Review: Modern Family - Fifteen Percent
by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 21st 2010 6:30AM
(S01E13) As usual, there was a ton going on this week, with all three families dealing with different types of crises. Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) was in one of the more unusual guest roles I've seen in awhile. You can't really describe how she came to be on the episode without it sounding all kinds of creepy, and yet the show managed to avoid any of the cliche reactions to what happened.
The way they've handled Jay's reaction to and dealing with the ongoing situation of his son's homosexuality has also managed to avoid the trite and formulaic "tough guy" dads we're used to seeing. There's just something more authentic about all these relationships, and I think a lot of it is bucking expectations. Gloria's not a gold-digging foreigner, nor is she just looking for a green card marriage. She's a sweet and understanding woman who genuinely loves her husband and son. Maybe a little too understanding.
When Kristen Schaal showed up at the doorstep as Manny's internet date, Whitney, it was the perfect opportunity for Gloria to show her some of that Colombian rage. Instead, she took the poor girl in and gave her a should to cry on, and then a makeover.
I like that Gloria doesn't know what to make of Manny's maturity and therefore bizarre behavior with most things. There's no sensible precedent for why he behaves that way, unless he feels he needs to be the man for his mother, since his father wasn't. But I don't think the Manny character would be nearly as entertaining if he weren't a miniature adult.
Jay's reaction to the whole situation is priceless. Nonplussed completely that a woman in her 30s would be the date for his pre-pubescent stepchild. In his defense, he was a little distracted by Mitchell's gaydar claim about his friend. I still think Mitchell may have been right about Shorty being gay. Shorty's just not ready to face it yet. Or maybe he just really likes fashion.
Cameron remains a riot in almost every scene he's a part of. He's so over-the-top most of the time, the description of his birth was just priceless. I loved that he thinks he went medieval on the phone by saying he was displeased, and that he set the flowers on fire to try and make them look more pathetic for the florist. His heart's almost as big as he is, but sometimes it gets in the way of his thinking, which is what makes Mitchell such a great partner for him.
Over at Phil and Claire's house, they did stray a bit into the stereotypical by having Claire completely inept with technology. I did laugh at how quick Phil was to declare Luke their dumbest child; and it's hard to argue. Haley's just dumb teenager. Nevertheless, both sequences with Haley and the remote were again just dripping with authenticity. Her disinterest until she could prove her mom wrong, followed by her genuine excitement when she got it right. And then later, getting excited with her mom while teaching her how to do it. It's so real, and so funny at the same time.
I am completely comfortable with these families, and I think that makes it even easier to laugh at the small things that happened along the way:
- Claire on the webcam in her underwear with Haley's boyfriend, unaware that he can see her.
- "It's a good thing Lily doesn't have an ejector seat," Cameron about Mitchell's ability to operate the voice controls in their car.
- Claire losing it and needing Phil to make "it" stop, with "it" being The View.
- "The snowflake button makes it cold, cold, cold. Set temperature makes it hold, hold, hold."
- Manny: "If neither of us is with anybody in ten years, how about you and me give it a shot?"
Whitney: "That's disturbing -- but maybe."
- Phil being very sensitive about Lane. "He built his own helicopter."
- "Look at that. Two things flaming at once." Mitchell about Cameron freaking out and the flowers on fire.
- Whitney: "I just met the sweetest guy named Cameron. I think he might be the one."