Building off of an episode that relied on a clever gimmick (but still a gimmick), this week Modern Family this week offers another stellar episode, and the only gimmick is that it’s a Modern Family episode. Unlike in prior weeks, the family’s stories threaded throughout the episode all refreshingly come together at the end to converge around the pool, in a family-friendly activity of drone destruction.
If there’s a theme here (and it’s admittedly a bit of a stretch), it would be about accepting who you are. Lily is not the kid who’s going to kill it at the talent show. Phil knows he’s one of the idiots, but he’s an idiot who’s going to attack the drone. Joe is a toddler who wants his binky, but it’s time for him to move on. Haley is in love with Andy, even while she’s on a date with Riley. And Jay is a bonafide grouch, even if everyone can see it but him.
Trying to be something you’re not just doesn’t work. I mean, look at all the trouble Joe is having. Haley isn’t having fun on her date, and tone-deaf Lily was not going to be able to pull off her song. Most hilariously, Jay’s attempt to be chipper just frightens everyone (my biggest laugh of many this episode was from Mitchell: “Oh no, did something happen to Mom?”).
The varying dynamics of the different storylines also greatly benefited the pace of the episode. Phil, Luke, and Manny and their manic efforts to go after the drone are in stark contrast to Haley’s sweet sickbed confession. Cam and Mitchell have been off on their own for such a while now I was actually relieved when they showed up at the pool (and had to laugh when Claire waved them away). Claire’s control of the closet commercial underlines how reliant the whole family business is on her, but also offers a nice one-on-one between her and Jay. Like last week, “Closet? You’ll Love It”” offers this valuable shuffling of Modern Family characters we’ve been missing: Manny joining the diabolical duo of Phil and Luke, dyads between Gloria and Haley, and Claire and Jay.
And so many of the lines absolutely landed, as the writing was exemplary (by Modern Family vet Elaine Ko). The cute chemistry between Andy and Haley (“Job at the hut” = “Jabba the hut,” and leave it to Sarah Hyland to completely sell a line like, “So this Beth, who I’ve never met, is she one of those real-life move-around girls?”); Gloria’s takedown of Phil (“As you can guess I’m a droner myself.” “Yes, you’re droning right now!”); even a toss-away as Manny makes off with his neighbor’s bike (“I promise to bring it back, all right?” “That’s what you said about my mom’s humidifier!”). I was prepared to give this episode the highest grade possible just based on that vintage commercial: Custom closet designs included the Monte Carlo, along with state-of-the-art technology on a dot-matrix printer, topped off by Jay in a Miami Vice suit. And physical comedy has to be written as well: That fall into the pool was epic, seconded only by the three-bike crash.
It all adds up to an episode that was vastly entertaining from start to finish, even offering some valuable plot progression for the weeks ahead (Andy’s mournful look at the door after Haley left spoke volumes).
Sure, you could say that in its sixth season, it’s the familiarity of Modern Family that causes its tired problems. But this sixth season can also offer a cast at the top of its game, that absolutely knows how to play off of each other (like Haley’s little aside about Gloria’s story of a cousin who ended up on prison: “I feel like a lot of your family stories wind up that way”), as well as creators like Ko who know how to play to those strengths.
In the end, the drone is defeated, not through the entertaining teamwork of the menfolk, but an armed Gloria, which makes it even better. Actually, all the way through to its satisfying ending (and final closet slogans), this episode offers everything we watch Modern Family for. If only just to see three generations of Dunphy-Pritchetts attack the drone outside by the pool, and we’re as happy as Claire is watching them.
- Love Gloria’s nod to Fantasy Island with “The plane The plane!”
- Also appreciated the continuity of Phil’s long-standing appreciation for Gloria by insisting on knocking the drone of out of the sky, rather than have her cover up.
- I have seen a lot of kids’ concerts. And I really don’t see what would have been so bad about Lily’s “Kung Fu Fighting” karate routine.
- That confetti was definitely not mentioned at dress rehearsal.
- “Here comes Andrew: Act like you don’t care about this whole Greensleevers thing.” “Oh, I hope I can pull this off!” Mitchell is KILLING me.
- You have to remind Luke about things like gravity.
- Cam: not above throwing shade at children.
- As you can see by the above photo, by the end of the episode, Phil is wearing a belt on the swimsuit.
- “Get off the air above my lawn!”
- Closets, closets, closets, closets!
- Where was Alex?
- Modern Family is off the next few weeks: See you back here on March 25 for “Spring Break”! Woot!