a dog treat cupcake off-camera. How much does it say about Manny so far this season that my favorite antic of his wasn't even seen? He was fine in this episode, but I know he's got more in him. It was a fun callback at the end to see Cam and Mitch make the same mistake, but I preferred it as a thrown in one-liner.
Best Line from a Child
"Who texts during class?" - Alex Dunphy, only made better by Haley's reaction face.
Least Interesting Subplot
I could barely pay attention to anything Gloria did. Sure, I like the concept that she only ever gets jealous of Jay when a dog is involved, but it wasn't fake-award-blog-post level good, you know? I wasn't crazy about Phil's Man on Wire obsession, but he redeemed himself by pulling those dopey wire-walkers out of his briefcase and later succeeding in schooling the Dunphy women about the meaning of life.
Best Stage of Fasting
Stage Three: Soap Actress.
Character Who Made the Most of Acting Out-of-Character
I always enjoy it when Claire gets to be funny, right and not entirely evil, but Mitchell crying over Snorkels and then running into the ocean was pretty great. I noticed that when Cam saved him and they embraced, they missed a perfectly opportune moment to kiss, but I'm not touching that with a ten-foot paddle.
Best Callback from Season 2
In retrospect, I may have been too hard on "Strangers on a Treadmill" the first time I watched it, because Cam's blurred out biker shorts still have me laughing out loud. I think you look great, buddy.
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