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Modern Family Watch: Season 3, Episode 21 - Planes, Trains, and Cars

This week’s episode of Modern Family is another mixed bag for the show, with one plot getting a bit out of the other hand while the others wrap up rather nicely.

The problems lie in the plot line involving Jay, Manny, and Gloria as they are trying to get to a reunion for Jay up north. Jay is super excited and lines up an elaborate weekend for everyone, but Gloria makes things very difficult. As they try to get up there, a series of events get in the way, which is more than predictable, but the real problem lies in how insensitive the plot line is. Jay brushes off a very true and sad comment from Gloria about how bad life for minorities was back in the, “good ole days,” Manny makes a homophobic comment about a male masseuse, and Gloria openly celebrates the objectivity of herself and the shallow nature of her husband wanting to show her off for his own selfish reasons. It was very out of character for all three of them and the show has never been so consistently off or cruel in this way for an entire plot line. A sad low for jokes on the show.

Thankfully the other two plots are offensive free and pretty funny for the most part. Cam and Mitchell have a dilemma or sorts in the loss of Lily’s precious stuffed animal, Bunny, and they must argue their way to a solution. The humor between the two is solid and gets into an interesting dilemma parents must have to deal with everyday; when do we expose our children to loss. The set up for the lesson is silly, but the conversation is both true and funny, punctuated by a great scene to cap off their debate when they discover Bunny is now a homeless man’s cough rag. Both characters are great in the moment and they get to throw out one of the weirdest Star Wars references I have ever heard.

The real winner of the night is Claire and Phil though, as they surprised me at every turn this week. The set up seemed obvious, Phil buying the small, flashy car that will drive Claire up a wall, but the episode threw a welcome curveball as Claire gets her hands on the car. Driving up the coast and hitting an isolated beach provides for some well written and acted laughs while leading into one of the sweeter moments on the show this season. Claire loses the keys to the car and Phil has to come to the rescue, but the moment is a well rounded observation of family and relationships that was a really nice way to end the episode. I was ecstatic that Claire didn’t just lose it and that they didn’t just throw in a random issue to provide drama for her in the episode as they have in the last couple weeks. Everything unfolds naturally to its excellent conclusion.

Outside the huge misfire with Jay and crew, this week’s episode of Modern Family was one of the season’s better entries. They somehow made up for some offensive red flags and it is bizarre that the episodes quality could be so wildly off. Anyway, we got some great stuff with Claire, Phil, Lily, Mitchell, and Cam and hopefully they can make all three parts work next week; and hopefully not as insensitive either.


-“What do I have to do today to get you to say ‘What do I have to do to get you in a car today.’”

-“They don’t catch up, that’s called a collision.”

-“Let’s get her top down and see what she can do.” Funny, but old hat.

-“Unless you are a woman, Black, Hispanic, or gay.” That was rather insensitive response by Jay.

-“She did not blink once.”

-“Nah, I’m going to jog.”

-Cam can sleep with his eyes open? Interesting talent.

-“Whoa, nobody said three.”

-Nice little camera work there.

-I am glad they are letting Claire let Phil screw this up instead of just ripping him a new one.

-“Since when?”

-Manny is homophobic now?

-“Not those.”

-They should have Claire blow through that stop sign she got put in.

-“It’s my turn to be irresponsible, good thing I brought sunscreen.”

-The helicopter is a bit much, but just a bit crazy to be run with it.

-“When I met you were eating cereal out of a bucket."

-“Awe!!!!” A great moment there with Lily.

-Good physical humor there by Bowen on the beach.

-That was the oddest Star Wars reference I have seen in a long time.

-“You turned out great, you’re a big lawyer.”

-“It won’t be stopping so you’ll have to run real good. No heals.”

-Gloria isn’t being very cooperative.

-We are all about demeaning everybody this week aren’t we?

-“Good, if we get out of here in ten minutes we don’t have to pay for the second hour.”

-“Without me?”

-This turned into a pretty sweet little story for Claire and Phil here.


-“Why are you running again?”