You guys. I don’t know if it’s because I woke up an hour later than I intended to, or because I was having an awful work dream, or because I’ve just had an emotionally draining week, but I watched last night’s Modern Family this morning… and I did not really enjoy it at all. I don’t really know what the deal is with this show, but, you guys, it’s changed. It is not the show I started watching mid-Season 2 and went back to Season 1 and DEVOURED because it was so fucking funny. I think it boils down to this: It used to be a sitcom that did new and inventive things, or at least the same sitcom-y things in new and inventive ways that made once-hackneyed storylines seem new and refreshing and hilarious again. But now… recently, it’s just become a sitcom. It has its moments, but more and more I feel like it’s run out of ideas. Or at least run out of ways to transform these ideas. That’s why I titled it with the quote I did. Last night’s ep just wasn’t Modern Family.
I will admit that the parenting argument between Claire and Cam was pretty entertaining, especially given the parenting article I read just yesterday, despite the fact that, you know, I don’t have kids. But there were two things about the episode that just… didn’t do it for me. One was something we’ve seen time and time again, and I’ve mentioned it before, and the other completely took me out of the episode. So much so, that I can’t even give y’all my typical recap. I have thoughts, and they need to get out.
First of all, what we’ve all seen before. Basically this moral of this episode is “try to see things from their eyes.” You know, don’t be quite so selfish and try to see how others might see a situation. Claire didn’t agree with Cam’s “never say no” parenting “technique,” Gloria was jealous of this waitress who worked at a diner whom everyone else in the family adores and seems to know Jay on a person (but not carnal, as far as I can tell) level, and Phil had to “fire” Mitchell from a favor he was doing for Phil’s firm. They all took it personally, and there were definitely funny moments. But when the episode culminates in people pairing off and being the voice of reason to the other person… and then having them all show up at the diner to eat Jay Pritchett sandwiches (which sound disgusting, by the way, especially since Gloria describes it like so: “It’s like a fish and a turkey beat themselves with a pepper.” Gross.), was exactly what we all expected to happen, and it wasn’t even that heartwarming. This show can DO heartwarming. It has done it SO WELL in the past, but this episode had no fire – except the one Luke started and extinguished. The chats were all… typical, and expected.
And maybe I’m just expecting too much from this show, or something. Maybe I’m wanting it to be something that it’s not. And I know that not every single episode is going to be a goddamn gem, but this show had TWO seasons that were not this predictable. And what’s worse is that I feel like the characters have kind of become caricatures of themselves. That’s not always a bad thing, and we don’t see it in every episode. But it’s like when we get handfuls of episodes where Mitchell has issues with his childhood and Jay. Of COURSE this is realistic. Daddy issues don’t go away overnight. I know this. But when we get the same story line over and over and over again and drama and hurt feelings and blah blah blah, but it’s all going to be resolved in a hug. It doesn’t work for me anymore. These kinds of sitcoms don’t work for me. Modern Family has become… *gulp*… formulaic. And I hate it.
Oh, and speaking of caricatures… Phil. I fucking love Phil and all his wild antics. I would TV marry him in a HEARTBEAT. I’ve said this before. Ty Burrell can have my imaginary children (whom I will NOT attachment parent!) any day. But they made him do something so out-of-character that… I literally wrote in my notes “I DON’T BELIEVE THIS FOR A SECOND.” This offense was different than when they made him all serious in that episode where he ran that seminar that Haley and Gloria were supposed to help him with. That wasn’t an offense at all, and it was exactly as I expected SeriousPhil to act. I loved that story line. But this… what the hell, man?
