Modern Family Recap: The Wow Factor

This week on Modern Family: Claire and Cam manipulate each other; Mitchell stands up to Lily’s bully; Phil “teaches” the girls some domestic skills; and Jay passes Joe off to a lady at the mall.

Claire and Cam have teamed up to handle the renovations on the house they’re flipping. I love that we get the chance to see this odd couple interact. The Pritchett pragmatism is exacerbated by Cam’s more emotional taste in decorating, so the two have to resort to shady manipulation techniques to get what they want. Cam does a “Trojan Horse,” in which he presents a ludicrous option to Claire, and when she rejects it, he counters with the thing he wanted the whole time. For her part, Claire “Number Dumps” on Cam by throwing out a bunch of math until Cam gives up, saying, “As long as it’s pretty.” But when Cam suggests they install an elaborate fountain display in the backyard (“For the ‘wow’ factor!”) and Claire counters with some numbers that are not found in the English language, they’re at an impasse. Cam brings in a lesbian contractor (Wendi McLendon-Covey from Bridesmaids!) as an impartial third opinion, but that just turns into an uncomfortable Claire-flirts-with-the-lesbian sequence. Modern Family does enough for the gay community that I guess they can get away with this, but it still made me feel weird to see this character so easily swayed by Claire’s cartoonish “Oops, I spilled water on my white shirt!” The episode ends with Cam going rogue and installing the fountains in spite of the contractor’s recommendation, and we’re treated to a “wow”-worthy water display . . .

. . . that I thought was kind of tacky. Sometimes, the straight woman (no pun intended) is considered sane because she’s in the right!

When Mitchell sees Lily getting bossed around by a bully on the playground, he tries to stand up to the kid himself by taking a turn against him on the handball court. But, as we know, sports are not Mitchell’s forte, and he gets it hand-ed (High-five!) to him by a little kid. Ouch. Mitchell enlists handball-capable Luke to help train him for a rematch, and when Mitchell gets back in there, he decimates the poor kid. Parents gather to watch Mitchell’s poor sportsmanship, and in the end, it’s decided that Cam should be the one to drop Lily off at school for a little while. It was all worth it for the tag training sequence of Luke beating on Mitchell.

Oh, and what was that line when Luke derisively said of Lily, “Like there’s any emotion in those eyes”? Was that a dig at the little actress? (I kinda feel the same way, but jeez!) I thought the little kid who played the bully was GREAT, though.

Phil is dismayed when Haley and Alex reveal themselves to have few domestic skills: Alex doesn’t know how to sweep (to be fair, who sweeps? get a dustbuster!) and Haley doesn’t know how to change a lightbulb (to be fair, Phil’s home and taller). So Phil goes over-the-top in making an elaborate show about how to deal with the furnace (I think?) and pilot light, with Haley and Alex rolling their eyes the whole way. According to Phil’s daughters, if anything goes wrong, they’re just going to “Call a guy.” “Or a girl.” But when Phil comes across a problem he doesn’t know how to fix, he quickly sends the girls away so he can secretly “call a guy”—his dad. After a delightful joke exchange with Fred Willard, Phil decides he’s okay with the girls not knowing how to do things when they move out; he’d rather they have reason to call him. Aww. Don’t worry, Phil, they’ll figure out how to live when they absolutely have to.

And finally, Gloria and Jay are fighting about child-rearing again. When Manny wants to go see a four-hour staged reading of Moby Dick, Jay pretends he didn’t remember agreeing to it and—whoops—had already volunteered to take Joe to his parent/baby class, essentially dicking Gloria over. (High-five!) But when Joe falls asleep on his way to class at the mall, Phil gets a better idea: he’s going to go see Skyfall with the little bugger. But-BUT when Joe starts crying in the movie, one of Claire’s friends who happens to be there volunteers to take the kid outside. That’s of course when Gloria and Manny also happen to be at the mall, and Jay’s nailed. In the end, Gloria hands Jay a very eloquent guilt trip: “When it comes to raising kids, you get what you give.”

I mean, Claire and Mitchell came out alright. Yeesh.

Photos: ABC’s Modern Family

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