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'Modern Family' recap: 'You owe me a murder'

October 13, 2010 |  9:30 pm


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



Complete coverage of 'Modern Family' on Show Tracker

'Modern Family' recap: I feel the Earth move under my feet

'Modern Family' recap: Gays don't high-five

'Modern Family': The time traveler's wife (and kids)

'Modern Family': A picture-perfect finale

Photo:  Jay (Ed O'Neill) accidentally crashes an engagement party.  

Credit: ABC/Karen Neal