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Episode 7 - Chirp

6 March 2012

There was a balance problem of a different kind with this episode of Modern Family. I kept thinking there was a line too many in some places or a line too few elsewhere.

Jay accidentally refers to Manny as his "kid" which was another nice moment in their developing relationship. But then the writers squeezed in another joke instead of letting the moment be as awkward and affectionate as it could have been. Cameron finally saw that he had allowed Lily to be exploited and then picked up the wrong child, losing all his righteous indignation, in the old Asian-people- all-look-the-same gag. Finally Hayley misunderstood Claire's hints that she should dump Dylan for complaints about Phil. Yet Claire never readdressed the issue and confronted Hayley about her boyfriend.

In each case it felt like some real characterisation or storytelling had been sacrificed for the sake of a really old joke. The misunderstanding between Hayley and Claire was well written but the longer it went on the less amusing it became. The fact that the Manny and Jay joke about what "first kiss" meant was another old fashioned miscommunication didn't help much either. The build-up of Phil feeling emasculated was laid on as thick as you can imagine. Modern Family looks like a contemporary show but those writing are competent veterans who more often than not recycle rather than create.

That might sound harsh and much of the episode was solid stuff. Manny and Jay were excellent in their roles as ever (it was nice to see Jay's workplace too). The Dunphy plot did build well and made use of four characters in a fairly organic way.



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