This week on Modern Family, Manny and Luke have a yard sale to raise money for charity, Mitchell doubts Cam’s ability to keep his lost weight off, Claire tries to convince Alex that Alex’s boyfriend is gay, Phil tests out Jay’s motorcycle, and we learn something bizarre about Gloria’s past.
We first hear about the yard sale through a very funny talking head sesh with Manny and Luke. Manny’s in it for altruistic motives: their class will be donating the proceeds to UNICEF. Luke’s a bit more practical: they’re in a competition– whichever class raises the most money gets a pizza party. I continue to love the juxtaposition of these two boys’ outlook on life at the same age.
Phil borrows Jay’s motorcycle because he “might be interested in buying it.” He’s actually terrified of motorcycles, but he wants to prove his manhood to Claire and company. Surprisingly, he discovers he actually enjoys riding it, and he “becomes one” with the hog. This of course leads to him falling off the bike while out in the middle of nowhere, which results in a hilarious 127 Hours spoof self-recorded video of Phil saying goodbye to his family before he cuts off his leg… of his pants… to break free. A little bit surreal for Modern Family, but it was funny enough that I was onboard. The show’s tag has outtakes from the video. It’s pretty amazing. He beat boxes because of course he does.
Turns out motorcycle’s aren’t Phil’s “thing,” but he manages to still be seen as a man in Claire’s eyes. (I mean, he’s come THIS far.)
In an all-too-relatable storyline, Alex is dating a boy who very clearly needs to come out of the closet. Claire, wanting to protect her from getting hurt, enlists the help of her “gay guns” (as Alex would later refer to them): Cam and Mitchell. Cam tries to tell Alex an anecdote about the time he dated a girl (ended in the girl writing something “unmentionable” on his front porch), but Alex cuts him off. It’s the 21st century; she can just ask her boyfriend about his sexuality straight up (pun intended). But when she respectfully broaches the subject, Michael flips out. He’s not mad that she doubted his hetero-ness, he’s “angry.” “Those are synonyms,” Alex points out. “You just know everything today!” Michael cries.
Cam and Mitchell have their weekly tiff, this time about Cam’s fat pants. Cam wants to sell his old jeans in the yard sale, but Mitchell tries to hide them so that if/when Cam gains the weight back, he won’t have to buy all new pants. When Cam inevitably finds out about Mitchell’s machinations, Cam explains to Mitchell that Cam can’t have a safety net – he’ll just gain the weight back if he knows he’ll have the clothing for it. Note that I called this a tiff, not a fight – I thought Cam and Mitchell communicated unusually well this episode.
Gloria turns out to be a bit of a quirk-ball. After Manny tries to sell a certain suitcase he found in the attic, she freaks out, telling him to put it back! No questions asked! Luke is convinced that Gloria’s reaction means there’s a human head inside. Manny points out that Luke’s first guess is always “human head.” Luke: “One of these days, I’ll be right.” Brilliant. Of course Luke and Manny open the suitcase, and it IS sort of a human head – it’s a ventriloquist’s dummy! Weird! Somewhat unbelievably, Gloria explains to the family that she used to do a ventriloquist act in her Colombian beauty pageant days. This doll was Uncle Grumpy. She’s mortified about it, but by the end of the episode, the family has convinced her to put on a show anyway. She’s actually pretty good – it’s like a vaudeville-style-humor type thing that seemed written for the sole purpose of forcing Sofia Vergara to put on a puppet show. Meanwhile, Jay has been irritable this entire episode because a yard sale is no place for a misanthrope. As he walks by during her act, it becomes blatantly obvious. Claire: “Gloria married her puppet.”
Overall, it was a very funny episode, but it seems like the show is evolving to have a broader tone. I love that style of humor, so I’m totally onboard with its ridiculousness, but that’s definitely not what made the show famous in the first place. People initially loved the show because of its “too true” scenarios and interactions. I hope the rest of its viewers are willing to grow with these storylines.
Photos: screencaps of ABC’s “Modern Family”. Photo of Ty Burrell on main blog page by ABC/PETER “HOPPER” STONE.