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'Modern Family': Up in the air

May 6, 2010 |  7:14 am
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With the season winding down, it's time for the clan to take the always coveted (and often dreaded) family vacation. 

A family vacation wasn’t exactly what Jay thought he was signing up for, though. It's his birthday, and Gloria decided to surprise him with a romantic trip to Hawaii. An excited Jay, hoping to spend the week lounging by the beach, soaking up the sun, drinking and spending time with his wife, is "thrilled" to find out Gloria has invited the entire family to come along. What a gift for Jay, considering Gloria ultimately used his money to purchase all the tickets. (Say, what does round-trip airfare and accommodations in Hawaii for a family of 11 run these days?)

It wouldn't be the only surprise Gloria has up her sleeve in an episode that's the first of a two-parter and set entirely in the airport – the opening shot of LAX tipped off even the most inexperienced traveler that it was sure to be a mess. While Jay has big plans for being lazy -- who can blame him, it is his vacation and his birthday -- Gloria has other plans. She envisions a week of hiking up a volcano each morning, doing group activities and celebrating his special day by throwing him a show full of family performances. With an itinerary sure to keep him busy, he translates this into Gloria avoiding spending time with him. Awww Jay.

What is intriguing with the whole Jay/Gloria subplot is that every now and then this season viewers have been exposed to Jay’s insecurities about his age. It’s the one thing Jay seems to have the most trouble with. And of course the older you get, the more those insecurities seem to boil – especially on your birthday. His insecurities are only magnified by this “why me” relationship with Gloria. He lets those insecurities cloud the special treat she had planned for him (despite his jokes about it being “his” money). She wants him to have a great birthday -- though the sheer fact of being able to take your entire family on a Hawaiian vacation, during a recession at that, is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving. I mean, seriously, where is this money coming from?

You can’t have an episode without exploring a few stereotypes: 

Fear of flying

Who knew Claire of all people would be afraid of flying. But I guess that's what makes it funnier. I assumed someone like Phil or Gloria would be afraid of flying. Claire has it a bit rough as her brood doesn’t help relieve her anxiety. Phil, thinking her fear is irrational, isn’t too comforting. Hayley, of course, has overslept – and if Claire knew her boyfriend had slept over, she’d surely want that plane to nose-dive right into Dylan’s face. Luke, of course, is his special little self. It doesn’t help that he deadpans to Claire, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we flew through a storm and crash-landed on an island like in ‘Lost’?” (Bonus points: A. I love a crossover reference. B. Kudos to the nod to Julie Bowen’s former show. C. That was classic Luke.) Claire, like anyone scared out of their mind of flying, eases her mind by turning to the sauce – though I watch what I drink in airports because I have a fear of standing up on a moving plane.


Oops, did I remember to bring…?

Cam and Mitchell are late to the airport after a snippy argument. Like most arguments, it was over miscommunication. Mitchell needed help and didn’t speak up to Cam, who was in his own world. Mitchell ends up leaving his wallet at home because of the added stress of traveling, ultimately blaming Cam. This leads to Phil racing Mitchell back home to get it – though they have to break into the house because Mitchell left his keys with Cam, again a nice nod to another gag in the episode as Dylan was busy breaking out of the Dunphy house. I love seeing Phil and Mitchell together. The two of them make an awkward pairing, which made for plenty of laughs. 

No-fly list

Of course someone had to make the no-fly list, and the only hilarious (and sort of obvious) choice was Manny. A guard informs him that his name doesn’t clear and is on the list. Not sure what’s funnier here, the obvious ridiculousness of such a list for placing a child on it, or the fact that Manny was dressed like a businessman – he even got his shoes shined! Jay has to come to the rescue because Gloria’s hot-blooded temper almost gets her in a heap of trouble -- saying you know how to smuggle things in the airport is not the way to go! In a cute twist, she had just one more surprise for Jay: The family is only staying for six days and they will spend the rest of vacation together, the way Jay hoped. 

Here are some of my favorite lines that required a rewind:

Jay: Did it hurt? When you fell from heaven and landed on Earth.
Gloria: I didn't ... oh, because I'm an angel!

Gloria: It cost me a fortune … but it was worth it!
Jay: [just mouthing it] Cost me a fortune.

Manny: I’m just a boy trying to bring style back to childhood!

Cam: People always say I scream Hawaii.
Mitchell: Who says that?
Cam: People …
Mitchell: What people?
Cam: …You don’t know them.

Phil: What a mom. Sometimes I wish you were my mom.
Claire: Oh God, Phil, I’m already feeling a little queasy.

Haley: Look at him getting coffee and not putting chocolate in it! He’s so mature!

Cam: I have an uncle that can only wear bell-bottoms. Hand to God.

Phil: Every Realtor is just a ninja in a blazer. The average burglar breaks in and leaves clues everywhere, but not me. I’m completely clueless.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy)

Photo: Members of the "Modern Family" clan are ready to jet to Hawaii. Credit: ABC

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