There was a new episode of Modern Family last night, and I have a review of it after the jump.
Now that’s better.
I wasn’t thrilled with the last two episodes, despite some solid story lines and humor. Plots were wrapped up in silly misunderstandings, the three families never interacted, and some of the plots just weren’t all that funny.
This week, though, I thought things really clicked. The episode title, “Caught in the Act,” refers, of course, to the Dunphy kids walking in on their parents while they are, ahem, celebrating their anniversary. I’m sure this has been done on sitcoms before, but Modern Family really put its own spin on it by giving us fully fleshed out reactions from Phil and Claire, all three kids, and even Jay and Gloria. And after what I thought was some spotty characterization the past couple of weeks, all of the reactions in last night’s episodes were perfectly in character. Claire became a nervous wreck and carefully planned out what she would say to the kids. Phil wanted to try to play it cool and crack some jokes (including a particularly on-the-nose knock knock joke). The kids just smiled and nodded, while thinking about something else (just like in school!).
The writers also did a nice job at putting a sweet spin on the story by having Haley, Alex, and Luke realize they’d rather experience this particular trauma than be living with divorced parents. The moral came before the end of the episode and was stated naturally by the kids, saving us from the schmaltzy voiceover the show has relied on in the past. *That’s* how you do funny and sweet at the same time.
Jay and Gloria’s subplot was yet another example of the show relying on a very sitcom-y misunderstanding, but I thought it worked much better this week by having the misunderstanding take place between two of the families, rather than between one family and a stranger. I’m always a fan of more inter-family interaction, and it was nice that it didn’t take a big reunion or special event to get Jay and Gloria to interact with Claire and Phil. And by grounding the whole conflict in Gloria and Claire’s previously established rivalry (in Gloria’s words, “Claire is a bossy control freak”), we understood exactly why Gloria didn’t want Claire to read the email and why she jumped to the conclusions that she did.
We also got a nice resolution when Claire and Gloria finally acknowledged they were confused, but Gloria kept up the misunderstanding to save herself the embarrassment. Giving Gloria the agency to continue the lie and cover it up without Claire ever knowing saved the story from being just another generic sitcom plot.
The Cam and Mitchell plot is the only thing keeping this episode from being A+ material in my book, but it still worked well. I would have liked to see it a little more thematically in line with the other two story lines, but it had some nice moments and a good guest star in Rachael Harris. We’ve seen Cam and Mitchell’s willingness to use questionable methods to get into esteemed locations before, so this was a good continuation of that particular trait. They just don’t have very good luck actually getting into these places, do they?
Bits & Pieces
- “They can take us at 5:15…” “What are we, 80?” “…or 10:45.” “What are we, 20?”
- “We were, as they say, having sex.”
- “They talk about everything. We had a family meeting when we switched to 1% milk”
- “We’re not sorry about what happened… we’re sorry you saw what happened.”
Share your thoughts on “Caught in the Act” in the comments section below!