'Modern Family' recap: 'You owe me a murder'
Would you rather hurt a loved one's feelings, or sit back as they're humiliated in public? To be more specific, would you rather your partner go out in public wearing a bear of bright blue, anatomically-revealing spandex shorts, or listen to the high-pitched wailing that ensues when you suggest that maybe he shouldn't. The theme of tonight's "Modern Family" was just that: When is it necessary to protect your family from embarrassment, and when should you let them fall on their faces?
On a fitness kick, Cameron has taken to wearing the aforementioned workout gear. Mitchell is reluctant to say anything, knowing just how sensitive Cameron is about all things body-related. Meanwhile, Phil is preparing to host the upcoming S.C.A.R.B. banquet, and Claire is worried that his jokes--a bunch of groaners relying on bad real estate puns--will go over like a lead balloon. The question for both spouses is when and how to intervene. What's worse: Public humiliation, or being criticized by the person you love the most in the whole world? It's a conundrum that will be familiar to anyone who's ever had a boyfriend, sibling, or best friend with bad breath, an interrupting habit or a too-fervent love for "Harry Potter."
Mitchell proposes that he and Claire pull a "Strangers on a Train." As a nerd who once took an entire class on the films of Hitchcock, I saw this reference coming from a mile away--or, you know, a few feet. But I appreciated the reference nevertheless. Like the characters in the original, both Claire and Mitchell would do the other's dirty work. Only, in this version, there won't be any murders--just firm yet gentle suggestions to abandon the spandex/ditch the lame jokes. Claire boldly fulfills her duty, sending Cameron into a tizzy; Mitchell, the mastermind of the plan, can't follow through with it. Instead, he tells Phil he's the next Richard Pryor. He owes Claire a "murder."
For Claire and Phil, the evening turns out well. Claire steals Phil's index cards in a last-ditch effort at averting disaster. He wings it, and--to Claire's surprise and delight--is a hit. For Cameron and Mitchell, the ending is not quite so happy. Cameron discovers that Mitchell was behind the bike shorts critique, and after a spat, tells Mitchell to make it up to him by "doing my shoulders." Everything seems resolved, until Mitchell messes up again: Instead of rubbing Cameron's shoulders, he grabs a razor and shaving cream. Oopsies!
So the message from tonight's episode, if we were to glean one, is that there may be such a thing as too much honesty in a relationship. Or, as in Gloria and Jay's case, too little. Now quick, someone tell Gloria before Jay ruins another quinceañera.
Example of Phil's real estate puns: "A two-story house. I’ll tell you one story before you buy it, and another after."
How Claire fakes it with Phil: "I laugh with my mouth, not my eyes."
Proof Gloria's quinceañera was a beautiful event: "There wasn’t a dry eye in the cartel."
Class that I am sure Crunch will offer within 6 months: Troga (treadmill yoga)
Haley's grim world view: "Do you want to be smart, or do you want to be popular?"
Best double-entendre, courtesy of Cameron: "I’m leaning towards the park."
-- Meredith Blake
Photo: Jay (Ed O'Neill) accidentally crashes an engagement party.
Credit: ABC/Karen Neal