The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Making Tradition Bigger

with 2 comments

So I’m new to the Modern Family watching, but I’ve quickly come to love it!  With each episode I love each character just a little more, and last night was no exception.  It captured everything that makes this show so great – I laughed my ass off through the whole thing and then got a little weepy at the beauty and wisdom with which it closed. 

Three key storylines: Mitchell and Cameron accidentally get a mall Santa fired for not being fat enough and that Santa teaches them an important lesson about forgiveness; the Dunphys attempt to cancel Christmas when they think they’re kids are smoking liars but reinstate it when Alex is willing to sacrifice herself so everyone else can have their holiday; and Gloria, Jay and Manny battle over whose Christmas is the true Christmas in the ongoing give and take of new multi-cultural life together.

What I liked about the Delgado-Pritchett storyline was that the competing traditions were, in many ways, irreconcilable.  You can’t go to bed at 9pm and stay up all night.  You can’t open one present the day before and all presents the day before.  Joke versions of a favourite Christmas movie effectively ruin that Christmas movie.  And so an additive approach just wouldn’t work.  The word ‘tradition’ might get a lot bigger, but it can’t do so simply by doing everything and letting that chaos reign.

And so Jay learns a more important lesson – the holidays are special because of the traditions we repeat, the new traditions we create, but also because of the moments of surplus to and aberration from everything we try to put in place.  We remember the Christmas our parents went crazy, for example.

Ok, so if you don’t watch this show yet, a) you should and b) all that probably sounds kind of after-school-special schmaltzy.  But the first 19mins of hilarious ironic humour and riotous observational quips makes room for the final 2mins of life-lessons. 

Best line in the episode: Jay asking Manny, “How can you sit on the baby Jesus’ lap? You’d squish it!” and the runner up, Cam about the New Greensleeves, “It’s like people are applauding out of shock!”

I’m just sad that this was their Christmas episode because that probably means we’re not getting any new ones before the new year – that being said, it gives all us late-comers a chance to catch up on the re-runs that will inevitably be running all season long.

Posted by Natalie

Written by themothchase

December 10, 2009 at 11:05 am

2 Responses

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  1. Yes, I think you’ve nailed it on the head — the show earns its ending sweetness by the acerbic humor running up to it. Overall I think this show just really has a lot of humanity — being a family is maddening, crazy-making, and hilarious, on top of the love under it all. Geez, now I sound like an after school special!

    Jen

    December 10, 2009 at 12:08 pm

  2. Nat – LOVE this show. Glad to see you’re enjoying! And thanks for reminding me about that Baby Jesus line! Hilarious.

    Ila

    December 10, 2009 at 12:31 pm


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