And We’re Methodists
This episode picked up a familiar theme for sitcoms – partners not knowing what the other partner wants. But it did two things with it that I found to be more interesting than its usual playing out. Sure it had the missed communication and missed understandings – but the humour of the episode was not dependent on these. The humour happened around them, but it wasn’t due to them. There’s a core to the relationships on Modern Family that is never exploited. For all the ways the family members mess around with each other, the writers never undermine the integrity of the spousal relationships for the sake of a laugh. Anything that deals with the deep part of those bonds takes itself seriously – even in the midst of the crazy.
And second, and here’s what I really enjoyed, it dealt with the real issue at stake when one’s partner isn’t doing what one wants them to do. Usually this narrative would play out along the lines of control issues and power struggles. But Mitchell summed it up perfectly when he pointed out that these mis-communications hurt because they make evident the ways in which we’re never on the same wavelength with our partner to the extent that we think we might be. They reveal the gaps in our relationships – the places where we don’t know each other as deeply as we thought. And facing those gaps hurts…no matter how natural, normal and even necessary their existence might be. The spousal/partner relationship is one of the most intimate – if not the most intimate – relationship someone can experience. But sitcoms tend to play it as either stupidly romantic or, more often, cut-throat and bickery. One of the reasons I love Modern Family is its refusal to take either of those approaches. Watching these two couples come not to deeply understand each other, but to love each other in the midst of misunderstanding – to embrace the mystery of marriage – was quite lovely.
Ok, so if Lilly is not the cutest baby, I don’t know who is! I wish we could have seen some of her playdate with Jasper! Overall this episode didn’t have many hilarious stand-alone lines for me…besides Phil’s description of realtors as ninjas in blazers and, of course, Cam telling Mitchell to pretend they’re Methodists for the sake of the play-date (the line for which this post is titled). What about you, dear readers – favourite moments? Best lines? Did the story resonate with you too?