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Episode 5 - Unplugged

6 March 2012

Hmm. Tricky. Three very floored plots, all three of which made me laugh.

1) Jay, Gloria and Manny have a noisy dog next door. So Gloria deals with it. Manny and Jay think she might have killed it.

I suppose that idea was just about plausible and Manny and Jay were really fun together being scared. I loved Manny saying "I like how Hemmingway gets to the point....that was a hint Jay" when Jay comes to discuss the missing dog.

And frankly this exchange sums Manny's character up in a nutshell and was pure gold (Manny is sipping yet another espresso):

Jay: "Don't most kids drink soda?"
Manny: "Who knows what they do!"

But the Gloria-Jay dynamic remains one-note this season. She still nags him, he still makes insensitive remarks and then to the camera she sells out her own culture for a cheap laugh. The writers need to look at branching out with different stories for them to be a part of.

2) Cam and Mitchell try to get Lily into a pre-school. Cam sees an opportunity to get her into private school and strike a note for minorities everywhere by using their unique family unit as a selling point.

The story is fine and makes a lot of sense. Mitchelle is a lawyer and his father is wealthy and so he naturally has high standards, aspirations and a hint of snobbery about him. Cam is easily swayed by the emotive aspects of what Lily will get. However once they come up against an inter-racial lesbian couple, one of whom is disabled Cam pretends to be part Native American.

It's a decision which has no common sense behind it. There was no reason to assume the school only had one place available and his lie was clearly offensive and unsustainable. Yet it was hilarious. Cam did a fantastic mock voice and made the dumb dumb joke so very amusing.

3) Claire is fed up with all the gadgets preventing her family from communicating with one another. So she tries to ban them for a week/ Phil misses the point and turns it into a contest where if the kids win they get whatever they want. Hayley outlasts her siblings, tricks her parents into thinking she is using her phone and so wins the contest. They have no intention of buying her the car so they back down and apologise.

The idea behind the story was a logical extension of Claire's well documented dislike of her family's use of gadgets. But Phil's alteration to her plan makes little sense, why would Claire agree to it? Then Hayley deliberately deceives Phil into thinking the contest is over in order to win it. Surely Claire and Phil could have just told her that cheating was no way to win the contest and disqualify her. Instead they wimpily apologised to her for not buying her a new car. It was an awkward end to a poorly thought out story. Though it did allow Phil to comment that his own deal was "in hindsight, utter nonsense" which made me smile.

Conclusion: Modern Family is capable of funny moments. But it's also rigidly sticking to a formula which is turning me off. The show is cramming too many characters into each episode, no plot is having adequate time to develop and logic is suffering as a result. It also becomes tiresome to see the same characters interacting with one another all the time. The show could use some episodes where a couple of characters get their own story out in the world with other characters to bounce off of. If the show continues down this path then I may have to stop writing about it eventually. It's strange to say that as I was very complimentary of season one. But season two has shown an inflexibility which I'm not enjoying.



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