Modern Family: The Bicycle Thief
by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 1st 2009 12:35AM
(S01E02) Let all the doubters stand and face the wall in shame. This cast is not too big and this is absolutely the funniest new show of the season. Tonight, rather than have the characters interact directly (except for one small scene), the connection between them was thematic. And tonight it was all about fatherhood.
When they opened the show with the fathers talking about what they thought fatherhood meant, I knew this show was going to become a huge hit. They absolutely get it. They've got something really special with the three family dynamics they've set up. Something that represents almost every facet of modern America all in one show. And one by one they can talk about anything through these families.
It's brilliance in its simplicity, brilliantly executed. Not only did we get so many funny moments throughout, but if we paid close attention, we learned several lessons about life and parenthood between the laughs.
Cameron & Mitchell
I am falling in love with Cameron. I love how he is so completely comfortable in his skin that he's authentic and true to himself all the time. Mitchell is so worried about pleasing everyone all the time that he forced Cameron to act "straight" at some bizarre baby dance/activity/learn class. Mitchell could learn a lot about acceptance and the power of being yourself from Cameron.
Cam did pretty well acting straight, though. Holding a football makes you look straight. Dancing stiffly like you don't want to be there makes you look straight. And khaki and polo shirts scream straight. And yet everyone there knows they're gay, so what is Mitchell's deal?
This was the most "sitcom" of the storylines. I saw almost every step of it coming a mile away, but it was still funny. When the new neighbor came trotting down the driveway with the third identical bike I just started laughing, thinking about the absurdity of the whole thing.
Even worse, I don't think Phil necessarily had a bad idea as far as teaching his son a lesson goes. It was just bad luck after bad luck that lead to him buying two bikes and stealing one.
Jay's story is the most intriguing to me. Here's a guy whose kids are grown and out of the house. He gets the opportunity to marry a hot Colombian woman, and of course he takes it. But he's a man enjoying not having kids, and suddenly he's saddled with Manny. Worse yet, Manny isn't the kind of son he wants any more than Mitchell was.
I'm glad to see Ed O'Neill playing Jay with a heart, though. It would have been easy to make him the standard stepfather who could give a rat's ass, but instead you can already tell that he's going to develop a bond with Manny. Good thing, too, because it looks like Manny is in for a world of disappointment with his real father.
That scene of him sitting out there waiting for a father who was never going to show up, and for no good reason, resonated with me because that's what we used to do waiting for my sister's father. Eventually, it was just her sitting out there and it looked equally sad.
It was sweet of Jay to maintain the kid's delusion that his dad isn't a piece of crap, at the expense of Manny even liking him. Jay's got a good heart. That's the thing that makes this show work underneath it all. These people all care and they're all coming from a place of love. I think ABC struck gold with Modern Family.
[You can find clips and full episodes of Modern Family over on SlashControl.]