A Scene Out of Jersey Boys
Tonight’s Modern Family theme was the question: can people change and, if so, how much? The answer: 15%. And so we had narratives that revealed the balance of how much our characters have stayed the same (Jay still embarrassed of his son’s sexuality; just as when he came out of the womb, Cam is still like “hello!”; Phil is still a cheerleader) and how much they’ve changed (Jay tries to help Shortie come out; Cam sometimes summons up his ‘cowboy voice’; Phil, well – Phil really is just Phil!). But perhaps the more interesting ‘change’ of the evening was found in the format of the show itself.
I mentioned last week that I really wished the show would be a little looser with the theme and that I wished it would mix up the families more as it explored its theme – thank you Modern Family for granting my wish so quickly!
Because I think it paid off. Rather than keeping each family unit closed and defined by the spousal relationship, things got shaken up. Sure, we had the duel between Claire and Phil over the remote control technology, but even that plot revealed its loveliest moment in the middle of the night as Haley and Claire forged a long-overdue connection. The other two storylines revolved around Manny and Gloria teaming up to give the fabulous Kristen Schaal (Mel from Flight of the Concords) a makeover and Jay’s various interactions with Cam, Mitchell and Shortie
Why was this mix up good? Because there are so many other beautiful relationships in this show besides the spouses! And we not only got to see them tonight; we also got to see them develop a little. Jay might not be able to affirm Mitchell directly, but we get to see him try to transfer that affirmation to another character, Shortie. And we got to see Mitchell getting it, and appreciating it. Oh, and thank God Manny is back! That kid is amazing and it was wonderful seeing him and Gloria team up. And while the season thus far has mostly played up the fraught relationship that exists between teenage girls and their mothers, tonight we got to see the flip side of that relationship that also usually exists – genuine trust, care and even fun.
Best lines in the episode (besides the aforementioned, “I used my cowboy voice” – oh, what I would give to hear Cam’s cowboy voice!): Jay’s, “I’ve got a gay son and a Chinese granddaughter” as Mitchell mutters, “she’s Vietnamese” and Jay responds, “Only you would know the difference”.
Best pop culture reference – the ongoing jokes about the trifecta of those who love vampire novels: little kids, lonely white women and gay men.
And, as this show has received much accolade for its healthy, stereotype breaking and honest portrayal of a gay couple, best riff on sexuality: Mitchell drawing us all into thinking that Shortie was gay only to reveal that good taste in clothes, the ability to be affectionate with men, and a mysterious divorce in one’s past does not a gay man make.
Sorry NBC and your wonderful Thursday night line up – Modern Family is still the reigning best comedy out there right now!
Posted by Natalie.
To read the posts on Modern Family from start to finish, see here.