What’s Heaven, Who’s a Mob Wife, and How Do We Get to Tolerance?
These are important questions, so I can’t resist beginning this post by writing a little about the theology of this episode! Watching Manny try to choose between Gloria’s wrathful, terribly-rule-bound, sort of superstitious God and Jay’s wishy washy, hunch-filled, nonsensical vision was hilarious. It is curious to me that we’ve never seen Gloria attend church or really, significantly heard God mentioned before, and now religion is all of a sudden at the center of her life. But I’m willing to let that one go for the sake of getting to watch two equally nutty theological schemes work themselves out. I love seeing what happens when we begin to question our assumptions about God…and how we quickly realize how easily some of our foundational beliefs can fall apart. Gloria’s vindictive, punishing God needs to be balanced by a vision of Heaven with clouds like trampolines, sunshine and butterflies (or not) if God is still to be seen to be good. And Jay’s vision of everyone getting into Heaven requires an answer to where do bad people end up…quickly reproducing a vision of Hell, but with better real estate, if it is to satisfy the needs that our visions of Heaven satisfy. But somewhere in that mess of reasoning, Gloria came up with something beautifully true – that the church is made by the people who God made…and that’s what makes it worth attending on a Sunday morning. And somewhere else in the midst of that mess of reasoning we saw all three members of the family come to the most faithful response of all – the ability to find God in the gifts of life, and to express gratitude for that finding. Even if what is found is run over golf clubs, a beautiful morning on the green, or a pile of sugar in espresso.
How intriguing that Modern Family’s first real stab at religion came in an episode that framed the Dunphy’s dilemmas around a manipulation into Tolerance – or, at least, its museum. Alex’s sneaky maneuvering of the family during crisis outdid even Phil’s. And I, for one, was sad to see that step fixed, even for a few minutes. I was quite relieved when the earthquake shook it loose! Best line of the Dunphy story – “We’re not playing good cop – mom”. Phil gets me every time.
Cam and Mitchell were gorgeous as ever in this episode – I love the idea of owning an opera cape that basically pays for itself! And Nathan Lane’s turn as Pepper was perfect. But mostly I love this question of who cleans up what mess in a marriage. It’s true that I too am often the mob wife wearing the mink coat off the back of the truck (especially when it comes to getting lost – a problem I always face as I’m geographically challenged, and which my poor husband always needs to fix while I get more and more frustrated with his reliance on intuition to get us where we need to be). Cam’s inability to get them out of the Oscar Wilde and Crazy Brunch required him benefiting from Mitchell’s dubious methods…even suffering at the hands of that benefit. And that is one of the more surprising aspects of married life – that we find ourselves dependent on each other in ways that are difficult to understand. That my partner can do some things better than me, but not as good as I want him to – and vice versa – creates a constant give and take of vulnerability that sinks us deeper and deeper into real intimacy together and, at the same time, a shared openness to the kindness of others. Cam and Mitchell performed that play of vulnerability and depth so beautifully in this episode!
What were your favourite moments, Moth Chase friends? Which of Pepper’s parties would you attend and why? Studio 54th of July BBQ? Seder-night Fever? Are there butterflies in heaven?