When did Modern Family start regularly making tasteless jokes at the expense of Asian people? The writers have always felt just a bit too comfortable making off-color jokes about gay people -- tonight, we got Elizabeth Bank's Sal delivering a quick line about Mitch and Cam's sex life ("Oh, well, this is a mystery solved," when Mitch was on Cam's back) -- but the jokes about bad drivers and serving cats for dinner seem relatively new, no?
"Bad Hair Day" was a lesson in using the Modern Family ensemble well. Rather than feeling like a strained mash-up of characters, there was a flow to the storylines, and when everything fell into place for the Pritchett-Dunphy-Delgado men at the end, the big comedic reveal worked -- maybe not as well as it did in "Fulgencio", but still, not bad. If you ignore the missed opportunity for a Married... With Children reunion between David Faustino and Ed O'Neill and choose to overlook yet another jab at Lily's heritage and the moment when Mitch admitted that he and Cam are walking clichés, then this episode was pretty fun and had a few funny lines:
I've been writing about Modern Family for long enough that I just don't have it in me to keep talking about all of the things that I wish the show would improve upon. "Yard Sale" had that irksome privileged perspective, lack of subtlety and the same repetitive bits of Jay being crotchety/Gloria being fiery and hot, Claire being uptight/Phil being kooky and Cam being sensitive/Mitch being a unlikable jerk that I always talk about. In this episode, even the kids barely had anything to do but read a few lines without making the script feel forced... and I'd argue that a few of them, especially Manny, failed. Fortunately, there were a few salvageable lines that saved "Yard Sale" from being a complete waste:
After some renegotiation snafus, the adult stars of Modern Family are filing suit to void their contracts. While some may think that without Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara and Ed O'Neill, the show could not exist, we find it easy to imagine Modern Family without the primary parents. In fact, there's many different ways to write around their characters:
"Planes, Trains and Cars" didn't have the strongest plotlines, nor did it add much to any character's story arc (unless we get to know this little Olivia who's crushing on Luke), but it was overall an enjoyable episode with a great emotional core. The one issue I really take with it is that Andre (Kevin Hart, making his second Modern Family appearance) is the same character we've seen on all of the failed sitcoms of the past season -- particularly Man Up!. I love the dynamic between Phil and Claire, and adding a character who points out how whipped Phil is while living in fear of his own wife weakens the balance between the Dunphy parents, making it hokey and less realistic. I also just really hate Hart (it all started at the 2011 MTV VMAS) so I'm sure that doesn't help anything. Anyway, let's cartwheel in and take a look at the best lines of the episode.
Truth be told, I thought Claire's campaign was over after this incident, which clearly represents how much I've been invested in the story arcs this season. That's not to say Season 3 has been particularly bad; but on account of the sizeable ensemble, very little ever gets accomplished in the way of plot in Modern Family. Frankly, as long as everyone gets to be funny, Cam and Mitchell don't bicker and our guest star appearances are limited, I'm a happy camper. And as you can probably guess, I enjoyed "Election Day" (which was directed by Bryan Cranston, so I was probably a bit biased going in, given my serious Breaking Bad obsession), especially these moments:
"Egg Drop" wasn't the worst Modern Family venture this season by any means, but it was, for the most part, forgettable. Sure, another plotline where Claire is competitive and Jay is stubborn. That Gloria sure is bad at all things car-related! Isn't Haley a selfish teenager?! And how many times have we seen Mitchell and Cameron out-do themselves only to have it bite both of them by the end of the episode? (I'm honestly sick of complaining about this one -- there's not even character development within their fights anymore. It's not like Claire and Phil have it out every episode.) To break it down a bit further, here's a look at the least successful parts of the episode:
Something I am especially enjoying about Modern Family this season is that we're actually seeing some real character development. This week's episode showcased Jay and Phil's growing relationship, Alex's budding confidence and Claire's newly-found self-awareness really well. It had some of the funniest moments of Season 3 thus far, too. But in spite of these things, "After the Fire" was overall a fairly boring and unmemorable episode. The premise was weak, and it mostly just felt like a mash-up of Modern Family ideas crammed in to one episode. "What would you save from a fire?" is such a conventional trope that there's nothing really interesting to say about it anymore... luckily, there were strong B, C and D plots that moved the story forward and made it watchable. Still, in the spirit of convention, let's look at what every family member claimed they'd grab before fleeing a fire, and what they probably should try to salvage instead.
Can I say how happy I am that Haley wasn't dumbed down past the point of no return last night on "Go Bullfrogs!"? The way Modern Family has been writing for her this season, I was surprised that getting into college would even be a reasonable hope for the eldest Dunphy child. Not only that -- she got along with her dad, wasn't entirely selfish and acted like a typical university-bound teenager instead of the desperate-to-drink party girl she was in Season 1's "Hawaii." Haley wasn't the only character last night who thrived in putting their guard down acting like themselves... and considering how funny the episode was, I'd hope to see more of this pattern in the future. Here's who else kicked it old-school:
In this week's arbitrary Modern Family prizes that I make up just for giggles, I thought it'd be fun to play Dr. Phil (Dunphy, obviously) and write prescriptions for each character for their performance in last night's "Hit and Run." I will do my best not to punch anyone in the face while I do so, but no promises.
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