You Don’t Like Kissbuggy??
After last week’s great return, I have to say that this episode didn’t fully do it for me. In some ways it felt a little forced (I found the whole lead up to the, “kiss your son, now kiss your lover” scene quite awkward…and not in that brilliant British Office kind of way). To me, the pacing wasn’t quite right. That being said, the payoff from the strange build up was quite lovely. Jay’s kiss for Mitchell was actually sweet, and the immediacy with which it allowed a sweet kiss, almost off-frame, between Cam and Mitchell was also perfect. And in a sense, it also felt like a significant television moment, in large part because of its insignificance. I was watching a tv show on the history of same sex kisses on television the other day and was shocked to learn that there was a 9 year gap between the first girl-girl kiss and the first boy-boy one. Even 5 years ago, two men kissing on television was radical – it required the gearing of an entire storyline toward it, and what mattered about it was the intensity of the kiss itself, not the narrative it unfolded. But in this story, the kiss served the larger narrative arc – it told us stories of childhood, intimacy and care (and its trickle-down affect to Manny’s good-night and Alex’s own self-realizations was also beautiful). It reminded us of how broken relationships can create further brokenness, but that healing can also self-perpetuate. But what made this kiss so lovely, in my view, was the preparation that happened for it in last week’s episode (not, quite clearly, the prep within its own arc). I noticed immediately in the season opener that Cam and Mitchell were much more physically affectionate with each other…an absence I hadn’t noticed last season, but now realize was there. These two actors continue to grow in their gorgeous ability to authentically portray a same-sex family (for which the show has been much lauded)…they remain my favourite, and most inspiring couple to watch in the whole Modern Family cast.
As the episode unfolded to reveal a theme of succeeding and failing to live up to expectations – Mitchell not living up to Cam’s affection, Claire presenting real and fake selves for her kids to emulate, Alex’s own expectations of what a romantic relationship should be – the one I found most intriguing was Gloria’s story. Her hookwinking of Jay required his own sense of expectation – what a Colombian woman should be, how her culture should perform. And in the most wonderful twist of insurgency, she used that expectation for his downfall. Chicken slapping, shoes around the neck – what brilliant little pieces of cultural ritual that seem to believable but are gloriously bunk. The old idea that forcing people into our own expectations for them is bad – simply from a moral point of view – was upended by Gloria’s games in such a brilliant way. If forcing people into my expectations is bad, not just morally, but because it allows them to totally mess with me if they have the savvy and deviousness to do so…that might just be the best lesson of all!
What did you guys think? Favourite lines? Moments?