This week’s episode of Modern Family was a terrible half hour of television that made me feel like I wanted to turn the show off and never turn it back on again.
Just when it seemed like the show might be putting the pieces together and finding a nice balance of traditional sitcom and off beat humor comes this punch in the gut that makes me regret getting my hopes up for the show. I know I can be hard on the show, but I am always hoping the show does well; grasping at the bright spots each episode has. This week there were no bright spots and the lazy, contrived, and uninspired progression of the episode made it painful to watch. Also, didn’t they reference Leap Day’s passing in last week’s episode?
Anyways, I guess we should get into this and I will start with the Dunphy’s storyline. Every Leap Day Phil and Claire like to take Leap Day off, kids out of school and them away from work, and do something fun an exciting with their extra day. This year the event is to go trapezing, Claire’s idea, and everyone couldn’t be more excited. That is, until the dreaded menstrual cycles of all three Dunphy women finally syncs up like Phil has always feared! What follows is a bunch of sexist, easy, and completely unoriginal lines of jokes that made me want to just throw my remote away (realizing I then wouldn’t be able to change the channel is the only thing that stayed my hand). The writers set up a scenario where they could take these characters on any crazy adventure they wanted because they were so gung ho about Leap Day and they decide to lock them in the house and just have the boys cower in fear as the women make over-the-top and stereotypical period references. We are angry, we are loud, we are emotional, and WE ARE ON OUR PERIOD! Give me a freaking break. Then to make things face slappingly worse, when the girls find out what the boys have been saying and treating the situation behind their backs they try to say how offensive it is to do that. Apparently the writers didn’t find it offensive for the first half of the episode when they mined the gag for as many jokes as possible. *sigh*
The other big plot line was Cam’s birthday, which just happens to be on leap day (what a coincidence that two of the families have quirky leap day traditions) and he is secretly hoping Mitchell has something extravagant planned as Cam is finally turning ten. This storyline started off positively, with Mitchell planning a pretty elaborate and cool looking Wizard of Oz themed party for Cam, but quickly derailed itself as they threw contrived roadblock after roadblock in the way. I find it hard to believe Mitchell would have forgotten/missed the correlation between Wizard of Oz and the recent tornado tragedy in Cam’s life, or that Mitchell would miscount his guests under the stress of re-planning the party. These were just two unnecessary roadblocks that produced nothing, but unneeded conflict and one funny bit of Mitchell dancing in the street. I would have much rather seen some shenanigans centered on the Wizard of Oz party than the group get stuck on a stinky dock, oh well.
Gloria and Jay had a one note and dead on arrival plot as they go to watch a soccer game at a bar in the middle of the day, does anybody work on this show?, and Gloria is passive aggressively wishing to Jay that he would have gotten into a fight with someone who gave her trouble. Here is why this doesn’t work; one, Jay is old; two, Gloria has no problem standing up for herself; that is a tantamount aspect of her character actually. This lead to a scene where they completely emasculated Jay where he is cutting his finger on crackers and wearing a robe in the middle of day, when has he ever lounged around the house in a robe?, and it all felt cheap and forced to try and make the guy look old and weak. When the group gets together in the end and Jay steps up to a boat captain before Gloria steps in now completely changing her mind from earlier; another convenient twist. Oh, and Gloria turning and popping the guy when he calls Jay, “Gramps,” was not a surprise in the slightest and proved my earlier point.
The whole period cycle gag tonight was truly terrible and helped this easily become the worst episode of Modern Family to date. The B and C plots weren’t the worst stories in the world, but they were both filled with conservancies that undercut anything positive they had going for them, not that there was a lot there in the first place. I can be hard on the show and it can rub me the wrong way from time to time, but Modern Family has never made me want to turn it off until tonight. If I didn’t have to write this review I would have changed the channel and if another stinker like this rolls out in the next couple weeks I might have to seriously reconsider my investment in this show. Just when I thought things might be going somewhere positive.
-This episode is terribly contrived already, one family has a crazy Leap Day celebration and one has a Leap Birthday in it; ugh.
-Oh, menstrual cycle jokes, all on the same cycle, real original, double ugh.
-If Cam gets mad at Lily for being dressed up as Dorothy instead of him, look out.
-Having your period makes you a monster?
-Why is nobody working on a Wednesday? Or going to school?
-Now Gloria wants her elderly husband to get into fights?
-"We named our daughter after a pig?"
-Oh, and Mitchell just happened to forget about a giant tragedy in Cam's family a month after it happened.
-The daughters are doing a pretty good crazy Claire impression.
-Oh, it's a look how old Jay is bit, robe and all.
-Cutting a finger on cracker was funny though.
-Does the show know how offensive it is to mine half the episode for laughs? You can't have it both ways.
-We'll the one bit I thought was interesting, the Wizard of Oz party, is gone.
-"What did you call me?
-Oh, another problem contrived out of thin air.
-And now Gloria doesn't want Jay to be tough so we can have her punch someone.