The Moth Chase

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

It’s Like Riding a Bike…

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My raucous laughter at Modern Family had waned a little in the last few episodes, but this one brought it back.  This season has Gloria stepping fully into her comedic role and I’m finding her to be truly amazing!  Such a sexy woman doing physical humor is rare and, I imagine, difficult to pull off (it’s kind of like someone as sexy as Javier Bardem playing a creepy psychotic like Chigurh – so incongruous it works even more).  But the character who really captivated my attention in this episode was Claire.

To be honest, I struggle a little with the Claire character.  She’s funny, for sure – but she’s also so neurotic at times that she makes me uncomfortable (and not in the Modern Family/Curb Your Enthusiasm/The (British) Office good way).  Not to mention she’s so unnaturally skinny I’m scared she’s going to snap in half with every move.  I guess I get a little tired of the narrative of the mom who gave up her career to raise her kids…who somehow lives in a giant house on a single income with every amenity one could possibly want.  I’m bummed that the show hasn’t given us one strong female lead who works outside the home.  Alex seems as close as we can get to that.  And while I think it works with Gloria – accentuating her “trophy wife” status – it doesn’t so much with Claire for me.  I get frustrated with the stupid things she fixates on.  And I find myself longing for a storyline with her that doesn’t involve a neurotic meltdown about something weird.

But I think Claire is like every other character in this sense – I constantly have to try to figure out if she’s just a stereotype of who she is, or if she’s exposing some of the darker, sadder, more poignant truths of the cultural figure she portrays.  We know that the “Leave it to Beaver” or “Happy Days” era with the mother being a central, power-figure is gone – but Claire brings that fully to light for us.  When she is in the spotlight, it’s for her disfunctionality.  And the obsessive and ridiculous nature of most of her pre-occupations gives us insight into what life might be like for women confined to their domestic chores with little ‘outside-world’ stimulus.

Being a stay-at-home mom has its own unique set of challenges (I imagine) – and perhaps Claire gets them dead on instead of skirting around them.  Small things get loaded with meaning because their role in her tiny sphere is proportionally immense.  And when those things are good things, it’s actually quite beautiful (a day spent sick in bed with a daughter, the right performance of a Hallowe’en house).  So when they’re good, I can see the beauty of domestic life (or at least hope for it).  But of course when they’re negative, oof – then they just seem petty and narrow.  But maybe that’s true too.

The Cam and Mitchell storyline was hilarious – but what really got me were the revelations of the small injustices a gay couple needs to greet in daily life.  I thought they were honest and so perfectly portrayed – when the landlady called Cam by the wrong male name and he just let it slide, and her comment that they’re lucky they can’t get married – both moments were cringeworthy, but offered insight into the stupid things people say and do in the midst of cultural shifts that they don’t know how to handle taking place.  And I’m glad the show is starting to incorporate such finer details.

I was left wondering, though – Cam and Mitchell rent?!  Wow, how had I not noticed that they are the only family whose upstairs we never see!?!?  For all the ways I get frustrated with the splendor of single income homes on these shows, it seems Cam and Mitchell’s place was being a little more honest about the economic sacrifices that need to be made to have one parent stay at home.

What did you think, dear readers?  Favourite moments?  How are you enjoying season 2?


Written by themothchase

January 6, 2011 at 10:55 am

2 Responses

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  1. I enjoyed the insights you made on Claire. I think as someone who is not a stay-at-home Mom/Wife it is impossible for me to know how the smallest thing in her environment can become so BIG.

    However, I think the everyday-ness of Cam & Mitchell’s life together is so important and truly ground breaking. For a long time the home life of gay & lesbian folks has been made out to be some soap opera like existence on tv shows, news reports and every cable/radio talk show in the continental United States. So much so that, I think, it is difficult for people to realize how ordinary & human these relationships really are. And, for those of us who are in long term same-sex relationships it is beautiful to see a couple/family on television who looks like us & knows they each others “stuff” & they love each other, they “I told you so” each other, they laugh at each other and they keep going. I just don’t think the importance of that storyline being on television right now can be overstated.


    January 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

    • Thanks, Angela! I whole-heartedly agree. As an extension of that, as a member of an opposite-sexed couple who is intentional about maintaining non-traditional gender roles, I am often intrigued by how much more I relate to Cam and Mitchell’s ways of being together than either of the straight couples on the show.


      January 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm

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