So the whole point of Phil’s side of the story last night was that he’s horrible at breaking up with/firing people. Phil is a people-pleaser. We all know this. Phil thinks he’s funny and cool, even when he’s not, and I’m okay with that. Claire is okay with that. Everyone is okay with that. Fine. Got it. But then he admits to the camera that he once tried to break up with a girl, but danced around what he meant so much, that she didn’t actually GET that he was breaking up with her. “And 20 years later, we’re still married.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Are we seriously supposed to believe that Phil is so much of a push over that he allowed Claire to ignore his signals and force him to marry her? Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. People change, and obviously he asked her to marry him. But this show has ALWAYS given the impression that he loves Claire with the bottom of his silly little, antic-loving heart. You can’t just turn it around and have him make an off-hand comment like that. It implies that he doesn’t. It completely changes who he is and his relationship with her. It would have been one thing if he’d said it as a joke, but he clearly wasn’t. Y’all know how much Phil likes his own jokes. Man was not laughing. Maybe it doesn’t seem like such a big thing, but it was SO off-putting. Just two episodes ago, Claire and Phil are so cute and in love and doing cartwheels together and vowing to go to the beach alone together more often. When Mitchell outted him for saying that, the look on Haley’s face said it all. INCONCEIVABLE! I even mentioned it happened to a friend who hasn’t been able to watch the episode yet, and she was shocked they did that.
Look, I realize that some of you may think that I’m taking this too seriously, but I’m not talking about fictional characters anymore. I’m talking about the way story telling works. I’m talking about the way character development works. You cannot – especially in TV – establish a character as one thing and then suddenly have them change for no reason. Characters change all the time, and maybe that change will be explained over time, but need I reiterate that this is a sitcom? This is the kind of heavy shit that happens when one of the stars goes on a bender, or dies, or the show is about to get canceled. This is not the plot twist that happens on Modern Fucking Family.
I bet you this never comes up again.
And that makes it even worse.
Okay, now for the things in this episode that I DID enjoy – because I did enjoy parts of it. I’m just going to list them Random Thoughts/Quotes style.
- “This isn’t the face of a cold-blooded hatchet man!” No, it’s the face of my unborn imaginary childrens’ father!
- Loved Alex being upset her teacher called her by the wrong name. “’That’s nice, Alice.’ It’s been a year! A year!’” I feel you pain, gurl. Look, I know that Christine is only one letter away from Christina, but for GOD’S SAKE PEOPLE. There was always one teacher who did it. And, bad news, it hasn’t stopped since I’ve been out of school.
- “Maybe that’s what I should be when I grow up. A professional medal-getter!” Luke is precious.
- “We’re 10 seconds away from creating Luketonium!” This may have been my favorite part of the episode. Hence the picture.
- “Come on, Alice.” Hahaha Luke. I don’t know if he did that on purpose or not, but it made me LOL.
- “They named you after a sandwich?”
- I love that Cam picked Haley up from the party. That was actually really Cool Uncle of him.
- “But at night she’s a yes machine.” See? THIS is the Phil we know.
- I’d like to be my own Nap Captain right now.
- This is actually something I hated, but in the interest of “random thoughts,” I included it. Phil’s whole office is FULL OF BITCHES. They called Mitchell lazy… because he wouldn’ take the stairs?? That made me really angry. I don’t know why. And when he was all, “I finally had to lay down,” and that woman walks by all, “Figures…” BITCHES. ALL OF THEM.
- “Second best hugger in the world next to Mr. Burt Reynolds. Story to follow.” Ha! I need to start saying “story to follow” in my every day life, p.s.
- Wait, so Alex’s project is basically to have a 90 second art installation? WTF kind of school is this? We made shit out of papier-mâché.
- I did enjoy everyone having to keep a smile on their face while outing each other’s issues.
- “As someone who has seen actual hogwash, I can assure you it’s not.” Heart Cam so much.
Whew. Alright. So what did you guys think of the episode? Please, if I’m out of line, tell me. If you agree with me, come join the mini confusion storm! I’ll tell y’all one thing though. I think I’m done with this show. I’ll still watch it, but week after week, there’s not enough for me to keep recapping. I actually do like the show, so I wouldn’t dream of hatecapping, but I don’t have it in me to recap anymore. Finale next week, though, which I will be covering. Here’s to hoping the season goes out with a righteous bang!