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The Telefile
<i>Modern Family</i>: Five Surprising Things about the Season 4 Premiere

After sweeping the Emmys yet again, Modern Family is back for a fourth season. Are you excited? I'm on the fence -- I generally like to root for underdogs, and with the relentless praise the show gets, it's much easier for me to see all of the flaws in this show. On the other hand, last night's premiere made me laugh a handful of times, and by the end totally had me crying... which isn't saying much, given that I'm a huge crybaby, but still.

"Bringing Up the Baby" took a while to get into its groove, for sure. The go-to gags that Modern Family usually relies on weren't working at all, while the new material seemed to be the most promising. There's a few reasons why I'm torn about this setting the tone for the rest of the season -- these five surprising things about the episode:

Jay's Excitement about the Pregnancy
The best shocker of the premiere was the fact that Jay isn't going to be angry or even grumpy about Gloria's pregnancy. I'm all for this concept, because it gives me hope that we'll see a new dynamic between Jay and Gloria this season... or at least, less episodes where Gloria screams, "Ai, Jay!" every time her husband is in a bad mood. I'm looking forward to seeing the side of Jay that makes him so loveable -- and truth be told, if I had to spend all of my time around terrible line-reader Manny, I'd be up for a change of pace, too. It also sets Ed O'Neill up to finally win an Emmy next year.

Ty Burrell Missed His Marks
It's kind of shocking that an episode can be good when Burrell isn't. The Phil jokes felt tired and nowhere near funny or strange enough -- I get that his father-in-law makes him nervous, but an awkward punch in the face and a new beard isn't going to cut it. I think a huge reason I didn't enjoy Phil last night was because the Shorty being effeminate jokes were tired and lame. Gags about a man who isn't gay acting stereotypically gay isn't really my brand of humor, I guess.

Haley and Claire's Relationship
My favorite moments last night were definitely between Haley and Claire, and the whole "Do we really have to do this?" bit. Dylan balances them out nicely, but really, it seems like with the mother-daughter relationship, Modern Family is finally dipping its toe into actual character development. The best moment of the episode was when Claire revealed that her weird hangover concoction was purely created to make Haley suffer. That and her impulsive "Gloria's gonna get fat!" cheers.

They're Still Letting Lily Act
So is the show trying to make Mitchell and Cam miserable? That's the theme this season? I really hope that in an episode or two, somehow Modern Family will pull a baby out of thin air to give to them -- it'll allow for something other than bickering, and it'll take the spotlight away from Lily, who I totally hate these days. (Though I did like the Larry gag, solely for: "What's this about? Is Larry on a show?" "It's not... which is what's weird.") You know you've got a bad child actor when a stuffed elephant and gorilla were significantly funnier than her -- and frankly, I thought the kitten was cuter, too.

The Time-Jump
That leap forward definitely caught me off-guard, in a good way. It was sweet, and a smart move for pushing the plot along from the get-go. What I liked most is that everyone got a turn to do a little shtick (Mitchell's being "acting like an unlikable jerk," natch) -- the winner of the evening, of course, being Haley, whose fake baby bump gave me a little bit of a heart attack.

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