Modern Family – Episode 1-17 Review

Let me start by saying, Modern Family is arguably the best new show of the season. The writing is tight, clever, witty, and has a lot of heart (and not in a movie of the week sort of way). It is because the show is so consistently sharp, when an episode is a little uneven, it sticks out. This is the case with “Truth Be Told.”  It was a funny episode and had some great moments, but it stumbled a little along the way.

Mitchell and Cameron

Mitchell and Cam usually provide the most laughs in an episode, but this week the humor was sacrificed a bit for some character development. Cam is the stay-at-home dad, the good cop, the fun one. Mitchell is the bread winner and disciplinarian – to both Lily and Cam. It all comes to a head for Mitchell when a Saturday at the park to feed ducks with Lily is interrupted by a call to go into work.  It gets worse when Mitchell’s boss possibly hears him talking crap while they were both stopped at the same stop light. Later, Mitchell’s boss orders him to come into work on Sunday as well. The final straw, Mitchell gets a picture message of Lily standing for the first time. Upset that he misses all of Lily’s milestones and frustrated with the day’s events, Mitchell quits his job. It’s going to be interesting to see how their life goes with no income, but it was sweet seeing Cam being so supportive of Mitchell’s needs and desire to be a more active father.

Jay and Gloria

Upset that he did not get the lead in a school play, Jay tries to cheer Manny up by hanging a motivational poster in his room. This does not go so well and the poster crashes into Manny’s turtle tank and kills Shel Turtlestein. Having accidently killed Mitchell’s childhood bird, Flyza Minelli (gotta love these pet names), and being hated for it, Jay decides to fake a raccoon crime screen. While Gloria sees through Jay’s charade, Manny buys it – but he is confused why a nocturnal animal would eat his turtle during the day. Jay tries to take Manny mind off it by having a memorial, but Manny ends up blaming himself for leaving potato chips in his room attracting the raccoon. Jay’s guilt prevents him from sleeping, so he goes to fess up.  But Manny’s waiting for him in the dark – like a James bond villain. This came off a bit gimmicky, but lead to a touching scene where Jay talks about how their relationship has grown and improved since the beginning of the season. It was a great little bonding moment for the two.

Phil and Claire

Here is where the episode fell apart a bit. While the Dunphy storyline provided the most laughs, the story was a little choppy and uneven.  Phil reunites with his ex-girlfriend, Denise (played by Judy Greer), through Facebook and Claire suspect she has some ulterior motives.  To keep an eye on things, Claire has Phil invite her over for their reunion. At first, she comes off sweet and innocent enough – although she was a bit over complimentary to Luke, which plays into a trick Alex was playing on Luke that Denise is his biological mother. It came off a bit forced and only served to pay off the joke. Soon, Denise is all over Phil and gets off trying to make out with him while his family is nearby.  Realizing that Phil’s Facebook relationship was not sexual, Denise leaves – but not before Claire realizes that they both dated Phil at the same time.  The storyline ended pretty abruptly without any real resolution, but it’s safe to assume the family will go on like usual.

All in all, “Truth Be Told” was an entertaining episode. It is a testament to the high bar Modern Family has set for itself that a little unevenness, which would go unnoticed on most other shows, sticks out here. Also worth noting, most episodes are standalone with no real connective threads, but with Mitchell quitting his job, it moves his storyline forward and creates a new story arc.  “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

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