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I’ll tell you this, right off the bat: I did not expect to see so many episodes with Sherry after she first popped up on Modern Family. She was Manny’s incredibly obnoxious girlfriend for awhile, but she was hardly in any episodes when they first started dating. The show established the relationship and then it just kind of vanished. There was mention of Sherry every now and then, but there was never any sense of how long they’d been together or what their relationship was like. She was an afterthought, a pure caricature that gave Manny the bare minimum of a story for weeks on end.

When, during the season premiere, Sherry was brought back into the fold, my first thought was...“her?”. She was an unsubstantial, forgotten part of the past, and sure enough the premiere only used her to reaffirm that Manny is indeed the worst person in this family. Now she’s back again in “Tree’s A Crowd,” as Manny has slipped into a broken-hearted slump, and spends his days moping around the house, which is apparently different than how he usually spends his days.

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Gloria, whose meddling knows no end, decides that Manny needs his girlfriend back, so she sends Luke to one of her improv shows to talk Manny up and see if he can get them back together. In a surprise twist, Luke is feeling like dating someone his age, and he ends up being impressed by the improv show, and when he sticks around and chats with Sherry for a long time, they end up kissing.

The story here is really played out and obvious—Luke feels bad, Gloria doesn’t hold herself accountable for anything, and Manny tries to fight Luke—but it’d be interesting if the show could use Sherry in a more meaningful way that would not only allow her to have feelings and motivations, but also push Modern Family to give Manny and Luke some sort of arc in this final season.

Elsewhere in this episode, things are going completely off the rails. Dylan’s mother Farrah is visiting, and she’s bringing her usual hippie vibe to the household, walking around topless and banging out drum prayers to stop flooding halfway around the world. When Dede’s husband Jerry wants to come for a visit, Claire sees this as the perfect opportunity to try and pawn the two lonely, out-there people off on each other. It works, as Jerry and Farrah bond, but their relationship hits a speed bump when he sees the tree that’s fused with the ashes of his dead wife in Claire’s backyard. As with any time the show brings on Jerry or Farrah, the jokes here are broad and unfunny. They hit every obvious beat on the hippie joke checklist, and it’s just painful to sit through.

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Perhaps not as painful as Cam and Mitchell’s story, which involves them not-so-subtly implying to their new lesbian friends that they want to be their sperm donor. Then they argue about who gets to be the donor, decide neither of them actually wants to do it because it’d be too hard to have a child out their in the world that they weren’t involved with, and then they get upset about their friends finding another donor before revealing their own decision.

The thing with this storyline is that it unfolds like every other Cam and Mitchell storyline. There are countless episodes where the two desperately want something, get exactly what they want, bail on that, and then throw a fit later on. The show doesn’t even bother really exploring or merely suggesting why Cam and Mitchell would want to donate, other than a tossed-off “joke” about it being the dream of every gay male couple to have lesbians ask them to do it, and doesn’t take the time to find out why they so quickly change their mind. It’s all in service of some truly bad jokes about lesbians, and only underlines just how whiny and entitled these two can be.

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Stray observations

  • After seeing her improv performance, Luke refers to Sherry as a “hot girl version of my dad,” and I really don’t know what to do with that.
  • Jerry wishes he could vote for Marianne Williamson.
  • Jay standing up for Manny was a nice capper to the story.
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Kyle Fowle is a freelance writer based out of Canada. He writes about TV and wrestling for The A.V. Club, Real Sport, EW, and Paste Magazine.

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