Modern Family returns from a long hiatus and has a couple hits with a lot more misses before pulling off a pretty sweet and honest ending.
The show has been threading a plot line in and out of the season surrounding Claire running for a city council position. This week, that plot finally came to an end, and it is a failure on almost every front. Everyone has a role to play in getting Claire elected; Phil is to round up the senior citizens and get at least 50 votes from them, Cam and Mitchell are running around with a PA system trying to get people out to vote, Alex is running a call center occupied by the kids and Gloria, and Jay just has to vote. Obviously none of these goes exactly as planned and the roadblocks that pop up bring comedy to varying effect.
Jay’s through line brought the most laughs for me this week as it was the sharpest written and had, by far, the most successful jokes. When Jay and Gloria go off to vote, Jay gets cold feet for some reason and we come to learn that an old flame is manning the polling place. Jay left her alone in the morning after they consummated things and never called her back. The scenes have some good one liners, Manny landing my favorite as he works Jay over, and the sexual innuendo at the polling place was pretty well done as well.
What started off on the right foot with Cam and Mitchell quickly turned rather bland and counter intuitive to the shows goals. The pair got a PA system to strap to their car and begin riding around town promoting the vote for Claire. The pair starts off by making a lot of clever “Claire” puns and then become an authoritative neighborhood watch, correcting crimes (like jaywalking and littering). The use of the PA quickly turns far more sinister as they start harassing everyone they don’t like around town, and they get in even further trouble when they leave the PA on as they gossip about an acquaintance they see on the street. It’s here that the plot line really took a turn for the worse as the show embraces an endless stream of gay stereotypes that I feel the show is trying to break down. Maybe I am wrong and this is common place and I had just missed it before, but it really stuck out like a sore thumb this week.
Phil is supposed to be getting the old vote out, but he gets hung up by his neighbor with a multitude of problems. We've met Mr. Kleezak, but his laundry list of problems (glasses, new oxygen tank, need of pills, and loss of memory) come flying out of nowhere and if the character truly is this helpless and lost mentally then he probably should have dropped dead in his house a long time ago. The problems are clearly just contrived for the sake of creating obstacles and go against everything we have known about the character up until this point.
The contrivances don’t stop there though, as Claire magically has a false tooth and of course it causes a ton of problems on her big day. First it pops out after simply biting at a piece of plastic holding a price tag on her shirt and then she somehow gets it fixed, then gets it knocked out again by a mic at her radio interview. How does something so loose not pop up in three seasons prior of the show? The obvious need to create drama in this story ruined any comedy that could of came from it; luckily they went with the whistle voice gag that has been played out to death so I didn’t have to worry much about laughing, anyway.
The Claire stuff started off horribly, but it came together very nicely at the end when it intersected with Haley’s college admission struggles. Having been avoiding telling her parents about all the rejection letters that have been coming in, her final hope has arrived and she has been hesitant to open the letter. After the inevitable news of Claire’s loss I found it comforting that the show didn’t force a sugar-coated ending on the episode by having Haley miraculously get accepted; instead ending up on the waiting list. The moment was a wonderful mother/daughter piece of drama, one that was full of poignancy that the show has been lacking this whole season. I really will hand it to the show for going out on a limb and having both of the ladies fail at their pursuits; I didn’t think they had it in them.
It was nice to see the episode end on such a strong note, but it was quite the bumpy road to get there. Lazy contrivances and clichéd stereotypes really hurt the episode and it was barely made up for by the fine ending. I am glad the show has some guts left in it, but again I wish that they would display those guts from the start to a finish of an episode. Maybe one of these days.
-Why is Claire yelling?
-Jokes are 0 for 2, make that 0 for 3.
-“Claire wasn’t even a girl scout.”
-“A dimple Chad situation.” That was clever.
-Love Cam’s puns.
-Good twist with the PA system.
-Oh, a fake tooth we have never heard of comes into play right when she is getting a picture for the paper; convenient writing.
-“Better than being a rat.”
-“Sure, I served him up on a silver platter.”
-“You dated a Dottie after a DeDe?”
-Are they getting actual street reactions?
-Where is David Cross?
-Ugh, this is such a cheap attempt at a laugh; and some terrible dental work.
-If she wins, it’s a sham.
-Really, now this old guy is going to have no oxygen, needs to take a pill, and has a terrible memory? If he was this senile he would have dropped dead already, he lives alone!
-“I’m just trying to put my ballot in the box.”
-How gay are they going to make this Gregory guy; playing to a lot of stereotypes for a show that is supposed to be breaking down said stereotypes.
-“Absolutely no chemistry.”
-“People need to see me.”
-At least they didn’t pull the punches, “I lost, I lost!”
-The sign change was great and a smooth move by Phil. At least they did something right today.
-“I did start trying this year.”
-A very nice moment here. Would have liked it to stay mother/daughter.
-“Our daughter might be going to college!” They will take any win they can get.
-No drunk voice?