'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 5 Recap
by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 21st 2010 10:00AM
['Modern Family' - 'Unplugged']
While 'Modern Family' is consistently one of the funniest half hours on television, it's rarely as well-balanced as this episode. Each family's story had moments where I was genuinely laughing, and I even found a connecting theme.
Our perceptions of people can just as easily be misconceptions. Who knows what lengths a teenage girl would go to in order to get a new car? Can you speculate on what someone will do now based on what they've done in the past?
And most importantly, should you break into a character during an interview because you perceive that it may not be going your way? I'll go ahead and answer that last one for you with an emphatic NO!
That said, I was so glad they went back to Cam's disastrous Native American monologue during the closing credits. I don't even know that I caught all of the ridiculous things he said in that horribly stereotyped broken English, but I caught enough for it to be the funniest monologue of the episode. I wonder how much of it was ad-libbed.
It's safe to say that Cam panicked when he saw their chances of getting into the prestigious Billingsley Academy slipping away. Everything was going so well when they found out that as a gay couple with an ethnic baby, they were a hot commodity. But then, competition showed up. As Cameron described them, "Disabled interracial lesbians with an African kicker?"
What's more important to note is that Cameron allowed himself to get caught up in Mitchell's constant strive to be the best -- and perhaps even more importantly to be seen as the best -- and sacrificed his own happiness with the day care Claire worked so hard to get them an interview at, and that already had accepted them by the time they got an interview at Billingsley.
When one family is mixed up in some incident and they only cross over tangentially, as Mitchell and Claire did in this episode, you have to wonder what Cam and Mitch thought of the things Claire was saying. She went on about how significant it was that she'd used a land line to book them the first interview. But I loved the simple beauty of the fact that she and Mitchell (and Cameron) were freaking out about two totally different things at the same time during that first phone call, since that makes for some of the best exchanges.
Claire had just flipped her lid over her entire family being on electronic gadgets at the breakfast table when Mitchell called with concern about Lily's future. Out of frustration, Claire shouted to just get her a Blackberry because that's all she'll want anyway. "Lily doesn't have the dexterity for that, Claire!" Cameron shouted in confusion. "What is happening?" Nobody does freaking out like Eric Stonestreet.
The breakfast incident led to a new rule being laid down that would have seen the family going without their gadgets for a week, but for "Cool Dad" Phil turning it into a game with outlandish and unrealistic prizes. Most notably, he promised a new car to Haley if she won. Once again, the writers are giving the Dunphy girls a real chance to shine this season, and Haley was particularly fun as the exasperated teen denied her telephone.
I absolutely did not get the connection of her request for a bar of soap and markers early in the episode, but it was brilliantly brought back to bear at the end when she'd crafted a fake cell phone out of soap to trick Phil into using technology before her. In is defense, and people on fantasy leagues will back Phil up completely on this, he needed to make a key roster change. This stuff matters!
Haley may not be book smart, but she's definitely got some savvy and that's an admirable quality. Unfortunately for her, she's still just a kid and that means the rules can be changed completely, even if it's unfair. "It's totally not fair," Phil agreed. "Bad parenting!" Maybe, but it's good television.
Beyond Sofia Vergara's thick accent, no mention of her unique voice has been made on the show. When the neighbor was under the impression they had a parrot -- cut to various shots of Gloria yelling Jay's name -- I was caught off guard. When her shouting of his name triggered a car alarm I was laughing out loud. I love that the writers have this gorgeous woman, and they've made her intimidating.
When the neighbor's barking dog went missing, both Jay and Manny suspected Gloria might have done it. She looked genuinely frightening in the garage showdown over the shovel. In the end, she'd kidnapped the dog but had taken it to a farm so it could run free and play. How perfect that she didn't know that's the classic euphemism for putting down a pet.
I know Gloria doesn't want Jay to see her village, as he might find it's more like he's been describing all along despite her protestations, but I would love to see an episode with the entire cast heading to Gloria's home country. It could be a special two-parter like their trip to Hawaii. While Jay might be a little put off, can you imagine the trouble Phil would get into?
'Modern Family' airs Wed., 9PM ET on ABC
[Follow Jason @ultraversion21 on Twitter.]